Johnathan Kozol on Common Pore "Travesty"

Reposted from Mike Deshotel's blog - http://bit.ly/1OByt17

Louisiana Educator


Posted: 26 Mar 2015 10:55 AM PDT
Johnathan Kozol has been recognized for years as one of the most influential educators of North America. Now the most highly honored educator in the world, the winner of the million dollar Global Teacher prize, Nancie Atwell, joins Kozol in exposing the Basic flaws in the Common Core standards.

In this Education Week article Nancie Atwell points out that the Common Core and the hyper-accountability, hyper-testing climate in public education today may be contributing to the exodus of top talent from the teaching profession. It is ironic that proponents of these so called education reforms had claimed that these efforts along with VAM based teacher evaluations and merit pay would elevate the teaching profession and attract the best talent to the teaching profession. Atwell is recommending that the most talented young people shy away from public school teaching at this time because of the repressive "straight jacket" restraints now being placed on teachers by Common Core and the related testing.

Here is the result of a poll of Education Week readers concerning recommending teaching as a profession to young people today. Many of the readers of Education Week are knowledgeable about education issues. This is definitely not an endorsement of the direction of education reform in our country.
Would you recommend teaching as a profession
to young people today?

In another article featuring Johnathan Kozol, Common Core is blasted as stealth plan to privatize and monetize public education. Kozol makes this stunning assertion:

"Our children, our families, our neighborhoods, our public schools, and our democracy itself have become pawns in a vast and inter-connected scheme to undermine public institutions for private profit. The vehicle for this travesty in the arena of education is the Common Core State (sic) (Stealth) Standards and their accompanying high-stakes standardized testing—PARCC or SBAC. This incessant testing, orchestrated to be taken on computers, intensifies the myth that 21st century teaching depends on the innovation of software programs that “personalize” education for each child. Nothing could be further from the truth. The entrenched belief that accounting/accountability, i.e. data collection, is the answer to lagging scores on standardized tests as compared to other nations is a travesty."

Kozol also points out that a fatal flaw in the Common Core was the selection of the writers of the Core from a select group of testing and academic elitists who have no understanding of early childhood education or the realities of K-12 education.


"Consider the stealthy way the drafters of the Common Core State (sic) Standards were selected. Why were primarily representatives from the college testing industry included (SAT and ACT), when k-12 classroom teachers, specialists in early childhood education, teachers of special needs students, and authorities on students learning English as a second language were excluded? These standards and accompanying curricula have been developed with blinders on. They reflect a narrow, technocratic vision of teaching and learning, which is at odds with decades of authentic research into children’s cognitive development, first and second language development, and literacy development. They ignore all aspects of education that promote healthy psychosocial development, and even physical health. They ignore or downplay the significance of the humanities—history, literature, drama, music, art, dance, philosophy—all of the attributes that contribute to a humane society."

Here in Louisiana, we have attempted through legislation to protect the privacy of our student information. Kosol however explains that as long as our K-12 curriculum is based in some way to the Common Core standards, the testing companies and the education privatization industry dominated by the likes of Pearson and the Rupert Murdock conglomerate will be monitoring every keystroke by our students who are forced to used their pre-packaged programs to prepared our students for the obsessive testing tied to the Core.

"Why has a monolithic curriculum in English Language Arts and Math been created to align with these ill-begotten standards, to then be aligned with the incessant testing that accompanies them? Why have state departments of education been essentially bribed by Race to the Top money and then waivers to the failed NCLB law to swallow these poorly constructed standards, curricula, and tests? Who will benefit from the massive amounts of personal student data being collected not only from the testing process, but from every keystroke of every student on every Chrome book stocked with every poor quality but snazzy program, adjusted by algorithm to the individual student’s responses?
These are questions that are serious in the extreme. They must be confronted by all segments of our society. Instead, school administrators and teachers are asked to sign security agreements that hearken back to the McCarthy era under the guise of test security and “fairness.” Teachers, under pain of losing their jobs and even their teaching licenses, are being intimidated into not expressing their concerns about the inappropriateness of the Common Core to the parents of the children in their classrooms. This is unacceptable and must be challenged."
I could not have said it better than Kozol and Atwell.

Who Is Keeping PEARSON Testing In Business?

Reprinted from NYC Public School Parents -

Monday, March 16, 2015

Surveillance, free speech, student privacy and the Pineapple: Pearson gives parents more reasons to opt out

On Saturday night the news exploded through the Twittersphere via Bob Braun’s blog that Pearson was monitoring student social media.  Pearson had sent a warning to the NJ State Education Department, who in turn had contacted the Superintendent of Warren, saying that a student enrolled in the district had posted a picture of one of the PARCC questions on Twitter during the exam.  

That turned out to be incorrect, according to the Superintendent.  Apparently, the student had just commented on the question after taking the test, and deleted his tweet after being contacted by the district.  The most disturbing aspect of the incident was not merely Pearson’s error in reporting this to the State Education Department,  (how did they get this wrong?) but also their suggestion that the student should be disciplined for this behavior – when it’s not at all clear  that he did anything wrong.  But parents and others were understandably alarmed that Pearson is monitoring student social media at all.

I don’t mean to minimize the creepiness of this, but I am not surprised.  Clearly, Pearson has good reason  to defend  against its test items being disclosed in advance of students elsewhere taking the PARCC exams, and will use whatever tools at its disposal to do so.  But it is somewhat implausible that anyone could imagine that they will be able to achieve this. Given the widespread use of social media and the speed and ease of communication, it is near crazy to imagine that questions given to over five million students in 11 states over the period of several weeks will remain secret for any length of time – or even just during the testing window. According to the PARCC website, since February 16, over two million students have now taken these exams  in Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Colorado, Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey and New Mexico, with Louisiana, Massachusetts and Rhode Island to start testing soon.

The PARCC/Pearson consortium has also said they refuse to release all of the questions on these exams, a position that is difficult to justify for any assessments in which the stakes for students, teachers and schools are so high.   But then those in power always want to maintain maximum secrecy for themselves, and protect what they see is their own privacy rights, whether personal or commercial – while having little or no respect for the privacy of others.  Witness how technology CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg maximize their own privacy by asking all their employees and  household contractors to sign non-disclosure agreements, while making billions from exploiting the personal information of their customers.  

See how Hillary Clinton has kept her State Department emails on a private server, and NYS officials have apparently been in in the habit of destroying their official emails after three months.  The NSA has refused to disclose how they have been sweeping up the public’s private emails and conversations for years. What should be public is kept private, and vice versa, because information is power – and the less information corporations and governmental officials provide about their own behavior, and the more they gather up about the actions of ordinary people, the more power they can maintain over the rest of us. 

For many years, Pearson has had good reason to try to protect the contents of its exams that transcend security.  The corporation has a terrible record of producing  terribly flawed and inadequate exams– and by refusing to release these exams they have not only saved money by being able to recycle faulty questions over again, but they have also been able to shield the shoddy quality of their product. BY monitoring social media and attempting to suppress any discussion or debate of these questions – which may have occurred in this instance – they are also likely protecting not just the actual content of their exams, but their reputation as well.

In 2012, we first found out about the ridiculously flawed Pineapple items from a comment on our blog on the same afternoon the ELA exams were given in NY State.  A commenter wrote: “Apparently the New York State 8th Graders thought the story about "The Hare and the Pineapple" was so ridiculous that they have started a Facebook page about it.  (I later found out the FB page was started in 2010.) 8th Graders from across NY State are weighing in with comments.”  Someone else posted the link to a website from 2007 (now defunct) that had a facsimile of the passage and the questions, while questioning the rationality of anyone who would put these questions on an important exam. 

I was lucky enough to have an 8th grader living in my home who could confirm that a very confusing passage about a race between a Pineapple and a Hare was on his exam. You can see the actual text and the questions here. Then in a manner of minutes, I discovered not only found a facsimile of the passage and the questions, but that the same items  had been included in Pearson exams in numerous other states over seven years, causing huge confusion each time.   

Literally, hundreds of thousands of students had been subjected to this reading passage and questions, and many had become understandably upset.  Yet that hadn’t stopped Pearson from re-using the questions over and over.  It was only because reporters read my blog and the Daily News carried the story the next day that the story became viral and broke into the national media – and the NYS Education Commissioner was finally forced to pull the Pineapple questions out of the exam once and for all.  

At that point, Pearson was prevented from reusing these defective passages and subjecting thousands more students to having their achievement scores and transcripts affected by the results.  
Even then, however, Pearson refused to accept what was obvious and claimed in an even more absurd memo addressed to the NY State Education Department and “leaked” to Time magazine via its (possibly lone)  defender Andrew Rotherham, explaining in technobabble jargon how the Pineapple passage and questions were  just fine, including that “the owl declares that “Pineapples don’t have sleeves,” …is a factually accurate statement. This statement is also presented as the moral of the story, allowing a careful reader to infer that the owl is the wisest animal.” 

The memo really has to be read to be believed – full of gobbledegook that sounds as though it comes from a Monty Python skit or an Ionesco play.   The author of the memo, Jon S. Twing, (who is still amazingly Executive Vice President & Chief Measurement Officer at Pearson) confirmed that these items had been used since 2004 in six other states and three large districts, and then made the most indefensible claim of all, given the ubiquity online of complaints from students, parents and teachers: “Until the events of this past week, we did not have any prior knowledge that the passage entitled “The Hare and the Pineapple” had any controversy associated with it from any prior use.”

In reality, Pearson has been continuously plagued with scandal through faulty tests, scoring errors and the like for over a decade.  If there were any accountability for corporations – instead of for the students and teachers who are judged on the results – the company would have lost all its contracts in recent years rather than awarded the biggest one ever – the PARCC contract, worth billions. 
Which is a rather long-winded way to explain that Pearson has good reasons to monitor social media, to suppress not just the specific content of PARCC exams but also any discussion of their substandard quality. 

What has also been ignored in the commentary about Pearson’s monitoring of students so far are the extremely porous privacy policies of PARCC/Pearson, including how they claim their right to collect, share and use student data for many purposes:
  • to analyze test results to assist member states and their local education agencies for purposes of accountability, including promotion and graduation decisions for individual students; teacher and school leader evaluations; school accountability determinations; determinations of principal and teacher professional development and support needs; and teaching, learning, and program improvement; and 
  •  to carry out studies designed to improve instruction on behalf of participating states and their local education agencies, pursuant to separate agreements with the member states and/or their local education agencies. 
In essence, PARCC and its major subcontractor, Pearson, can hand off the personally identifiable information it has gathered directly from students or  that schools have provided them to an unlimited number of third parties, or use it themselves for a wide variety of purposes, as long as the state or district allows.  This includes decisions about whether a student should be held back, how a teacher should be evaluated, or a school should be rated.  Huge amounts of personal student data can also be handed off to researchers or think tanks or anyone doing a “study,” with no security or privacy restrictions, and without parental notification or consent required – as long it is for the vaguely defined purpose of “improving instruction.”  

The other major testing consortium, Smarter Balanced, has no publicly available privacy policy at all – though parents in several states have asked for it without success. 

What information do these companies have about your child through PARCC or its other exams?  This may differ from state to state, but concerned parents and privacy advocates in Colorado asked their state this specific question, as their students started taking the PARCC last week and will again later in the year.

According to the briefing given by the Colorado State Education department last week,  Pearson/PARCC has been supplied with a wealth of personal data, including students’ race/ethnicity, economic status, 504 plan (health conditions that can impact student performance, like allergies or epilepsy), whether they have migrant or immigrant status, disabilities, homelessness, language proficiency, how long they have lived in the state or attended school in the district,  and whether they have ever been expelled.  All of this is quite disturbing and is similar to what we discovered about inBloom. 

 In addition, Pearson/PARCC has access to if a student is using testing modifications, along with their names, unique identifier numbers, etc. Beyond sensitive student information, Pearson also collects everything a student types into the keyboard during the test including words or sentences that were typed and then deleted. Pearson knows whether or not the student views a test item, how long it takes him/her to answer a specific question, and it tracks the student's clicks as he/she navigates the test. This seemingly harmless data, when paired with sensitive information about an individual student, creates a very complex learning and behavioral profile of the child.  

So this is yet another reason to opt your child out of these standardized exams – which every parent should seriously consider. Both Utah and California specifically give parents to opt out of standardized tests if they so choose. So does the NYC Department of Education, writing:“If, after 
consulting with the principal, the parents still want to opt their child out of the exams, the principal should respect the parents' decision and let them know that the school will work to the best of their ability to provide the child.”
Also contrary to what you may have read or heard, schools cannot have their funding cut, even if large numbers of students opt out – there is simply no provision in state or federal law for this to happen.  The “worst” that can happen is the federal government might restrict a school’s flexibility with use of Title One funds, including requiring more  tutoring, which many parents might actually prefer.  (For more on this, see FairTest).

As a matter of fact, more than 60,000 students opted out of the NY state exams last year, and nothing happened to these schools. In a statewide survey of NY districts, more than 35 percent of superintendents estimated test refusals last year at 5 percent of students or more, and 23 percent reported student refusals at 10 percent or more.  Fully eight percent of superintendents estimated that more than 20 percent of their students in grades 3-8 refused to participate in at least one of the state Common Core exams. Not a single NY school or district has faced ANY consequences as a result
It would be great to see those numbers grow yet larger again this year.

Opt out and deny them your child’s personal and test score data. Opt out and save your child from the stress of what are unpiloted, and likely flawed exams. Opt out and deny the authorities the ability to use your children’s data in unfair and punitive way, to hurt them, their teachers or their schools.  Opt out to fight for an end to the mechanistic depersonalized insanity that is devouring public education.  Opt out to fight back against the privateers’ attempt to prove that public schools are failing, in order to benefit the interests of the hedge funders, the ed tech companies and the testing companies. Opt out!

PEARSON's Common Core Foray Gets REAL!

It seems that PEARSON, makers of the PARCC test scheduled to begin this week in Louisiana, has been spying on students's Facebook pages and other social media sites.

This blog is re-posted from Peter Greene's Carmudgeon. 

Pearson Proves PARCC Stinks

When I was in tenth grade, I took a course called Biological Sciences Curriculum Studies (BSCS). It was a course known for its rigor and for its exceedingly tough tests.

The security on these tests? Absolutely zero. We took them as take-home tests. We had test-taking parties. We called up older siblings who were biology majors. The teacher knew we did these things. The teacher did not care, and it did not matter, because the tests required reasoning and application of the basic understanding of the scientific concepts. It wasn't enough, for instance, to know the parts of a single-celled organism-- you had to work out how those parts were analogous to the various parts of a city where the residents made pottery. You had to break down the implications of experimental design. And as an extra touch, after taking the test for a week outside of class, you had to take a different version of the same test (basically the same questions in a different order) in class.

Did people fail these zero-security take home tests? Oh, yes. They did.

I often think of those tests these days, because they were everything that modern standardized test manufacturers claim their tests are.

Test manufacturers and their proxies tell us repeatedly that their tests require critical thinking, rigorous mental application, answering questions with more than just rote knowledge.

They are lying.

They prove they are lying with their relentless emphasis on test security. Teachers may not look at the test, cannot so much as read questions enough to understand the essence of them. Students, teacher, and parents are not allowed to know anything specific about student responses after the fact (making the tests even less useful than the could possibly be).

And now, of course, we've learned that Pearson apparently has a super-secret cyber-security squad that just cruises the interwebs, looking for any miscreant teens who are violating the security of the test and calling the state and local authorities to have that student punished(and, perhaps, mounting denial of service attacks on any bloggers who dare to blog about it).

This shows a number of things, not the least of which is what everyone should already have know-- Pearson puts its own business interests ahead of anything and everything.

But it also tells us something about the test.

You know what kind of test need this sort of extreme security? A crappy one.

Questions that test "critical thinking" do not test it by saying, "Okay, you can only have a couple of minutes to read and think about this because if you had time to think about it, that wouldn't be critical thinking." A good, solid critical thinking question could take weeks to answer.

Test manufacturers and their cheerleaders like to say that these tests are impervious to test prep-- but if that were true, no security would be necessary. If the tests were impervious to any kind of advance preparation aimed directly at those tests, test manufacturers would be able to throw the tests out there in plain sight, like my tenth grade biology teacher did.

A good assessment has no shortcuts and needs no security. Look at performance-based measures-- no athlete shows up at an event and discovers at that moment, "Surprise! Today you're jumping over that bar!"

Authentic assessment is no surprise at all. It is exactly what you expect because it is exactly what yo prepared for, exactly what you've been doing all along-- just, this time, for a grade.

Big Stupid Test manufacturers insist that their test must be a surprise, that nobody can know anything about it, is a giant, screaming red alarm signal that these tests are crap. In what other industry can you sell a customer a product and refuse to allow them to look at it! It's like selling the emperor his new clothes and telling him they have to stay in the factory closet. Who falls for this kind of bad sales pitch? "Let me sell you this awesome new car, but you can never drive it and it will stay parked in our factory garage. We will drive you around in it, but you must be blindfolded. Trust us. It's a great car." Who falls for that??!!

The fact that they will go to such extreme and indefensible lengths to preserve the security of their product is just further proof that their product cannot survive even the simplest scrutiny.

The fact that product security trumps use of the product just raises this all to a super-kafka-esque level. It is more important that test security be maintained than it is that teachers and parents get any detailed and useful information from it. Test fans like to compare these tests to, say, tests at a doctor's office. That's a bogus comparison, but even if it weren't, test manufacturers have created a doctors office in which the doctor won't tell you what test you're getting, and when the test results come back STILL won't tell you what kind of test they gave you and will only tell you whether you're sick or well-- but nothing else because the details of your test results are proprietary and must remain a secret.

Test manufacturers like Pearson are right about one thing-- we don't need the tests to know how badly they suck, because this crazy-pants emphasis on product security tells us all we need to know. These are tests that can't survive the light of day, that are so frail and fragile and ineffectual that these tests can never be tested, seen, examined, or even, apparently, discussed.

Test manufacturers are telling us, via their security measures, just how badly these tests suck. People just have to start listening.

Will The Changing Education Landscape Contribute To Innovation For Teaching as a Profession

As a whole, the charter school movement has moved far away from the original idea of teacher-led laboratory schools that would encourage good teachers to stick with the profession. 

But like my teacher always told me, there is a lesson to be learned even in failure. The question is, will public schools be rendered even more irrelevant by allowing themselves to be "left behind" by ignoring a good business principle like "employee empowerment and input"? 


Schools like Avalon School in St. Paul, Minnesota, and IDEAL School in Milwaukee, WI, empower teachers by radically rethinking school governance and putting teachers in charge of administrative functions. 

Other charter schools like City Neighbors Charter School in Baltimore, Maryland, give teachers representation on the governing board. High Tech High network in San Diego includes teachers in staff hiring committees and builds time for teacher-administrator collaboration into the start of each school day.

The cost of a management-focused model for charter schools appears to be increased teacher turnover, which can in turn harm student learning (Ronfeldt, Lankford, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2011). As of 2012-2013, annual teacher turnover in charter schools was 17% higher than in district schools: 18.4% vs. 15.7% (Goldring, Taie, & Riddles, 2014). 

A 2012 analysis suggested that a key factor in the higher turnover rates seen in charter schools may be teacher frustrations.  Among teachers who left the teaching profession, 19% of teachers from charter schools cited dissatisfaction with the school as their main reason for leaving, compared to just 7% of teachers from district schools.

 Among teachers who moved to another school at the end of the year, 13% of teachers who had been in charter schools cited a better salary or benefits package as their main reason for moving, compared to 6% of teachers from district schools (Stuit & Smith, 2012).

Some charter school networks, such as Rocketship Education, have argued that high teacher turnover is not an issue as long as their schools post strong student test scores and rely on recruitment partners such as Teach for America to bring in a steady stream of new teachers (Whitmire, 2014). But there are reasons to worry about high teacher turnover even in networks where student test scores are high and replacement teachers are plentiful.

 The easiest way to make high teacher turnover work without sacrificing student test scores is to have very prescriptive guidelines to bring first-year teachers up to speed. However, if teachers are following recipes, will they be able to teach higher-order skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, and problem solving, which are not always captured in standardized tests? 

Furthermore, constant churn weakens an organization’s culture. If teachers feel like they are highly replaceable cogs in a machine, a school network might start to lack the internal support it needs to function well.

The KIPP charter school network, where about one in three teachers left the classroom in 2012–2013, has begun offering on-site childcare for employees at some of its schools (Monahan, 2014). 

Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy in Washington, D.C., which suffered roughly 50% teacher turnover in 2008–2009, has created a number of new channels for teacher input in hopes of reducing teacher turnover to 20% (Kahlenberg & Potter, 2014).

Schools like Avalon School in St. Paul, Minnesota, and IDEAL School in Milwaukee, WI, empower teachers by radically rethinking school governance and putting teachers in charge of administrative functions.

Other charter schools like City Neighbors Charter School in Baltimore, Maryland, give teachers representation on the governing board.

 High Tech High network in San Diego includes teachers in staff hiring committees and builds time for teacher-administrator collaboration into the start of each school day.

The privatization movement's lack of respect for teaching credentials and experience and its push for teacher accountability systems actually reduces effectiveness while it punishes teachers for low student test scores.  Traditional public school systems have done their part in reducing the availability of effective teachers with their top-heavy administration and heavy-handed management style.  

If any schools are expected to survive and deliver to the public their expectation for an educated society, an essential element must be the teacher.  In addition to recognizing the already changed requirements for teaching methodology in the 21st Century "classroom," policymakers and educators have to re-think teaching and respect the importance of that profession. 

Taken from: http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=17890

Propelling, Not Just Preserving, Public Education

It is just as easy to say -

Schools that serve economically disadvantaged students must be equitably and justly funded to provide equitable and excellent educational opportunities.

As it is to say -

Poverty is the cause of failing schools.

But neither underfunding (or inequitable funding) nor poverty are likely to change, and even if they were, we would still be left with the undeniable problem of so many inadequate teachers, not for want of motivation or talent, but because of an antiquated system that hasn't even begun to understand how to marry the essential quality of human interaction between student and teacher with all the capabilities of modern technology in a world that must necessarily spend as much time contemplating the future as studying the past.

We need to reinvent the Little Red Schoolhouse.  We are stuck on "common" standards, standardized testing and defined expectations.  If you walk into the quicksand, you can't just expect that walking harder or faster will get you out.

Standardized testing does not address the effects of poverty.  It only clearly identifies it.

Standardization doesn't eliminate racism, it exacerbates it in refusing to celebrate and understand our differences.  It diverts our attention from the real cause and the real solution.

Equitable funding alone doesn't ensure educational opportunitiees.  Our system of public education has to break out of its mold.

It's pretty pathetic that all that the reformers (and all their $$$$) could come up with in the way of innovation is the empty choice of autonomous charters, but it awakened us to the fact that people do want solutions and those solutions are only brought about by change.  That change can take place in the security of brick and mortar, but the building has to "look different" on the outside and the inside.

We need to create a "disruption" of our own if we want public education to survive the determined efforts of corporate reformers to transform all that is beneficial into a sterile training ground for a workforce to serve their greed for profits and power.

Surely we can come up with something better than standardized testing to accomplish such a simple task as eliminating racism and overcoming the effects of poverty!

In the meantime, the Urban League, DFER, BAEO and particularly in my neck of the woods, our legislative black caucus, are shooting themselves in the foot by falling for the myth of choice, faux equity and standardization. Their community schools in New Orleans have been shuttered, their black teachers run out of town after Katrina and replaced with TFA, and their children, once again, bussed cross town int he dark of night in the name of Choice, Equity and Excellence.

And in the midst of the assault on the teaching profession (white teachers), here am I and so many other (white) teachers fighting for their schools with absolutely no other agenda than to bring the same opportunities for every other kid that mine had.

Standardized testing is a weapon - not a tool!












U.S. Supreme Court Asked to Hear N.O. Schools Katrina Case


The New Orleans Agenda
Your Alternative Newsletter
News, Arts, Culture & Entertainment
Thursday, March  12,  2015                     For Immediate Release
Supreme Court of the United States asked to hear case of 7500 New Orleans school workers fired after Hurricane Katrina

 NOPSEJUSTICE CLASS ACTION LEGAL COMMITTEE

CONTACT:
Atty. Willie M. Zanders, Sr.
Email: wzanderssr@yahoo.com
Phone Number: (504) 247-9761

     In a March 6, 2015 application ("Petition for a Writ of Certiorari") sent to the Supreme Court of the United States, attorneys for 7,500 public school employees fired by local and state education officials after Hurricane Katrina asked the Court to review the October 31, 2014 dismissal of their wrongful termination case by the Supreme Court of Louisiana. Chief Justice Bernette Johnson and Justice Jefferson Hughes of Louisiana's highest court agreed with the district court and unanimous 5- judge appellate court which had ruled in favor of the employees: 1)  the Orleans Parish School Board should have placed all tenured employees on a Recall List as mandated by state law and Board Policy; and 2) state education officials should have given state-certified classroom teachers priority consideration for employment at the102 local schools seized by a controversial school takeoverlaw passed after Katrina called "Act 35".  
     The nine Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court are asked to consider two Federal Questions: 
  1. 1.     Whether tenured public school employees' statutory right to recall and priority consideration for reemployment are constitutionally protected property interests which may not be denied to petitioners without due process of law?

  1. 2.     Whether the 2014 dismissal of petitioners' 2005 lawsuit is an extreme application of state-law preclusion (res judicata) and inconsistent with Fourteenth Amendment due process rights?
     The Supreme Court of Louisiana, in an opinion written by Justice Jeffrey Victory (who has since left the Court), dismissed the employees' 2005 lawsuit based on a 2007 settlement involving a collective bargaining dispute which did not include state and federal due process and property rights of ALL EMPLOYEES (union and non-union) as demanded in this class action lawsuit. According to Justice Victory:  "The record does not reveal the exact overlap between the two [union and non-union members in the case below] although the defendants represent that there is a total overlap....If there are any remaining plaintiffs who are non UTNO members, defendants contend that their interests are so closely aligned with the UTNO plaintiffs in the dismissed lawsuits that they were adequately represented by those plaintiffs." (App. 37a) 
NOTE:  The Attorneys for the employees argued that all parties (union and non-union are entitled to a full day in court on state-law claims. Moreover, "... a substantial number of petitioners were not members of any collective bargaining unit, were neither noticed of nor participated in the collective bargaining arbitration, litigation or settlement."  
     Citing recent Supreme Court of Louisiana cases, including Ortego v. State Dept. of Transp. and Development [1], Chief Justice Johnson wrote a compelling Dissent, respectfully disagreeing with the majority of the Supreme Court of Louisiana:
The defendants' res judicata claim was based on a September 18, 2007 settlement agreement between the OPSB and the United Teachers of New Orleans ("UTNO"), which specifically dismissed several lawsuits and arbitration proceedings filed by UTNO asserting violations of their collective bargaining agreements. The majority erroneously finds that the dismissal of these completely separate actions provides a basis for res judicata....It is well established that the doctrine of res judicata is stricti juris, and any doubt concerning the application of the principle must be resolved against its application...
While a valid compromise may form the basis of a plea of res judicata, "a party claiming res Judicata based on a compromise agreement must have been a party to the compromise, and the authority of the thing adjudged extends only to the matters those parties intended to settle...
There is no question that the Oliver class action was not part of the 2007 settlement agreement and that there was no intent to dismiss the class action claims set forth in this class action suit. The 2007 settlement agreement resolved three specific lawsuits and three specific arbitration proceedings between UTNO and the OPSB related to the OPSB's violation of the collective bargaining agreements that were in effect at the time of Hurricane Katrina. [emphasis added by Chief Justice Johnson]

 


[1] Ortega v. State Dep't of Transp. and Dev., 96-1322 (La. 2/25/97), 689 So. 2d 1358,



     The employees' 31-page U. S. Supreme Court application also summarized favorable findings by the District Court Judge, Ethel Simms Julien who presided over the month-long trial held in 2011, and Judge Roland Belsome who wrote the opinion for the Louisiana Court of Appeal:  
On January 15, 2014, a unanimous five-judge panel of Louisiana's Court of Appeal, Fourth Circuit agreed with the trial court, holding the OPSB liable for failing to place tenured public school employees on a 2-year Recall List as mandated by Board Policy and state law, and found the State of Louisiana liable for failing to give priority consideration for employment to tenured, certified classroom teachers whose schools were taken over by the state, as mandated by state law. Additionally, sua sponte, the Fourth Circuit revisited a previously settled issue related to res judicata, and whether class members' claims were precluded because the United Teachers of New Orleans union settled grievances that arose out of the mass termination of the 7,500 class members. The 5-0 appellate panel found exceptional circumstances precluded the application of res judicata, finding that the employees received minimal consideration through the Union settlement, and that their claims were never litigated or adjudicated through judicial proceedings. Thereafter, all parties filed writ applications to the Supreme Court of Louisiana, but only the applications of the State Defendants and the OPSB were granted.
On October 31, 2014, in a 5-2 decision with the Chief Justice dissenting, the Supreme Court of Louisiana reversed the appellate court's unanimous holding and ruled that no due process violation occurred. Additionally, the majority found that the application of res judicata did apply, and dismissed Petitioners' entire case. The application of res judicata included the dismissal of Plaintiff Class' severed and unlitigated claim arguing against the constitutionality of Act 35. The effect of the holding resulted in a violation of petitioners' due process and property rights under Article I, §§ 2 and 4 of Louisiana's Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The dismissal is an extreme application of the doctrine of res judicata and a party's right to have his or her day in court based on several decisions of this Court and other federal circuits. 
This Court is asked to grant this writ application.
    Public statements regarding no money and no jobs for pre-Katrina employees in New Orleans are refuted in a June 20, 2012 Trial Court Judgment issued by Judge Ethel Simms Julien (Footnote 3, page 3 of the Writ Application):
 "Notwithstanding the State Defendants' representation to the U.S. Department of Education that it needed over $770 million to pay the salaries and benefits of out-of work school employees, and the State Defendants' receipt of over $500 million dollars in post-Katrina federal "Restart Funds" based upon this representation, the State Defendants did not ensure that any of this money was used to pay the salaries or benefits of the Plaintiff Class. Rather, the State Defendants diverted these funds to the RSD."  (Pages 129 and 162 of Petitioners' Appendix submitted to U.S. Supreme Court) 
                  STATEMENT FROM WILLIE M. ZANDERS, LEAD COUNSEL
     All former OPSB employees should know that the march for justice for New Orleans public school 
employees is not over! On March 6, 2015, a formal application was sent to the Supreme Court of the United States asking the nine Justices to review whether the local school board and Louisiana education officials violated the due process and property rights of 7500 tenured/state certified public employees. 
     As we face this new and difficult challenge in our fight for justice, my head is unbowed and my spirit as strong now as in years past when I challenged "separate and unequal education at Grambling College and asking the U.S. Supreme Court to ban Louisiana's LEAP Test when 20,000 4th & 8th Graders were denied promotion in 2001.  I believe the takeover of 102 New Orleans Public Schools when students, parents, teachers and voters were under a mandatory evacuation due to Hurricane Katrina was unconstitutional, immoral, and un-American.  
     On September 15, 2005, my friends Walter Goodwin, Felton Walter and Ronald Coleman were with me at the first School Board meeting after Katrina, held in Baton Rouge and we saw Dr. Ora Watson, New Orleans' Acting Superintendent, in tears after a failed attempt by State Superintendent Cecil Picard and several OPSB members to give her job to the state-selected and controlled financial consultant from New York.  Some politicians have since told the media that "the New Orleans Model is about children---not adults and "choice" for parents."  How can it be said, that the New Orleans Model is about the children when their experienced teachers,  counselors, and coaches were fired and not there to help stressed and depressed students after America's worst natural disaster. In the schools taken over by the  state, there were more security guards than school counselors. Just this year, the so-called Recovery School District settled a class action lawsuit for failing to provide federally-mandated services to Special Education students for the past nine years. As to other school personnel who should have been there for children---- cafeteria workers, bus drivers, maintenance staff, and carpenters were replaced by out-of-state, no-bid private contractors when the school workers needed their jobs the most. Ernie Duncan, U.S.  Secretary of Education reportedly said Hurricane Katrina was a blessing for public schools in New Orleans. If so, Mr. Duncan owes those Katrina children who are now in the criminal justice system, a formal apology !   
     Other than filing a lawsuit for violation of the employees' due process and property rights, there was no other way to challenge this wrongful conduct.  Nearly ten years later, on page 16 of our application to the U.S. Supreme Court, we explained the "raw politics" behind the November 30, 2005 State takeover of 102 New Orleans Public Schools:
State defendants' "failing schools" argument [1] was no more than a pretext for the politically-motivated takeover of OPSB schools. More specifically, "On September 21, 2005, [OPSB] President Sanders, while displaced in Charleston, South Carolina, sent an email to "The New Orleans Agenda", an internet-based newsletter, openly complaining about Supt. Picard's efforts to replace Dr. Watson with Mr. Roberti and about a possible takeover of New Orleans Public Schools if Dr. Watson did not step down." (App.133a)   

Note: This legal argument is consistent with a short film, https://vimeo.com/107942075 about the State takeover produced by an educational research and advocacy group called The New Orleans Education Round Table. 

Finally, I honor the memories of former employees who are no longer with us, including one of seven Class Representatives, Gwendolyn Ridgley who is smiling from Heaven. I am well aware of the fact that thousands of class members and their families continue to suffer physically, emotionally, and financially and I thank them for their patience and prayers. From my heart, I thank the founders, attorneys, and staff of several Law Firms who continue to work on this historic case.  For anyone who cares, I remain inspired by my faith in God and the lessons I learned from my mother, Lelia Varnado Zanders, who passed in year three of this case.  I also thank my family, friends, and people of goodwill (of all races) for their support and words of encouragement.  As for the bloggers, who are paid to "muddy the narrative", I'm glad I don't have to do that type of work to survive.   



[2] "When schools opened in August 2005, the School Performance Score (SPS) that designated a school as passing was sixty (60). After Hurricane Katrina, the acceptable School Performance Score increased to 87.5. Consequently, while a score of "60" was "passing" as of August 29, 2005, it was "failing" as of November 30, 2005, the effective date of the State takeover of OPSB Schools. The SPS that designated a school as "passing" reverted to 60 in 2010. " (App. 143a) 



###

 
_________________

 

 

 
The New Orleans Agenda
Your Alternative Newsletter 
 News. Arts, Culture & Entertainment

Vincent T. Sylvain
Vincent T. Sylvain, Publisher
The New Orleans Agenda newsletter is the leading local alternative for information on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast Region.  A provider of turnkey Web-Based Internet Marketing Services, we specialize in providing outreach and communication services for governmental, faith-based, community, arts & cultural, and professional organizations.

We have received more than 7 Million Page Views!

The New Orleans Agenda
Vincent Sylvain
Publisher
Vincent@SylvainSolutions.com
www.NewOrleansAgenda.com
Opinions expressed on this mailing are not necessarily the views of The New Orleans Agenda or that of POLICAMP, Inc. unless explicitly stated.
Forward this email



This email was sent to lpbharley@aol.com by vincent@sylvainsolutions.com   
Update Profile/Email Address | Rapid removal with SafeUnsubscribe™  |  Privacy Policy.

The New Orleans Agenda | 392 East 6th Street | Edgard | LA | 70049

Let's Hold Our Schools Accountable for Success - Not Failure!

An Open Letter to BESE, the Legislature and the Press:

The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE)  has abdicated its legal responsibility under the law to issue clear guidance and information to school districts regarding numerous issues, but most recently the parental right to opt out of the state assessment.  BESE has not simply NEGLECTED to do this but has REFUSED as evidenced by their discussion and action at the March 5 public meeting.  

Someone must stand up and take action against the decision of BESE to break the law.  Parents should not have to be responsible for filing lawsuits to accomplish this. Too many schools and district administrators are telling parents who refuse the state test, inaccurately called the PARCC, that they must keep their children home during testing. This a clear violation of state truancy laws. Too many schools are telling parents that if their child shows up at school their child will be tested against their wishes. Too many schools are telling parents they cannot exercise their parental rights to refuse the test.  Too many students are being bullied by administrators and teachers against the LDE bullying policy and state law.  

The disruption and chaos perpetrated by John White and BESE can only be determined to be purposeful and designed to undermine the stability of our public school system in order to replace it with a corporate style privatized governance model that removes democratically elected school boards and community control of our schools from the citizens of this state.  

Parents value their public schools, not only for their own children but for the welfare of all children including those who are being and have historically been underserved. That is evidenced by the fact that the vast majority of parental refusals and voices statewide to save our schools have come from white, middle class, professionals whose children are high performing.  The media and a number of special interests and non-profits engaged in the privatization effort have tried to influence the public's thinking that this is a "politically motivated" or ideologically based effort to undermine the education of minorities, poor, English language learners and even special needs.  The fact that many of the most outspoken parents are dedicated to upholding the principles of the Constitutions of this nation and this state is evidence of the power and importance that those documents hold for the future health of our nation and its economy.  Although these parents have other choices by virtue of their financial abilities, and all are in high performing schools, they are fighting to save our public school system, not to destroy it.  

While it is our hope that our elected legislative officials will understand their role in preserving our constitutional responsibility to provide a public school system for every child, we recognize that ultimately every citizen has the responsibility, the authority 
and the power to accomplish this goal through their individual actions and their participation in elections.  That responsibility along with the welfare of their children is why parents have chosen to refuse the state assessment deceptively referred to as PARCC.  

It is time for this state to be released from the limitations of a system of standardization that has been sold has equity so that our public school system can move forward with truly innovative and forward thinking curriculum and pedagogy based on standards that guide us forward, not restrain us.  Conformity does not promulgate but suppresses innovation and creative thinking. It is time to end the punitive accountability system that uses a single high stakes tests to identify failure and replace it with a constructive system of accountability that identifies success, shares it, and builds on it - for all schools and all children. 




      RS 17:10.1      


§10.1.  School and district accountability system; purpose; responsibilities of state board
A.  It is the purpose of this Section to:
(1)  Provide for the development and implementation of a school and district accountability system which requires and supports student achievement in each public school.
(2)  Provide assurance to the citizens that the quality of education in each public school is monitored and maintained at levels essential for each student to receive a minimum foundation of education.
(3)  Provide clear standards and expectations for schools and school systems so that assessment of their effectiveness will be understood.
(4)  Provide information that will assist schools and school systems in order that energies and resources may be focused on student academic achievement.
B.  The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, hereafter referred to as the "state board", shall provide for a statewide system of accountability for schools and school districts based on student achievement and minimum standards for the approval of schools pursuant to R.S. 17:10.  Beginning with the 2011-2012 school year, such system shall be based, in part, on growth in student achievement using a value-added assessment model as determined by the state board.  The program shall include, at a minimum, clear and appropriate standards for schools and school districts, indicators for the assessment of schools and school districts, student achievement baselines, student growth targets, and appropriate minimum levels of student achievement for each public school and school district, rewards and corrective actions, specific intervals for assessment and reassessment of schools and school districts, a review process for evaluating growth targets, and technical assistance.
C.  The state board shall develop and adopt a policy to invalidate student achievement growth data using a value-added assessment model for any school year in which there is a natural disaster or any other unexpected event that results in the temporary closure of schools.
D.(1)  The state board shall, by rule, define "financially at risk" as a status of any city, parish, or other local public school board the unresolved finding of which subjects the school system and its board to the provisions of Chapter 9B of Title 39 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950 regarding the judicial appointment of a fiscal administrator.
(2)  Each city, parish, or other local public school board shall be notified on a regular basis by the state Department of Education of its status related to the elements of the definition of financially at risk.
E.  The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education shall not use any performance data or indicator, including student academic achievement, test scores, attendance rates, dropout rates, or completion rates, related to students enrolled in an alternative school or educational program operated within a juvenile residential center, juvenile detention center, or any facility under the jurisdiction of the office of juvenile justice in the calculation of any school or district performance score or measure for the city, parish, or other local public school system within the boundaries of which such facility is located.
F.  In addition to any other performance-related labels or designations assigned to public schools and school districts pursuant to the school and district accountability system, the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, in consultation with parents,  teachers, school administrators, and other education stakeholders, shall develop a letter grade system reflective of school and district performance that shall include but not necessarily be limited to the following:
(1)(a)  Assignment of a letter grade to each public elementary and secondary school and school district that is based upon the current method of determining school and district performance scores.
(b)  Any school that has been labeled academically unacceptable shall be assigned a grade of "F".
(2)  Inclusion of the letter grade assigned to each public school and school district in the school report cards compiled by the Department of Education and distributed to parents and in any public release of school and district performance scores.
(3)  Creation of an honor roll which recognizes all high-performing schools and high schools with graduation rates that exceed the state average, which shall also be made public when information relative to school and district performance scores and letter grades are released.
Acts 1997, No. 478, §1, eff. June 30, 1997; Acts 2001, No. 1137, §1; Acts 2005, No. 7, §1, eff. May 27, 2005; Acts 2010, No. 54, §1, eff. May 27, 2010; Acts 2010, No. 122, §1; Acts 2010, No. 718, §1.