Consumers Have Rejected the Common Core Sales Pitch

This insightful article reported from "Politico"  is by Stephanie Simon.  Thanks to Stephanie for pulling back the curtain on a product that no sales pitch with its faulty methods of persuasion could SELL to arguably the largest group of saavy consumers in America - MOMS!  That's because the "product" -Common Core - was meant to be consumed by their children and MOMS look closely at any product for their kids. Two major criteria just didn't make the cut: Will it harm them? Will it make them happy?

Since education and Common Core have become products in a free market economy, it's time to hold the owners of the Common Core copyright (CCSSO and NGA)  accountable for quality control and false advertising. Is this just another of Bill Gates' "Microsoft monopolies"?

The millions have proved no match for the moms.
Supporters of the Common Core academic standards have spent big this past year to persuade wavering state legislators to stick with the new guidelines for math and language arts instruction. Given the firestorm of opposition that took them by surprise, they consider it a victory that just five states, so far, have taken steps to back out.

But in a series of strategy sessions in recent months, top promoters of the standards have concluded they’re losing the broader public debate — and need to devise better PR.

Consider: Conservative commentators Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin held a crackling town hall meeting last week describing the Common Core as a threat to local control of education. The two-hour event was simulcast in 700 movie theaters nationwide and will be rebroadcast Tuesday night in more than 500.
About 10,000 aspiring activists have since downloaded Beck’s “action plan” for defeating the standards. Beck’s slogan, “We will not conform,” is still echoing on Twitter. FreedomWorks, the tea party group that co-sponsored the event, is planning Skype chats to hash out tactics with local activists inspired by the evening.
The response from Common Core backers?
A pair of sedate videos featuring three former Republican governors — one of whom has been out of office for 11 years — sitting in front of a gray backdrop, eyes fixed on a point slightly off camera as they cycled through familiar talking points. And a news release offering quotes from standards supporters, including a fifth-grade teacher in rural Colorado and a Pentecostal preacher from Virginia.

Neither seemed likely to set social media ablaze.
So, backed with fresh funding from philanthropic supporters, including a $10.3 million grant awarded in May from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, supporters are gearing up for a major reboot of the Common Core campaign.
“We’ve been fighting emotion with talking points, and it doesn’t work,” said Mike Petrilli, executive vice president of the Fordham Institute, a leading supporter of the standards. “There’s got to be a way to get more emotional with our arguments if we want to win this thing. That means we have a lot more work to do.”
Step one: Get Americans angry about the current state of public education.
To that end, expect to start hearing from frustrated college students who ended up in remedial classes even though they passed all their state tests and earned good grades in high school. “These kids should be as mad as hell” that the system failed them, Petrilli said.

Expect poignant testimonials, too, from business owners who have tried to hire kids from the local high school only to find they can’t do tasks involving basic math, such as separating out two-thirds of a pile of lumber.
Step two: Get voters excited about the prospects of change. Teachers who like the standards are going to be sharing more concrete examples of benefits they see in their classrooms. Groups representing minority students will likely be more vocal, too. The National Council of La Raza, for instance, is promoting a new video featuring a little girl who credits the standards with teaching her the word “whimsical.”
And there will be a whole lot more from the pro-Common Core side on social media, including Pinterest pages full of student work. A coming Twitter blitz will aim to stir up buzz for a new video that tracks a debate between four people who at first seem to want very different things from their schools — but end up discovering they all support the standards. The video, produced by an Arizona coalition, doesn’t once mention the well-worn talking points “academic rigor” or “international benchmarks.”
“The Common Core message so far has been a head message. We’ve done a good job talking about facts and figures. But we need to move 18 inches south and start talking about a heart message,” said Wes Farno, executive director of the Higher State Standards Partnership, a coalition supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable.
The looming PR blitz doesn’t worry Common Core opponents.
“The phrase we use a lot down here in our messaging is ‘putting lipstick on a pig,’” said Karen Effrem, co-founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition. “You can’t make something that’s so bad look good.”
Some Common Core backers are also dubious.
“There wasn’t a good job of messaging this early on, and I’m not sure those deficits can be addressed,” said Daniel Lautzenheiser, an education analyst at the American Enterprise Institute. Even a fresh approach, he said, might not be enough to “stem the tide of opposition.”
The mommy platoons
Standards supporters say they’re at a huge disadvantage in the PR fight because anytime a child brings home a confusing worksheet, gets a bad grade or stresses out about a test, parents can — and do — blame it on the Common Core. (An anonymous wag satirized that phenomenon with the launch last week of a Twitter feed that blames all the ills of the world on the standards. As in: “The car in front of me didn’t use a blinker. #ThanksCommonCore.”)
Teachers who like the Common Core say it’s revolutionized their classrooms, prodding students to read texts more closely and think more analytically. But it’s hard to convey that in a tweet. Really good sixth-grade essay questions rarely go viral. A nonsensical math problem might, whether or not it truly has anything to do with the Common Core.
Analysts say the opposition also has an edge because it’s tapped into a populist anger that animates both left and right. The self-proclaimed “mommy platoons” organized to take down the standards portray them as an inferior product forced on unsuspecting communities by a cabal of big business and big government elites. Every time supporters come out with sophisticated new promotional material, it only feeds their anger at the big money backing the Common Core, including about $200 million from the Gates Foundation.

Many of the opponents’ claims are misleading or outright false. But their passion leaves an indelible impression.
And until now, Common Core backers have tried to fight it with sober testimony at statehouse hearings and earnest op-eds in the local paper. With a few notable exceptions — like a peppy animated video produced by the Council of the Great City Schools — messaging in support of the standards has been fairly stilted, backers acknowledge with chagrin.

“We joke about it sometimes,” said Richard McKeon, education program director for the Helmsley Charitable Trust, which has directed $3 million in the past few months to bolster communications. The opposition, he says, stirs up waves of populist fury — and supporters “respond with a fact sheet.”
Common Core supporters acknowledge they also erred in publicly belittling opponents as silly, ignorant or outright kooky. “We make a great mistake by caricaturing the opponents of the standards as crazies or people who don’t tell the truth,” David Coleman, an architect of the standards, told Bloomberg EDU recently.
Another misstep: Much of the Common Core outreach to date has been aimed narrowly at politicians, not parents.
Indeed, some of the talking points crafted to win over Republican lawmakers seemed likely to backfire with moms and dads, such as when Billy Canary, president of the Business Council of Alabama, referred to children as “the product created by our education system” and said businesses need schools to start turning out better product.
The lobbying effort has kept 40 states and D.C. committed to the standards, but the Common Core remains a volatile issue in states including Louisiana, Wisconsin and Ohio. More repeal votes are expected in the coming year.
Meanwhile, national polling released in the spring by Achieve Inc., which helped write the standards, found voters more skeptical of the Common Core than they were two years ago. A Pew Research Center report last month found solid opposition among all Republicans, not just tea party members, while support from liberals was fairly anemic, at around 55 percent. And a recent Siena College poll of likely voters in New York state found 49 percent want to drop the standards and only 39 percent want to keep them.
“The bottom line here is that parents need more information, and maybe we haven’t been good enough at telling them the story,” said Karen Nussle, a veteran PR strategist who runs the Collaborative for Student Success.
Ditching the data points
The collaborative is working on the new outreach campaign, drawing on a $14 million annual budget from a number of philanthropies, led by the Gates Foundation.
Other groups are pitching in, too.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is working on an animated website that will pay homage to the playful spirit of children and link the Common Core to that kind of creativity. Vice President Cheryl Oldham boasts that there won’t be a single data point on the site; it’s designed to prompt a visceral, not an intellectual, response.
“We’re so good at all our statistics and data and rational arguments … [but] emotion is what gets people feeling passionate,” Oldham said. “It may not be the most comfortable place for the business community … [but] we need to get better at doing it.”
The pro-Common Core side lacks the star power of the opposition, which has been boosted not just by Beck and Malkin but by comedians like Stephen Colbert and Louis C.K. Former NBA star Isiah Thomas wrote an op-ed supporting the standards, and foundations set up by the actress Eva Longoria and singer John Legend helped fund a pro-Common Core TV ad that ran on Fox News this spring, but none of the three has taken on a highly visible role.
Instead, the new campaign will rely heavily on ordinary people seen as trusted messengers in their local community — teachers, pastors, small-business owners.
“There’s a whole group of people out there who are reasonable and want to talk about a good education for their children. Those are the people we want to reach,” said Carissa Miller, deputy executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, which helped write the standards.
Common Core opponents are also updating their PR playbook.
They’re using their social media savvy to disrupt pro-standards outreach. A recent Twitter town hall sponsored by the Learning First Alliance was continually interrupted by the digital equivalent of hecklers who used the chat’s hashtag, #CCSStime, to post photos of confusing Common Core homework and challenge the motivation of those supporting the standards.
Activists are also pushing one another to tone down the wild-eyed rhetoric that has repeatedly cropped up on some websites. They warn newcomers to the cause that even a few outlandish claims make it easy for Common Core backers to dismiss the entire opposition as conspiracy theorists in tinfoil hats.
“The Common Core is so bad, you don’t have to lie,” said Erin Tuttle, co-founder of Hoosiers Against Common Core. “If you can’t prove what you’re saying, if you can’t back it up with a document or a source, you shouldn’t put it out there.”
In that vein, strategists at the Glenn Beck event told activists to refrain from describing the standards as a communist plot and to steer clear of phrases that might turn off liberals, like comparing the standards to Obamacare. (Not all took the call for moderation to heart: A tweet using Beck’s #wewillnotconform hashtag called Common Core “a page from hitler playbook.”)
Beck’s action plan also urges members of his grass-roots army to actually read the standards they’re critiquing. And it recommends calm, concise presentations.
“You can be angry or effective,” said Brian Glicklich, a crisis communications expert who spoke at the event, “but you can rarely be both at the same time.

BESE Abdicates Constitutional Authority to PARCC, PEARSON and U.S.ED

Chas, you continue to say "This is a question of who has authority to write the questions for our test."  You are absolutely correct and it is absolutely clear that PEARSON has been given the authority to write the questions by virtue of Louisiana's MOU and commitment to PARCC.  BESE has abdicated its authority and THIS is unconstitutional! 
 BESE members MUST admit they have been bamboozled by John White and turn this thing around.  Your reputations are at stake.  
Baton Rouge -- (Press Release) The Jindal Administration has filed a lawsuit to invalidate the Memorandum of Understanding with Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

The filing challenges the MOU on the basis that it offends state sovereignty by attempting to improperly delegate the constitutional authority of BESE and the Legislature to a “consortium” of other states.

The non-delegation doctrine is recognized in both federal and state law and is based on the principle that certain powers authorized to the state cannot be delegated to other public or non-public entities.

The Jindal Administration’s outside counsel Jimmy Faircloth said, “In simple terms, the non-delegation doctrine protects the democratic process by preventing a constitutional body from assigning or transferring its constitutional obligations to other public or private entities. By its clear terms, the PARCC MOU purports to commit the development of Louisiana education policy to a private non-Louisiana entity controlled by a ‘Governing Board’ consisting of individuals who are completely unaccountable to Louisiana voters. The procurement dispute is a result of the illusion that the PARCC MOU somehow insults the assessment process from the strictures of state law. It squarely demonstrates the very harm that the non-delegation doctrine is intended to prevent.”

Click here to read the lawsuit.
And this, purely and simply, is exactly what has happened. All authority for our standards and the PARCC assessment has been abdicated by BESE via these agreements. Here are the New Mexico contract with Pearson for the PARCC test which is clearly written on behalf of all the PARCC states that purchase the tests, along with the PARCC By-Laws, and the Cooperative agreement between U.S.ED and PARCC. It just couldn't be any clearer.
Coop agreement FED and PARCC
New Mexico procurement contract with Pearson:

Louisiana Act 833 of 2014 Alternative Pathways for Grade Promotion and Graduation

Please read the following attachment regarding Act 833.  If your child or someone you know is affected by this new state education law, please contact or

Shanee Holmes
LaTEACH Leader Region 1 & 10

Act 833 of 2014
Alternative Pathways for Grade Promotion and Graduation

What is Act 833 of 2014?

Act 833 establishes alternative pathways for grade promotion and graduation for students with disabilities who have not passed standardized tests or met local requirements for promotion. This shift in policy is a monumental departure from Louisiana being among the states with the most stringent and restrictive policies for grade promotion and graduation to Louisiana joining many states in recognizing the role a student's Individualized Education Program (IEP) should have in determining student outcomes.

School systems are preparing for changes that will go into effect this school year. Parents of students with disabilities are asked to work with their school system to ensure as many students as possible are able to benefit from changes to their IEPs in the first 30 days of school. There are not any state requirements for promotion in the 2014-2015 school year (i.e., no high stakes test performance requirements for 4th and 8th grades). Therefore, the focus of Act 833, alternative pathways, will be on students who need consideration to earn credits toward graduation.

Introductory PowerPoint on Act 833

Frequently Asked Questions about Act 833

Additional Information on Act 833

Rules will be promulgated to guide the implementation of Act 833. Stakeholders will continue advocating to ensure the rules reflect the intent and spirit of Act 833. To join in the advocacy efforts for this and other issues related to students with disabilities, click here. The Special Education Advisory Panel (SEAP) will meet on Monday, August 4 to make recommendations for the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) regarding policy changes related to alternative pathways for some students with disabilities to be promoted or graduate as indicated by Act 833. For information on this meeting, click here.

John White and LDE Break the Law Again!

Reposted from Mike Deshotel's Blog, Louisiana Educator:

All of this test score manipulation is a problem for Louisiana students and schools, but the most significant problem for John White is that federal funding is based in part on these test scores and school performance scores are used to allocate monetary awards of TAXPAYER money to schools and districts.  Eventually someone will respond to our complaints and hold these people LEGALLY responsible.  

White Refuses to Release Raw LEAP Cut Scores
A press statement accompanying the release of the Spring 2014 LEAP and iLEAP testing results announced that the percentage of students receiving a rating of "mastery" on the LEAP had improved this year and the percentage of students rated "basic" remained steady this year despite the inclusion of more "rigorous" Common Core aligned questions on this year's tests. The press release from the LDOE stated:

"The Department of Education today announced that on LEAP and iLEAP tests aligned to more challenging learning standards, the percentage of students performing at the state’s 2025 expectation of “mastery” (level 4 out of 5) increased in both English Language Arts and math, while the percentage of students performing at the state’s expectation level established in 1999, “basic” (level 3 out of 5), remained steady."

Using critical thinking skills to decipher the real meaning of the above statement, I began to ask myself "Does this press release mean that more students got a higher percentage of answers correct on this year's test than they did last year even though the test was supposed to be more difficult?" Also I wondered: "Does performance at a level of 4 out of 5 mean that students got 80% of the questions on the test correct? Does a rating of "basic" mean that a student got at least 60% (3 out of 5) of the questions right?" But after studying the technical explanations at the LDOE website, I concluded that the press release tells us nothing about what percentage of correct answers are represented by the ratings of "basic" and "mastery".  It also really tells us nothing about whether students got more or fewer right answers on this year's test compared to last year. To figure that out we would have to know the raw scores equivalent to such ratings. . . . and John White is not telling us the raw scores: the percentage of correct answers required to produce a rating of basic or mastery.

You see it turns out that the raw scores, or percentage of correct answers for the ratings of "basic" and "mastery" can be changed from year-to-year based upon judgements made by the LDOE and the testing company employed by the Department to design and grade the tests. The policy of the Department is that if the test for a particular year contains more difficult questions (in the opinion of the DOE and the testing company), the decision can be made to lower the raw cut score (the percentage of correct answers) for a rating of either "basic" or "mastery" to "adjust" for the greater difficulty of the new test. The following is the technical explanation given by the LDOE for adjusting or resetting the raw cut scores from one test form to the next: (From the DOE Technical Summary Report page 6)
"Equivalency is established by first building the forms to be equated according to tight content specifications. Then the form scores are placed on the same scale, such that students performing on an assessment at the same level of (underlying) achievement should receive the same scaled-score, although they may not receive the same number-correct score (or raw score).(emphasis added) The raw-to-scaled-score relationship performs this leveling function based on form equating studies. Theoretically, differences in the raw-to-scaled-score relationship between the two forms can be partially due to differences in the samples utilized for calibration and the differences in item difficulty."

So until we know how the raw cut scores compare this year with previous years, we really don't know whether on not student performance at the basic level "remained steady" or that the percentage of students performing at a level of mastery has improved.

That's why on June 10th I made a public records request of John White as the custodian of public records for the LDOE to provide me with the percentage of correct answers needed for students to receive a rating of basic and mastery for this year compared to the previous year. I also asked for a copy of any communications between the LDOE and the contracted testing company concerning any adjustments in test scores from last year to this year. But after more than a month of wrangling with the attorney representing John White and the DOE I was informed Friday that the Department is not in possession of the information I requested. How can the DOE not have the information it used to to give ratings on LEAP and iLEAP to approximately 500,000 Louisiana students?

What is the definition of a public record anyway? According to the Public Affairs Research Council which for years has advised the public in Louisiana on the meaning of the public records laws, the definition is: "Generally anything having been used, being in use or prepared for use in the conduct of public business is a public record, regardless of physical form." Based on this definition, I believe that the raw cut scores for a rating of basic and mastery on the LEAP tests are public records and should be provided to any citizen requesting them.

Our state superintendent, John White, before coming to Louisiana worked in the New York system of Education. The New York state agency was notorious for manipulating the cut scores used for determining the performance of students and schools in New York. It has been revealed recently that the raw cut scores were changed drastically over a 10 year period to first make it seem that student performance had improved dramatically and then last year the cut scores were changed to show a drop in performance when probably no real change had occurred. Is something similar now happening in Louisiana? We won't know unless John White provides us with the raw percentage scores for the ratings of basic and mastery over a period of years. We have a right to know if data is being improperly manipulated. We need to know if moving to Common Core testing is going to cause our students to perform higher or lower on the state tests.

I have offered to meet with White or his staff to resolve this matter amicably but that is not happening and it seems like my only option now is legal action once again to simply get White to follow state law.

Louisiana Joins Parent Coalition for Student Privacy

July 24, 2014

For more information contact:

Leonie Haimson:
Rachael Stickland:
Lee P. Barrios:

New Coalition Urges Congress to Listen to Parents and Strengthen Student Privacy Protections

A new national coalition called the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy released a letter this week to the leaders of the committees of the House and Senate Education Committees, urging Congress to strengthen FERPA and involve parents in the decision-making process to ensure that their children’s privacy is protected.
Many of the groups and individuals in the Coalition were involved in the battle overinBloom, which closed its doors last spring.  They were shocked to learn during this struggle how federal privacy  protections and parental rights to protect their children’s safety through the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)  had eroded over the last decade. These parents represent a broad spectrum of personal, political, and religious beliefs but are united in their concern for their parental rights and the privacy of their children.  

The letter is posted here, and calls for Congress to hold hearings and enact new privacy protections that would minimize the sharing of highly sensitive student data with vendors and among state agencies and would maximize the right of parents to notification and consent.  The letter also asks for strict security requirements, that the law be enforceable through fines, and that parents have the right to sue if their children’s privacy is violated.

Lee Barrios, teacher,  member of the Coalition for Louisiana Public Education, Information Coordinator for Save Our Schools March, and PCSP founding member said that Louisiana parents crossed only the first hurdle in protecting their children with the passage of Act 837 during the 2014 legislative session.  The legislation was precipitated by parents whose investigations revealed that State Department of Education Superintendent John White had contracted with inBloom to store personally identifiable student information including social security numbers. The bill requires that the Louisiana Department of Education develop anonymous student identification numbers and the department will also be prohibited from seeing or keeping any personally identifiable data about a child. Students' names, addresses and other information will only be 
maintained at the local school district level. 
St. Tammany parent Debbie Sachs, along with her daughter Rachel, became privacy activists as a result of Rachel's realization that her personal information was targeted.  Rachel's testimonies before legislative committees and the State Board of Education were compelling.  Ms. Sachs says, "It is a sad day when children have to take a day off of school to travel to Baton Rouge to ask legislators to please protect their right to privacy.  it is an even sadder day to see the chilling effect of the 21st century data mining in the classroom.  Children no longer feel safe using technology to submit essays, opinions, and other assignments.  Teachers and parents are becoming wary as well."  In Rachel's words, "Will this data be used against me?  It all comes down to fear." 
Jason France, Baton Rouge parent formerly employed by LDE as an IT expert, said,"Information is proving to be the most valuable commodity of the 21st Century. We must all fight to keep ourselves and our society safe from the information prospectors that see us and our children as little more than their next Klondike while they conspire to chain us inextricably to their Big Data mines."
Louisiana attorney and parent of four Sara Wood, who understands the legal and constitutional ramifications of massive data collection, said, "Privacy is a foundational principle of freedom.  Freedoms are not absolute and they can be burdened by government action, however,  the integrity of that freedom is maintained by requiring due process and consent where applicable for government action."  

Rachael Stickland, a leader in the fight for student privacy in Colorado and co-chair of the Coalition to Protect Student Privacy points out, “inBloom’s egregious attempt to siphon off massive amounts of sensitive student information and to share it with for-profit vendors took parents by surprise.  Once we learned that recent changes to FERPA allowed non-consensual disclosure of highly personal data, parents became fierce advocates for their children’s privacy.  We’re now prepared to organize nationally to promote strong, ethical privacy protections at the state and federal levels.”

Diane Ravitch, President of the Network for Public Education said: “Since the passage of FERPA in 1974, parents expected that Congress was protecting the confidentiality of information about their children. However, in recent years, the US Department of Education has rewritten the regulations governing FERPA, eviscerating its purpose and allowing outside parties to gain access to data about children that should not be divulged to vendors and other third parties. The Network for Public Education calls on Congress to strengthen FERPA and restore the protection of families’ right to privacy.”

“The uprising against inBloom demonstrated the extent to which parents will not tolerate the misuse of their children’s sensitive personal information,” said Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood’s Associate Director Josh Golin. “But parents cannot be expected to mobilize against each and every threat to their children’s privacy, particularly if they’re not even aware of which vendors have access to student data. It is critical that Congress take real steps to protect schoolchildren from those who see student data as a commodity to be exploited for profit.” 

“Parents Across America, a national network of public school parents , emphatically supports this call for hearings as a first step toward reversing federal actions that have eroded parental authority over student data, and including even stronger privacy protections for our children,” said Julie Woestehoff, a Chicago parent activist and PAA secretary.  She added: “PAA recommends restoring parental authority over student data that was removed from FERPA by the US Department of Education, enacting state laws that include parental opt out provisions in any statewide data sharing program, strictly regulating in-school use of electronic hardware and software that collect student information, and including significant parent representation on any advisory committees overseeing student data collection.”

Lisa Guisbond, executive director of Citizens for Public Schools, a Massachusetts public education advocacy group, said, “Citizens for Public Schools members, including many parents, are deeply concerned about threats to the privacy of student information. We support hearings and strong legislation to protect the privacy of this data. Parents are increasingly left out of important education policy discussions. In this, as in all crucial school policy discussions, they must have a voice.”

“Parents will accept nothing less than parental consent, when it comes to their child’s personally identifiable sensitive information. As a parent of a child with special needs, I understand the devastation that confidential information used without my consent could 
have on my child’s future.  As a long-time advocate for people with autism and other developmental disabilities, I implore the U.S. House and Senate to put the necessary language back into FERPA to protect students and uphold the right of their families to control their personally identifiable data,”   said Lisa Rudley, Director of Education Policy, Autism Action Network and Co-Founder of NYS Allies for Public Education.

Emmett McGroarty of the American Principles Project said, “Regardless of intention, the collection of an individual’s personal information is a source of discomfort and intimidation.  Government’s broad collection of such information threatens to undermine America’s founding structure:  if government intimidates the people, government cannot be by and for the people.”

Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters and co-chair of the Coalition, concluded, “Since inBloom’s demise, many of the post-mortems have centered around the failure of elected officials and organizations who support more data sharing to include parents in the conversation around student privacy.   We are no longer waiting to be invited to this debate.  It is up to parents to see that we are heard , not only in statehouses but also in the nation’s capital when it comes to the critical need to safeguard our children’s most sensitive data – which if breached or misused could harm their prospects for life.  We are urging Congress to listen to our concerns, and act now.”
For more information see

Lee P. Barrios, M.Ed., NBCT

Debbie Sachs
Jason France
Sara Wood

Asking For Clarity on Ethics of John White

To be clear, if you see this reported in the media......


Re:  John White and BESE Members Will Be Targets of New Ethics Complaint

For more information contact:  Lee P. Barrios

Parents, educators and other public education activists find it necessary now to disclose their intent to file a complaint with the Louisiana Ethics Administration regarding questionable activities and professional relationships of State Education Superintendent John White and several Louisiana state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) members

While the public has an expectation that our officials and employees will respect the laws governing them, history has shown that holding them accountable must be the ultimate responsibility of those for whom they are paid or elected to serve. 

We believe that conflicts of interest by certain BESE members do in fact exist and that clarification and the recent expansion of those relationships need to be brought to the Board of Ethics. Our concerns and questions have been rebuffed in attempts to communicate with BESE members directly, and formal public information requests have not been responsive. We will now turn our concerns and evidence over to the office charged with making the final determinations in such cases. 

While specifics of our complaints about BESE members will be left to the Board of Ethics, our most recent concerns for Supt. White can be found in his publicly filed financial disclosures reports.  White has been the recipient of remuneration for travel, lodging and meals from several organizations that we believe garner undue influence.  One of several concerns is White's acceptance of over $700 for his appearance described as Teacher for America Connecticut Benefit Dinner.  White reported to the press that he "typically pays for travel expenses with a personal credit card and then provides a receipt for reimbursement from the state.  . . . . the organization provides a donation to the state in the amount of my travel expenses."  If that excuse flys it will be accompanied by pigs! My public information request for such documentation has not been answered. 

Supt. White has described "subtle shifts in the tone and substance of the public," "insinuations" that his motivations are "potentially nefarious," and has described opposition to the Common Core Standards and its PARCC assessment as escalating political rhetoric "unfairly targeted" at him personally.  We would like to bring clarity to Supt. White's concerns. 

 There is no insinuation or subtlety to our position that, in the words of U.S. Senate Resolution 345 and House Resolution 476:  Whereas education belongs in the hands of our parents, local officials, local educational agencies, and States.

Supt. White and the majority of the BESE members must have an agenda other than that of respect and honor for Louisiana parents and professional educators who work together at the classroom level on behalf of THEIR children for whom THEY are held ultimately accountable. We believe that ethical breaches are indicative of and a result of that agenda.  Not only is the effort to force standardization of our children dangerous to their intellectual, emotional and physical health, but the use of a single high stakes standardized test is an invalid, unreliable and potentially disastrous measure of success or failure. 

In lieu of a full and appropriate audit of the Louisiana Department of Education, we intend to provide through persistent questioning, research and demand for transparency  true clarity to the illegitimacy of the entire Common Core initiative.  The public needs to question why Supt. White has offered up so much resistance.  

Advocates For Child a Privacy Applaud Georgetown University Law School

Georgetown Law Launches New Center on Privacy and Technology

July 21, 2014 —
Georgetown University Law Center Dean William M. Treanor is pleased to announce the establishment of the new Center on Privacy and Technology. The Center will bring Georgetown Law’s legal expertise to bear on privacy debates in federal and state legislatures, regulatory agencies and the academy. It will also train Georgetown Law students to be leaders in privacy practice, policymaking and advocacy. 

“We are in the midst of a debate about privacy that has the most profound importance, and the ways in which it is resolved will shape the most central aspects of our lives,” Treanor said. “The new Center on Privacy and Technology will ensure that our faculty and students stay at the forefront of that debate for years to come.”

Alvaro Bedoya, Chief Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy and to Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.), will serve as the Center’s first Executive Director. The Center’s Faculty Directors will include Professors Julie Cohen, David Vladeck, Laura Donohue and Angela Campbell.
“For too many people, Big Data means Little Privacy,” said Mr. Bedoya. “The Center will be a leading voice in the debate to preserve privacy and civil liberties alongside rapidly advancing technology. I’ll be honored to lead it.”

“Alvaro is one of the nation's leading experts on the intersection of privacy, law and technology. And he's one of most talented and hard working lawyers I’ve ever met. While I'm sad to see him leave my staff after five outstanding years of service to the people of Minnesota, I’m equally excited to see Georgetown’s Center on Privacy and Technology flourish under his leadership,” said Senator Al Franken, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law.
Among the projects the Center intends to tackle are the impact of government surveillance on civil rights and economic justice, the implications of the growing use of “Big Data” techniques to make important decisions about individuals, and the privacy issues presented by breakthrough commercial technologies such as health apps, “wearables” and biometric authentication services. The Center will also offer a practicum course to teach students privacy law and basic technology tools while working on the Center’s projects.

The Center is funded by a generous grant from the Ford Foundation, the nation’s leading institutional donor for privacy-related initiatives.

Alvaro M. Bedoya currently serves as Chief Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law and to its Chairman, Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.). He has organized Senate hearings and led oversight investigations regarding many of the nation’s leading tech companies as well as the NSA, FBI and DOJ. Since joining Senator Franken’s staff on his first day in office in 2009, he has advised Senator Franken in crafting legislation on mobile location privacy, health data privacy and NSA transparency and has coordinated the Senator’s work to improve the privacy protections around biometric technology like facial recognition and fingerprint readers. He will join the Center in August at the conclusion of the current Senate legislative work period.

Professor Julie Cohen is one of the nation's foremost privacy theorists. Professor Cohen teaches and 
writes about copyright, information privacy regulation and the governance of information and communication networks. Her recent book, Configuring the Networked Self: Law, Code, and the Play of Everyday Practice (Yale University Press, 2012), was awarded the 2013 Association of Internet Researchers Book Award and was shortlisted for the Surveillance & Society Journal’s 2013 Book Prize.

Professor David Vladeck recently returned to Georgetown Law after serving for nearly four years as the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC is the nation’s chief regulatory agency charged with protecting privacy and data security with respect to commercial entities. During his tenure at the FTC, the agency issued many guidance documents on online and mobile privacy and brought over 50 privacy enforcement cases, many against large technology firms, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and others.  

Professor Angela Campbell is one of the nation’s leading advocates for protecting children’s privacy. She has taught at Georgetown Law’s Institute for Public Representation (IPR), a legal clinical program and public interest law firm, since 1988. IPR represents nonprofit organizations before the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission to enforce and establish media policies in the public interest.

Professor Laura Donohue is one of the nation’s leading experts on national security issues and directs Georgetown’s Center on National Security and the Law. She writes on national security and counterterrorist law in the United States and United Kingdom. Her most recent book, The Cost of Counterterrorism: Power, Politics and Liberty (Cambridge University Press, 2008) analyzes the impact of American and British counterterrorist law on life, liberty, property, privacy and free speech.

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