Rick Hess Perpetuates the Myth of RSD Success

While Rick Hess gets media space promoting the false success of the  New Orleans Recovery School District experiment, the facts abound.  I decided to post just a few references for anyone wanting some quick research. How do Rick and his reformees manage to maintain their positions? $$$$$$$$$




Untold Truths about the Corporate Education Reforms

COMMON CORE STANDARDS: ANOTHER $CHEME THAT FAILS CHILDREN IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Common Core is another idea manufactured by a powerful group of wealthy individuals in this country whose mission is making public education a profitable private enterprise while controlling which students go to which schools………
School Choice New Orleans style……
The Louisiana Legislature needs to follow the money……
Dropout data by the Louisiana Department of education unmasked
The unquestionable autonomy of the charter schools in New Orleans is jaw dropping as state officials ignore the assault they do to the public school children in New Orleans.
The hypocrisy of charter schools in Louisiana
After more than eight years of refusing to serve special needs children in New Orleans the Louisiana Department of Education finally comply.
Charter schools continued failure to meet the needs of special education students in New Orleans
MORE BAD NEWS FOR THE RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT OF NEW ORLEANS
Charles Hatfield of Research on Reforms recently released his analysis of the 2014 LEAP results in math and english language arts. The LEAP test is Louisiana state mandated test taken by all the public schools to determine student and school district’s academic progress. 
Once again the results are not promising for the Recovery School District of New Orleans. The Recovery School District of New Orleans labeled by education reformers as the national model of turning around poor performing school districts has consistently performed poorly academically since it took over control of the majority of public schools in New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina. 
Hatfield concludes the following in his report: 
However, despite the achievement gains reported during the past nine years by the ardent supporters of this ”reform” movement, the RSD-NO is still performing below the vast majority of the other districts at the 4th and 8th grades in each subject.
One really has to wonder when the nation is going to realize that the privatization of schools in New Orleans has been a failure academically in addition to creating equity and access challenges for the mostly poor and minority population of New Orleans.
More importantly the education reforms in New Orleans is prove for the nation that the market model approach to improving public education touted by education reformers for years can’t work.
A foremr Dean of Students at a charter school in New Orleans describes how the charter school he worked in as Colonizing Black Natives
It is very clear that the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) is determined to mislead the public on the lack of academic progress of the corporate reforms they have created (charter and voucher schools). This article from the Washington Post reveals how the LDOE violated the law to continue its failed educational practices. Corrupt government at its worst.
More evidence of the charter school/voucher shell game with the lowest state scores on the ACT coming for the state run schools in New Orleans.
More on Jindal and White giving away your tax dollars
Once again Louisiana leading the pack in keeping the public out of public education.
When will the Louisiana Department of Education be held accountable for following their own policy?
More on the No Excuse Schools (KIPP) that have more than questionable discipline practices……unbelievable.
Education journalist Kari Harden recent article in the Louisiana Weekly which describes the unethical if not illegal use of a $800,000 federal grant awarded to John McDonogh Charter High School from New Schools for New Orleans. Ms. Harden’s article revealed that most of these funds awarded to John McDonogh Charter High School was used for unusually high salaries to members of the school’s charter management company and the school’s principal while the school struggled to survive financially.
Last year Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, co-chair of the Senate Public Charter School Caucus in Washington, DC, hosted a forum for education policymakers. The forum featured the New Schools for New Orleans report New Orleans-Style Education Reform: A Guide for Cities. This report was be hailed as a “national” model for turning around urban school districts. 
Attached is a response to this report from the Urban South Grassroots Research Collective which includes education scholars and those affiliated with longstanding educational and cultural organizations in New Orleans. 
The response essay points out the fundamental flaws in the New Schools for New Orleans report and reveals many of failures and challenges facing poor and minority students. 
Broader Bolder Approach to Education Study reports on the impacts of test-based teacher evaluations, school closures, and increased charter school access on student outcomes in New York, Chicago and Washington D.C.
———————————————————————————————–

EduBloggers.org by Member Ken Previti

I am a founding member of The EduBloggersNetwork.  We are all dedicated to the most accurate reporting we can provide.  Membership is open to dedicated bloggers determined to reveal the truth about education reforms. This blog by member Ken Previti.

*****

There are times when a teacher needs to have the facts, simple or complex. For complex information, very often there are multiple facets that need to be examined from different points of view. Who can you turn to when faced with the overwhelming problems that surround you? Who has no personal power base or money to gain from the information? What group of people will offer you unbiased facts and their experienced perspectives for you to consider?
EdBlogNet
The EduBloggersNetwork, a group of over 200 individual bloggers with solid education backgrounds and unique perspectives from schools across the country, are respected for their varied experiences and focus. They do not march in lock-step nor are they paid by billionaires and their tax-free mega-wealthy foundations which are heavily invested (for profit) in corporate education reform.
During one of the online conversations that questioned each blogger’s reasoning for blogging in support of teachers against incredible pressures backed by billionaire investors, one blogger’s comment in particular touched the heart of the subject.
“I read many blogs on education and many of the articles that hit the alternative mainstream opinion media, such as Huffington Post and Salon. And yet when I talk to well-educated progressive public school parents in the Bay Area, I find myself explaining the corporate takeover of public schools from square one. People are fascinated, yet almost cannot stomach yet one more terrible thing going on in our world- and something so deeply personal for the parents. Each time I write a blog post I pretend to write to parents and teachers who are smart and want to know, but have very limited knowledge about the moneyed interests in public education. I believe we all have to keep writing as if to an audience who is hearing this for the first time, and connect, connect, connect with love- for teaching, for children, for honesty, for common sense, for humility and integrity.”– Maestra Malinche
https://teachingmalinche.wordpress.com/
You as a teacher face very specific problems that you must come to terms with regarding your career and your personal integrity. By reading information and strongly supported opinions from teachers such as Maestra and the others in the Education Bloggers Network, your needs can be met.
EduBloggers: Dedicated to truth-telling for democracy.
The Education Bloggers Network is an informal confederation of more than 200 education reporters, advocacy journalists, investigative bloggers, and commentators.  Members of the Education Bloggers Network are dedicated to providing parents, teachers, public education advocates and the public with the truth about public education in the United States and the efforts of the corporate education reform industry.
Many members of the Education Bloggers Network have their own blogs, some write news analysis and commentary pieces for local, regional and national newspapers and media outlets.  Still others use their Facebook or other social media platforms to write about public education issues.
Like the Committees of Correspondence leading up to America’s War for Independence, education bloggers work alone, in groups and has a broader force to educate, persuade and mobilize parents, teachers, education advocates and citizens to stand up and speak out about the critical issues facing public education today.
The Education Bloggers Network also works closely with the Network for Public Education, the nation’s leading public education advocacy group, founded my Diane Ravitch and other pro-public education leaders.  The NPE’s mission is to “protect, preserve, promote, and strengthen public schools and the education of current and future generations of students.”
Twitter – @EdBlogNet
Go to the site for the names of the the individual bloggers. Prepare to be delightedly surprised. Prepare to meet education realities from multiple points of view. It is to your advantage to read what they have to say.
How effective are these bloggers? Copy-cat similarly named blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts abound. Paid trolls attempt to win the unaware away to their own groups ; they are profiteering vultures disguised as independent eagles. So, please, for your own sake, consult the actual sites and accounts of those who sincerely attempt to help you.
EduBloggersNetwork is on your side. Over 200 educators with blogs are on your side.

ASCD Hollers Uncle on HIGH STAKES use of Standardized test!

Louisiana Department of Education John White has built a culture of failure surrounding our public school system and has partially succeeded in convincing the public that our teachers and our schools are FAILURES!  He has accomplished this by choreographing chaos using a business strategy called "disruption."  The Common Core Standards are one of the tools in his much touted "tool box." 
 
It is my position based on extensive study of the most recent school reform movement that the Common Core Standards were never intended to represent a rigorous set of standards that would propel our students into the 21st century prepared for college and career.  They are not just poorly written and developmentally inappropriate -  They are a HOAX!   Our system of public education has been HACKED!  Pathetic implementation was not a product of incompetence on the part of Supt. White.  It was orchestrated. 
 
Louisiana educators and parents have been attempting to expose this HOAX for several years, but John White has destroyed their credibility.  But we are hearing more and more from experts outside of the state who are stepping up to expose this national travesty. This is one such highly esteemed organization - The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, ASCD. 
 
Read their clear, concise statement about the Common Core's most valuable weapon - HIGH STAKES assessment.  The focus and the turmoil around Common Core has been perpetuated by John White to keep the focus off of the real enemy - HIGH STAKES application of our state assessment.  If you want to hear John White squeal - threaten to take away HIGH STAKES over which only he has control.  
 
 
Message from Scott Richard, LSBA Executive Director:

Begin forwarded message:
From: Scott Richard <srichard@lsba.com>
Date: February 9, 2015 at 2:30:24 PM CST

Subject: RE: ASCD Calls for TWO YEAR MORATORIUM - STATE TESTING FOR HIGH STAKES PURPOSES; 15 LOUISIANA - LOCAL BOARDS IN LA PASS RESOLUTIONS REGARDING THE ISSUE
LSBA Board of Directors, Superintendents and Public Ed Stakeholders:
Please note that as of today, there are fourteen (14) local school boards that have passed resolutions regarding the opt-out movement and requesting that LDOE and BESE NOT PENALIZE schools or districts in the state accountability system should a parent exercise the choice to “opt-out” of state testing.
Bossier, Caddo, Calcasieu, DeSoto, Evangeline, Iberia, Jackson, Jeff Davis, St. Helena, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, St. Tammany, and Washington Parishes.
Also, please note the message from the national group – Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development – calling for a two year break/moratorium from using state assessments as high stakes tests. In Louisiana, the current state of accountability for local districts results in the school and the district receiving a ZERO if a student “Opts-Out” of the test.
 
Who We Are
Founded in 1943, ASCD (doing business as the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) is the global leader in developing and delivering innovative programs, products, and services that empower educators to support the success of each learner.
 
Comprising 125,000 members—superintendents, principals, teachers, professors, and advocates from more than 138 countries—the ASCD community also includes 56 affiliate organizations. The nonprofit's diverse, nonpartisan membership is its greatest strength, projecting a powerful, unified voice to decision makers around the world.
The association provides expert and innovative solutions in professional development, capacity building, and educational leadership essential to the way educators learn, teach, and lead.
 
ASCD Testing and Accountability Statement
Share Your Support: Join the ASCD Forum
ΓΌ  Show your support for a two-year break from using state assessment for high-stakes purposes, and share your thoughts on the ASCD Forum.
A two-year moratorium on using state assessments for high-stakes purposes is needed. States can and should still administer standardized assessments and communicate the results and what they mean to districts, schools, and families, but without the threat of punitive sanctions that have distorted their importance. ASCD is strongly advocating for a new approach in which testing is just one tool among many in determining whether our students are prepared for a successful future after high school graduation.
 
Standardized test results have been the defining measure of student achievement and school quality under the No Child Left Behind Act. This singular focus has resulted in several unintended and undesirable consequences, including over testing, a narrowing of the curriculum, and a de-emphasis of untested subjects and concepts—the arts, civics, and social and emotional skills, among many others—that are just as important to a student’s development and long-term success.
 
Making decisions about student readiness, teacher performance, and school quality that have far-reaching ramifications should never be based on a single state assessment. Yet, unfortunately, that is where we find ourselves today. Our education system is out of balance and needs to be reset so that testing is merely one component for evaluating progress and not the main driver of student learning and school improvement.
 
Moreover, the promise of the Common Core State Standards in supporting a more well-rounded and whole child approach to education is under threat from this antiquated accountability system. It is a system that neither recognizes nor values each student’s comprehensive development—socially, emotionally, civically, physically, or cognitively.
A whole child education is not antithetical to testing, but a reliance on high-stakes standardized tests to evaluate students, educators, or schools is antithetical to a whole child education. It is also counter to what constitutes good educational practice.
 
We need a pause to replace the current system with a new vision. Policymakers and the public must immediately engage in an open and transparent community decision-making process about the best ways to use test scores and to develop accountability systems that fully support a broader, more accurate definition of college, career, and citizenship readiness that ensures equity and access for all students.
 
 
Executive Director
Louisiana School Boards Association
7912 Summa Avenue
Baton Rouge, LA 70809
 
Phone:   225.769.3191
Fax:       225.769.6108
Email:    srichard@lsba.com

Mercedes Schneider weighs in on the Louisiana FlipBESE movement

The October 24 race to elect eight members of the 11-member Louisiana Board of Elementary & Secondary Education is arguably as important as the gubernatorial election taking place the same date. The life or death of the democratic foundation of our system of public education is at stake.

Researcher, writer, and teacher Dr. Mercedes Schneider weighs in on the candidates lining up for this election in her blog - re-posted here.  I am one of those candidates running in my second attempt to unseat the incumbent in District 1 who is openly in favor of privatization.

My campaign won't be heavily financed by my personal fortune or the special interests intent on using BESE as a vehicle for privatization. I ask for your support in promoting my campaign and by contributing much-needed funding in order to reach all the voters in District 1 with my message. See my campaign website linked above for more information about me.


May 31, 2015 - Dr. Mercedes Schneider

Time for John White’s LDOE Chaos to End—– Let’s FLIP BESE.

On May 30, 2015, blogger Jason France (“Crazycrawfish”) published a post about the chaos surrounding the administration of special education at the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE), including the lack of any qualified individuals running any discrete state-level SPED program– and the illegal spending of federal SPED funds.

LDOE has become educational Ebola, a secretive, licentious font of misappropriation that is supposed to be overseen by the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE)– but is not. Louisiana Superintendent John White is allowed grossly unaccountable free reign under a BESE majority elected in October 2011– a majority specifically positioned to approve of Governor Bobby Jindal’s desire to have White as Louisiana state superintendent.

The 2011 BESE election was “helped along,” so to speak, by out-of-state influence– which led to out-of-state funding for candidates that would support the privatization of Louisiana public education. For example, in March 2013, wrote a post about Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change. In that post, I included email evidence that Bush sent the message to his Chiefs for Change posse to help shape the outcome of the 2011 BESE elections such that John White would be appointed state superintendent as Jindal wished.

Here is an excerpt from my March 2013 post:
How about Chiefs for Change member John White?  Before White was a state superintendent, Jeb Bush used Chiefs for Change to promote this Jindal-selected, former TFAer by influencing the 2011 Louisiana state board of education election in order to “ensure” that the board composition would favor Jindal allies.

The following October 2011 email was part of a public records request by Donald Cohen of In the Public Interest and is from FEE Chief Executive Officer Patricia Levesque to Chiefs for Change members and staff:

Chiefs,
An article on Louisiana state board of education (BESE) races– that will impact selection of the next chief in Louisiana. Gov. Jindal wants John White as next state chief. Governor Bush is lending his support/endorsement to the candidates Gov. Jindal is supporting for the State Board of Ed.
Patricia

Attached to the above email is this Baton Rouge Advocate article regarding the fundraising of the BESE candidates.

Jeb Bush wanted John White as state superintendent in Louisiana. He used his influence to make it happen. As it turns out, the 2011 Louisiana BESE election was a monumental example of the power of reformer money; the education reform candidates raised $2,368,786, compared to the $199,878 raised by the remaining candidates.
Two years later, in March 2015, White now chairs Chiefs for Change.

By October 2011, Jindal wanted White, once a Teach for America (TFA) executive director for Chicago and who had only been Recovery School District (RSD) superintendent for less than six months including summer break, to become Louisiana state superintendent. However, Jindal could not appoint White to the position. He could only recommend. As of 1988, BESE appoints the state superintendent.

BESE also has the power to “exercise budgetary and fiscal control over the educational programs and services at the elementary and secondary (state and federal funds).” As such, BESE form resolutions for the Louisiana legislative auditor to audit any and all LDOE programs.

The state superintendent is supposed to answer to BESE. And there has been a lot for which John White should be answering– and likely all of it is connected to state and/or federal money.

BESE could audit all LDOE contracts– like those between LDOE and inBloom— or between LDOE and Pearson.

It could audit LDOE employees to see if they are qualified to receive payment from specific funding sources earmarked for certain programs.

BESE could require regular and systematic audits of all charter schools. It could review past and current processes for voucher school approval and the state’s system for tracking voucher monies.
BESE could examine all Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests received by LDOE to see which were honored and which were not.

BESE could require individuals employed by LDOE for certain jobs to publicly present information related to their jobs– such a clear presentation and documented evidence on how school performance scores are calculated and how data is regularly and consistently checked for accuracy and completeness.

In short, BESE could throw the doors of LDOE wide open to the public and require any and all audits that John White refuses to conduct.

Now, the beauty of this post is in what is coming:

October 24, 2015, is coming.

That is the date of the next BESE election.

Louisiana parents, teachers, and other community members: If you are tired of feeling helpless as you read about the continued corruption festering behind the closed doors of a runaway LDOE, October 2015 is your chance to fight back.

But you must show up at the polls, and you must be able to smell the corporate-reform-funded rat. That smell will be easier to discern in 2015 than it was in 2011.

BESE has eleven members. Three are appointed by the governor, and eight are elected, one for each of eight BESE districts.

In order to clean up LDOE, a BESE majority of six non-corporate-funded representatives is needed.
“Flipping BESE” in 2015 is a real possibility.

Let us consider where we are now, perched on the edge of June 2015:

District 1 (St. Tammany; part of Jefferson; part of Orleans) currently has James Garvey as its rep. Garvey has voted with the majority of BESE members and therefore has been complicit in allowing White to do as he pleased. Garvey already has $161,800 in campaign funds available, with $158,300 apparently a loan in which Garvey himself is listed as the “lender.”
In 2015, retired teacher Lee Barrios will be running against Garvey. Barrios is regularly attends BESE meetings, frequently sends LDOE public records requests, and it otherwise very active in the affairs of Louisiana public education.

If elected, Lee Barrios will hold John White accountable. She will work to clean up LDOE corruption.
***
District 2 (St. Charles; St. James; St. John; part of Assumption; part of Orleans; part of Jefferson) currently has TFA executive director Kira Orange-Jones, who has already raised $104,500 and had almost $10,000 already on hand, giving her a total of $114,300 as of April 2015.  Orange Jones’ funding includes a total of $10,000 coming from Recovery School District (RSD) New Orleans charter-pusher Leslie Jacobs, her husband Scott Jacobs, and her brother, Stephen Rosenthal, $5000 from James Garvey, and $5000 from known local corporate reform financier, Lane Grigsby. Orange Jones also has a total of $35,000 from four suspiciously-named PACs, all having Baton Rouge PO boxes: East Political Action Committee (BR PO Box 80064); North Political Action Committee (BR PO Box 14538); South Political Action Committee (BR PO Box 14905), and West Political Action Committee (BR PO Box 14091). These PACs are also connected to Grigsby (see Noel Hammatt’s comment in comments section).

Orange Jones has no one running against her yet. She has contributed virtually nothing to BESE discussions. All she has done is support the BESE privatizing push by voting the way of the BESE majority and provide a TFA presence on the state board.

A sign with the message, “I’ll vote the way most of BESE does,” taped on Orange Jones’ chair in her absence could have served her constituency equally as well.

Someone with a genuine interest in public school students needs to come forward to run against this amply-funded, corporate-reform pet rock.
***
District 3 (Iberia; St. Bernard; St. Mary; St. Martin; Plaquemines; Lafourche; Terrebonne; part of Jefferson; part of Iberville; part of Point Coupee; part of St. Landry) currently has St. Martin Superintendent Lottie Beebe as their BESE rep.

Lottie Beebe will be running again. She has consistently stood against the privatizing BESE majority. Be sure to re-elect her.
***
District 4 (Bossier, Caddo, Webster, Desoto, Red River, Bienville, Sabine, Nachitoches, Winn, Vernon) currently has governor-appointed Caddo Parish principal Mary Harris (to finish Walter Lee’s term).

Mary Harris plans to run for the District 4 seat. She has been a positive presence at BESE and is opposed to Common Core. I would vote for her if I were in District 4.

Running against her are Caddo teacher Glynis Johnston and Caddo central office administrator Victor Mainiero. Johnston is anti-Common Core, and Mainiero is pro-Common Core.

My concern here is that the anti-Common Core voters will divide their votes between Harris and Johnston, thus running the risk of a majority electing Mainiero. For this reason, I encourage anti-Common Core voters in District 4 to support Harris.

***
District 5 (Claiborne, Union, Morehouse, West Carroll, East Carroll, Lincoln, Ouachita, Richland, Jackson, Madison, Caldwell, Franklin, Tensas, Grant, Lasalle, Catahoula, Concordia, Rapides, Evangeline) currently has Jay Guillot, an engineer who has contracts with RSD and is often absent from BESE meetings.

Guillot had not filed a campaign finance report related to the October 2015 BESE election. This could mean that he has applied for an extension– or it could mean he is not planning on running.
The District 5 seat is ripe for a representative who genuinely supports Louisiana public education.

***
District 6 (Washington; part of Tangipahoa; Livingston; part of East Baton Rouge; part of Ascension) is currently held by BESE president and chief John White enabler, Chas Roemer.
As is true for Guillot, Roemer had not filed a campaign finance report related to the October 2015 BESE election. This could mean that he has applied for an extension– or it could mean he is not planning on running.

Two candidates are running for District 6: former LDOE data analyst Jason France (“Crazycrawfish”) and Kathy Edmonston, the Parent Resource Facilitator for the Ascension Parish School System.
If Roemer is not running– and if no corporate-reform-shill replaces him in the running– then either electing France or Edmonston would signal positive change.

But my preference is with France. Given his experience with the inner world of LDOE, he would be a valuable resource when it comes to wording BESE resolutions regarding auditing LDOE programs, procedures, and finances. And he has more than proven himself as a relentless and capable investigator.

***
District 7 (Beauregard; Allen; Calcasieu; Jefferson Davis; Acadia; Cameron; Vermillion; part of Lafayette) is currently held by complete sellout, former teacher of the year Holly Boffy. Boffy has currently raised $90,000 toward the October 2015 election. She already had some money left over; minus expenses, her total available as of April 2015 is $105,500.

Boffy has received a total of $37,000 from the same mysterious North-South-East-West Political Action Committees with BR PO boxes as Orange Jones. Boffy also received a total of $20,000 from Lane Grigsby and his family (wife Bobbi, son Todd, and son-in-law Michael Moran) and a total of $7,500 from Leslie Jacobs and her brother Stephen Rosenthal and his wife, Sandra.

Running against Boffy is St. Martinville principal Mike Kreamer.

It is time for Boffy to go. District 7 voters: Vote for Kreamer. 

***
District 8 (Avoyelles; West Feliciana; East Feliciana; West Baton Rouge; part of East Baton Rouge; St. Helena, part of Tangipahoa; part of St, Landry; part of Lafayette; part of Point Coupee; part of Iberville; part of Ascension) is currently held by Carolyn Hill.
Hill has an established record for standing with Lottie Beebe in voting against the BESE majority and trying to hold LDOE accountable to Louisiana taxpayers.
I do not know if anyone is planning to run against Hill.

***
Members-at-large appointed by the governor:
 
I spoke with Jindal appointee Jane Smith, and she said that she would like to be reappointed. Smith has joined with Beebe and Hill to become a force pushing for LDOE accountability.
 
***
It is beyond time for the stories of White/LDOE chaos to stop.
 
Let’s flip BESE in October 2015.
flip BESE 2


_______________________________________________

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has her second book available on pre-order, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, due for publication June 12, 2015.

CC book cover

 
 
 
 
 

DATA Dis and DATA Dat - LDoE Invites More Federal Intervention by Refusing to Release Dis DATA!

June 2, 2015

As of this moment, no ruling or further reporting on the case has been published.

State Superintendent John White has steadfastly stuck to his guns in refusing to submit to the feds the data.  White is a data meister. But he only wants to share with his friends.  He UN-friends anyone he suspects of unraveling his - like Research on Reforms with whom he refused to share the data he quietly turned over (and is still providing) to his friends at CREDO.  

He, along with some other pro-voucher supporters like the Louisiana Black Alliance for Education Options, have perpetuated the myth that the original lawsuit was filed to end vouchers.  The media bought that line hook, line and sinker - which means they didn't bother to actually read the lawsuit. 

The feds were simply doing what no one with similar authority in Louisiana has done - investigate the data that LDoE submits (or doesn't submit) to the public, the state and the feds. White simply refused to give up to the feds the data he is required to submit - the same data he has not, under the guise of privacy, refused to submit to the BESE (for whom he works), Louisiana citizens (by whom he is paid) and to the Legislature (who gave him our taxpayer money and the authority to institute a system of vouchers).

I get that many people don't like the federal government interfering in our education policymaking, and they HAVE.  USED has way overstepped its bounds in coercing/bribing states to sign on to Sec. Duncan's initiatives like Race to the Top, Common Core Standards, faux accountability based on standardized test scores, standardization, standardization, standardization. . . . I characterize that as coercion and bribery while holding the opinion based on research from hundreds of sources that Sec. Duncan is merely a patsy for promoters of market-based reform and privatization of our public schools. Yes, some states were suckered and threatened into compliance, but some, like Louisiana, are fully complicit in sacrifice our public schools, our children and our state sovereignty.  One only has to read the NCLB waivers submitted by Supt. White to see how our schools have been sacrificed at the alter of privatization.  HERE is the last one White submitted. 

The complexity of the "reform" agenda is overwhelming to me.  I have to break things down into their simplistic parts in order to figure them out.  This question is as simple as I can get:  Why do John White and BAEO not want to turn over data about the voucher program to the feds?  Their lawyers' pleas of federal interference are smoke and mirrors.  White and BAEO are deep in it with Sec. Duncan. For that matter, why is the voucher data not available to ANYBODY?  And now, White has evidently agreed to submit the data but is enjoined from doing so while BAEO continues the lawsuit.  What's in it for BAEO? 

Louisiana school voucher program before US appeals court

 
JANET McCONNAUGHEY| Associated Press
 
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal appeals court in New Orleans was set to hear arguments Monday on whether the state must present reports about its school voucher program to the U.S. government.
 
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would hear an appeal by pro-voucher groups who say the Justice Department is trying to stifle the program, which provides tuition to some low- and moderate-income families whose children otherwise would go to low-performing public schools.
 
The Legislature approved the voucher program, supported by Gov. Bobby Jindal, in 2012.
The state has said compiling the reports for federal officials won't hurt the program. But some voucher supporters, represented by the conservative Goldwater Institute's Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, are pressing on with the appeal.
 
In April 2014, a federal judge ruled that the state could be required to provide information about the program in accordance with a 1975 court order and a 1985 consent decree in a desegregation case. That case found that Louisiana had impeded integration and violated federal law by providing books, equipment and transportation to segregated private schools.
 
The federal government can get information including lists of voucher applicants, information on schools in the voucher program, and enrollment and racial breakdowns on public and private schools, U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle ruled.
 
"There is currently no order affecting the State's implementation of the voucher program in any manner," U.S. Justice Department attorneys wrote in their brief. "The sole issue the district court decided ... was whether the United States may obtain information from the State of Louisiana relating to the voucher program in a timely manner."
 
Voucher families and a pro-voucher group called the Louisiana Black Alliance for Educational Options say Judge Lemelle made significant changes to the earlier orders, extending them to a "brand-new remedial education program" without any allegation that it is discriminatory or helps segregated schools.
 
Lemelle's ruling "places a cloud of perpetual uncertainty over the vital educational opportunities the program provides, it marks a major affront to the principles of federalism, and it represents an improper exercise of federal court jurisdiction," their attorneys wrote.
 
Arguments about the program had largely centered on the funding and effectiveness of voucher schools, and whether the program bled away money needed by public schools. Then, in August 2013, the Justice Department filed a motion in the case of Brumfield v. Dodd, the desegregation lawsuit that resulted in the 1975 desegregation order.
 
Justice officials first sought an order to block future vouchers in districts under desegregation orders unless the state first got federal court permission, a move voucher supporters called an attack by the administration of President Barack Obama on vouchers. Justice Department attorneys have since backed away from seeking an injunction but have continued to seek information.

To Be or Not to Be - Will that be the question regarding Charters?

Because I am running for a seat on the Louisiana State Board of Elementary & Secondary Education questions will be asked of me that some people weren't previously interested in asking me. In the typical forum or debate, the participants are given 1-3 minutes to respond. An adept host will pose the question in such a way that a short answer is required or possible - YES or NO.

Getting to solutions to the problems that currently face public education just simply won't be possible in a "short answer" format. Nevertheless, as a candidate who wants to serve on the state's highest policy-making body for public education, it will be incumbent upon me to offer a "short answer" that will at least shed some light on the solutions for which I advocate.

Charters - to be or not to be - is an issue for which many constituents want a short answer. I can almost guarantee a question in debate on the issue will be: Do you oppose (or support) charters? YES or NO

Much like the format of a standardized test where even bubbling in the "correct" answer reveals little about the quality of the test takers' learning, a YES or NO answer to the charter question reveals nothing about the respondent's insight regarding the charter conundrum. It certainly reveals nothing about the solutions that will be needed once a candidate is elected to BESE.

I read this conversation between Dr. Deborah Meier, well know early childhood educator and Joe Nathan, her long time colleague, friend and co-thinker from Minnesota, who is still a charter fan! Joe is the director of the Center for School Change.

Both offer their differing insights on charters and at the end,  I offer mine which is concise but addresses only one small part of the numerous problems I have experienced with charters in Louisiana. YES I have problems with charters being funded as public schools.

I know these won't be my last words on charters as the campaign progresses. If you are a proponent or opponent of funding charters as public schools in Louisiana, please offer some specifics. I promise I will discuss them in a future blog.

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Dr. Meier's concluding statement:
Alas, choice and privatization are being cheered on by the most powerful forces in the country and (yes) allies who get into the highly touted schools they create, while it's tearing apart advocates of public education and public space itself. That's what we need to figure out together--a program that brings advocates for the public space together.
Joe Nathan's concluding statements:
I don't always agree with everyone supporting chartering. Neither do I agree with everyone who has supported other important expansions of opportunity over the last 40 years. Real-world progress comes from developing alliances among people who don't always agree. Chartering is not the only important strategy for improving schools. But it does respect the insights, ideas, and creativity of educators. Indeed, the idea of teacher- led schools is a growing, encouragement development. It's one of the good ideas that has come from chartering. I'll say more about other important strategies later this week.
My response to the conversation:
I am guessing that charters would not have been so widely rejected had they proven themselves first as privately funded open enrollment schools. My guess is they would not be enjoying all the private funding had the agenda been innovative quality education for all students rather than facilitators for private investment profits. Time to acknowledge the realities, not just the aspirations.

Accountability is the Soup du Jour


In Louisiana, our top policymaker and his compliant BESE fall in line with U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan in believing that accountability can only be achieved by threats and punishment using standardized test scores as a measuring tool.  

High stakes standardized testing along with its punitive consequences are NOT improving the delivery of quality instruction in the classroom where learning takes place. Tying accountability to student test scores has simply been a vehicle for takeover and privatization of our public schools.
 
Every teacher knows that can't accurately measure individual student learning with a one-size-fits-all standardized test.  You can only measure how many questions on a single test that a student answered correctly as per the test creator's answer key. Doesn't matter how much the student has learned or how much potential the student has for learning unless he knows the prescribed answers to the limited number of questions on the test.

For those readers not familiar with education pedagogy, you can compare using a standardized test for measure learning with an attempt to measure the circumference of a ball with a yardstick. Its inflexibility and poor design for the task make it inadequate.

Maybe John White would spin this analogy and support his use of the yardstick using the fact that you can measure the circumference of a ball with that yardstick if you use it to measure the diameter, which is a straight line measurement, and then apply a mathematical formula to produce the answer.

But to do that you have to manipulate that yardstick and ball using some method of visual guesstimation - because the yardstick is the only measurement tool you have. Then when you produce the close but inaccurate measurement for the circumference, you reproduce the ball and simply make whatever adjustments necessary till your new ball appears to be the same size as the first. It's a crude analogy but illustrates what JW is doing with student test scores and SPS. And with this, students, teachers and schools are held accountable.
 
But ACCOUNTABILITY is the soup du jour that has been served up to the public and we MUST find a recipe that will make it palatable and nutritious at the same time. There is a recipe, but educators must be able to simplify and demystify the term for public consumption.

We will not escape the limitations put on students and teachers via high stakes standardized testing until we do!