Will BESE Once Again Concede Authority to Supt. White?


The Louisiana Board of Elementary & Secondary education meets Thursday and Friday May5 & 6.  Their policy to assign zeroes to school performance scores for every student who has been opted out by his/her parents will be revisited.

I am posting this letter to the Louisiana Board of Education so the information can be easily shared.

All BESE Members -

Note this paragraph in the attached parent opt out letter from New Jersey.  The ability of BESE to assign a zero to a school performance score for a test that is not taken is just as illegal as assigning a zero to the student whose parents exercise their parental rights over which the school has not authority or control.  

. .....various tests / assessments will be properly scored as a “refusal,” will be considered “invalid,” and will not be included in the participation rate. Any attempt by your school district to otherwise code, score, or deviate from these instructions would constitute a due process violation of governmental procedure. 

The overriding flaw in the use of a single standardized test score for accountability purposes is the application of HIGH STAKES.  This is not only NOT mandated by federal law, the Office of Civil Rights issues caution based on The Joint Standards:


This is a huge civil rights issue and the major imprimatur for the accountability and accessibility requirements of ESEA/NCLB.  It should not be forgotten that civil rights apply to ALL students when it comes to education.  I was advised by representatives of OCR, during their presentation last year the National School Boards Association meeting, that it would be appropriate to file my complaints with their office but that, "Arne Duncan Loves testing!"   I believe Sec. Duncan is being tested himself now.  

This guide is intended to apply to standardized tests that are used as part of decision-making that has high-stakes consequences for individual students and that are addressed in the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (Joint Standards, 1999).3  The Joint Standards, viewed as the primary technical authority on educational test measurement issues, was prepared by a joint committee of the American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education, the three leading organizations in the area of educational test measurement. The Joint Standards was developed and revised by these three organizations through a process that involved the participation of hundreds of testing professionals and thousands of pages of written comments from both professionals and the public. The current edition of the Joint Standards reflects the experience gained from many years of wide use of previous versions of the Joint Standards in the testing community.

When test results are used as part of high-stakes decision-making about student promotion or graduation, students should be given a reasonable number of opportunities to demonstrate mastery,21 and students should have had an adequate opportunity to learn the material being tested.2.   [Because this requirement has not been met for students,  the extension of high stakes consequences cannot be applied/transferred to schools/districts whether or not the student took the test. The moratorium on high stakes for students must also apply to teachers/schools/districts.]
. The Joint Standards states that there should be adequate evidence documenting the relationship among test scores, appropriate instructional programs, and desired student outcomes.23 When evidence about the relationship is limited, the test results should usually be considered in light of other relevant student information.24 [Because many districts have not adopted/purchased/distributed textbooks/instructional materials as per state law, this test cannot be expected to align with any curriculum and is therefore not valid or reliable for high stakes purposes.]. 
BULLETIN 1794 - State Textbook Adoption Policy and Procedure Manual 
Revised September 2009
As indicated in the Joint Standards, it is important that there be evidence that the test adequately covers only the specific or generalized content and skills that students have had an opportunity to learn. 27Educational institutions should have information indicating an alignment among the curriculum, instruction, and material covered on such a test used for high-stakes purposes. To the extent that a test for promotion purposes is being used as a placement device, it should also adhere, as appropriate, to professional standards regarding tests used for placement purposes.28     [Because BESE did not provide a model curriculum - as per its own policy decision in Fall of 2001 - but in fact recommended that local districts each create their own, there can be no evidence that students had an opportunity to learn "specific or generalized CONTENT and SKILLS" to be assessed.] 
http://www.doe.state.la.us/LDE/uploads/4963.pdf

These criteria [measurement validity, attribution of cause, and effectiveness of treatment], based on established professional standards, lead to the following basic principles of appropriate test use for educational decisions:
  • The important thing about a test is not its validity in general, but its validity when used for a specific purpose. Thus, tests that are valid for influencing classroom practice, ?leading? the curriculum, or holding schools accountable are not appropriate for making high-stakes decisions about individual student mastery unless the curriculum, the teaching, and the test(s) are aligned.
  • Tests are not perfect. Test questions are a sample of possible questions that could be asked in a given area. Moreover, a test score is not an exact measure of a student?s knowledge or skills. A student?s score can be expected to vary across different versions of a test ? within a margin of error determined by the reliability of the test ? as a function of the particular sample of questions asked and/or transitory factors, such as the student?s health on the day of the test. Thus, no single test score can be considered a definitive measure of a student?s knowledge.
  • An educational decision that will have a major impact on a test taker should not be made solely or automatically on the basis of a single test score. Other relevant information about the student?s knowledge and skills should also be taken into account. 
  • Neither a test score nor any other kind of information can justify a bad decision. Research shows that students are typically hurt by simple retention and repetition of a grade in school without remedial and other instructional supports. In the absence of effective services for low-performing students, better tests will not lead to better educational outcomes.
National Research Council, High Stakes: Testing for Tracking, Promotion and Graduation, p. 3 (Jay P. Heubert & Robert M. Hauser eds., 1999).

The overall general principle (above) for the use of assessments has been purposefully rejected by BESE and in Louisiana legislation.  Because USED has created programs that necessarily and effectively CAUSE the application of  HIGH STAKES consequences in its "accountability" policies they are complicit in the misapplication of standardized tests. Whether or not Congress promulgated that misapplication in NCLB legislation should be considered in any reauthorization or demise of NCLB.  
Further, the use of these test scores (SOS/DOS/teacher salaries) to make determinations for funding using taxpayer dollars, particularly in light of the creation of letter grades based on contrived, manipulated and fluid mathematical formulae, is a misappropriation of those dollars. 
I recommend BESE clarify the policy for "absent" students that assigns a zero to the SPS by acknowledging that it was poorly written and does not effectively address the purpose for which is was written. I recommend BESE remove the policy as written and clarify that neither schools nor teachers will be punished for students who "absent" themselves from the test.  I recommend that BESE fully acknowledge the legal rights of parents over the welfare and education of their children. I recommend BESE immediately institute a process whereby accountability mandates can be met through a process of CONSTRUCTIVE rather than punitive accountability. 



  1. Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Carr
    xxxx
    xxxx
    xxxx
    November 10, 2014
    Deptford Township School District
    Attention: Paul Spaventa – Interim Superintendent
    Reference: xxxxx and xxxxx Carr – Refusal of all State Standardized Tests
    Dear Mr. Spaventa:
    We have read your response letter, numerous times in fact, and we are a little taken aback by it. We are in no way asking for your permission to REFUSE these standardized tests, assessments, questionnaires and surveys for our children. The Constitution and Supreme Court rulings supersede any authority you think you may have over our decision as taxpaying parents within this district. It is our right as parents to refuse to allow our children to take the state standardized tests because our parental rights are broadly protected by United States Supreme Court decisions (Meyer and Pierce), especially in the area of education. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents possess the “fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing and education of their children” and the Court declared that “the child is not the mere creature of the State: those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” (Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35) The Supreme Court criticized a state legislature for trying to interfere “with the power of parents to control the education of their own.” (Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 402.) In Meyer, the Supreme Court held that the right of parents to raise their children free from unreasonable state interferences is one of the unwritten “liberties” protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (262 U.S. 399).
    Please see additional rulings:
    It is cardinal with us that the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the state can neither supply nor hinder. . . . It is in recognition of this that these decisions have respected the private realm of family life which the state cannot enter.
    – Prince v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 (1944)
    This Court has long recognized that freedom of personal choice in matters of marriage and family life is one of the liberties protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
    – Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur, 414 U.S. 632 (1974)
    In a long line of cases, we have held that, in addition to the specific freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights, the “liberty” specially protected by the Due Process Clause includes the rights . . . to direct the education and upbringing of one’s children.
    The Fourteenth Amendment “forbids the government to infringe … ‘fundamental’ liberty interests of all, no matter what process is provided, unless the infringement is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest.”
    – Washington v. Glucksburg, 521 U.S. 702 (1997)
    The liberty interest at issue in this case-the interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children-is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court.
    In light of this extensive precedent, it cannot now be doubted that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children.
    The problem here is not that the Washington Superior Court intervened, but that when it did so, it gave no special weight at all to Granville’s determination of her daughters’ best interests. More importantly, it appears that the Superior Court applied exactly the opposite presumption.
    The Due Process Clause does not permit a State to infringe on the fundamental right of parents to make childrearing decisions simply because a state judge believes a ‘better’ decision could be made.
    – Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000)
    Furthermore, there is no “federal law” that requires the state or district to “implement” anything you referred to, or you would have included that paperwork as well. The state implemented common core standards and standardized tests voluntarily, to obtain Race to the Top federal funds. Period. It’s bad enough that the Federal Government has resorted to blackmailing the states to receive their own money, we will not allow the District to visit the States’ burden of obligation on our children. Your own paperwork on Title 6A:8-4.1 states that the District “SHALL” administer the tests; it does not say that our children have to TAKE these tests. We understand that neither of our children are of the age to be subjected to the PARCC test yet, but we REFUSE any and all state assessments that are common core aligned, up to and including it and the MAP tests.
    You did not have to make this adversarial; you could have just accepted our refusal as many reasonable districts around the state and country have done. As we’ve stated in our original letter, we have the utmost confidence in the teaching skills of our son’s teachers and their ability to determine and calculate their grades from daily class participation, class work, home work, quizzes and tests. We believe these standardized tests to be developmentally inappropriate and contain questionable and often inaccurate material, and will not subject xxxxx and xxxxx to the inevitable anxiety and stress that children all over the country are feeling.
    We are prepared to go to the media, the ACLU and to obtain legal counsel if you do not comply, and our parental rights or the rights of our children are violated. That includes carrying out the “sit and stare” policy that some districts are enforcing, as this is psychological child abuse and will not be tolerated. We do not expect our children to be retaliated against or treated any differently due to our position on this subject. It is by no fault of their own that they are in this situation. Nor do we expect to have to repeat this every time a standardized test is administered. This refusal should go into both of our children’s files.
    To reiterate: Deptford School District does not have our permission to compel our children to take any state / district standardized test or assessment. Under our guardianship, our minor children will refuse same.In addition, various tests / assessments will be properly scored as a “refusal,” will be considered “invalid,” and will not be included in the participation rate. Any attempt by your school district to otherwise code, score, or deviate from these instructions would constitute a due process violation of governmental procedure. Furthermore, during the administration of any and all make-up tests, my child will continue to receive a free and appropriate public education in his regular classroom environment, alongside the rest of his classmates. You are hereby on notice that any state agent who ignores my parental instruction, and/or who compels, harasses, intimidates, or otherwise forces my minor child, or attempts same, in any way, to participate in any standardized test or assessment, and/or who takes any action that causes my child emotional, psychological, and/or physical harm against these express instructions, will be in violation of federal and state constitutional law, statutory law, and common law.
    I trust there will be no further need for clarification.m
    Sincerely,
    Kevin W. Carr
    Stacy L. Carr
    cc: Mr. David Hespe, Acting Commissioner of the NJDOE
    Ms. xxxxx, President, Deptford BOE
    Mrs. xxxxx, Principal
    Mr. xxxxx, Principal
    Mrs. xxxxx, Teacher
    Mrs. xxxxx, Teacher
    Mrs. xxxxx, Teacher

Louisiana Parent Busts HR5 and Its False Promise of Local Control

First my brief response to Congress  on the impending re-authorization of the FAILED ESEA/NCLB federal legislation with HR5, followed by a more comprehensive analysis posted on Facebook by  Louisiana parent Dominique  Ditoro which she attributes to Indiana parent Erin Tuttle.

I hope the American public is not so naive as to believe that ANY legislation from Congress will return local control. This bill MANDATES that states not require highly qualified teachers in our classroom. This bill MANDATES that states allow public education dollars to flow to private and parochial schools. This bill MANDATES that public taxpayer dollars be allowed to go to private business. This bill perpetuates the myth that transparency and accountability are more than just words on paper. Please vote NO for this bill or be prepared, along with every other Congressman to explain why you supported this initiative to destroy a system of public education that serves every child! Bait and switch politics cannot be allowed to undermine a system of education that holds the promise of our Constitution to maintain a representative republic or democracy for us all.

Local Control?  I think NOT!  

**********

1. HR 5 WILL NOT RESTORE STATE SOVEREIGNTY OVER PUBLIC EDUCATION
(Subpart 4, section 6561) It states that the Secretary of Education can't enforce any requirements under the program that would violate states' rights unless the state legislature gives 
its consent to participate in the ESEA, which encompasses around $25 billion dollars in aid to states. 

Essentially, participating in the program to receive funds requires states to waive their state's rights if they conflict with any requirements of the program. This is the same type of financial coercion seen with Race to the Top grants and NCLB waivers.

"[The US Department of Education may not violate states' rights] unless the legislature of that State shall have by laws expressly approved that program and, in doing so, have waived the State's rights and authoritties to act inconsistently with any requirement that might be imposed by the secretary as a condition of receiving that assistance."

HR5 fails to “expand options” for the states but instead ensures only one outcome; that which is favorable to the federal government, through the Secretary of Education, just like Obamacare, and that failure is of major consideration under the spending clause and it goes far beyond its predecessors. This is a big red flag to those that understand the historical danger to a provision that “waives the State’s right and authorities to act inconsistently with any requirement that might be imposed by the Secretary as a condition of receiving that assistance. Further and no less important, parts (a) and (b) make HR5 on its face a clear violation of due process requirements and the spending clause, as written and long interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court, in addition to other aspects of the bill.  

How can a state be required to waive its right to act within the bounds of a very encompassing law and the remaining portions of its predecessors? A state cannot waive its right to something that “might be imposed.” Every aspect of education is covered in accepting the federal funds under HR5, so what is left for a state to control in education that is not under federal review/scrutiny/mandate? One should also carefully consider all the rules and regulations that will flow in the future, further entrenching the states into a vicious cycle that they will never escape and that will lead to LESS state sovereignty NOT more!


2. THE SECRETARY OF EDUCATION WILL HAVE UNPRECEDENTED AUTHORITY
(p. 42, line 9) "The Secretary shall approve a State plan..."
(p. 42, line 12) the Secretary shall "disapprove a State plan ... if the Secretary demonstrates how the State plan fails to meet requirements..."

The Secretary of Education (Arne Duncan) is the ultimate arbiter as to the state education plans relative to the “pillars” in education; standards, assessments, accountability, etc. Therefore the very likely effect will be that state education policies nationwide will be molded in an image that meets with the Secretary’s approval. There is a supposed limitation in place that includes a requirement for him to "demonstrate" how a plan fails to meet a requirement. However, this is completely subjective. As a result, the limitation is meaningless. The bottom line is that he ultimately has the final say. 

SSA may give the appearance of restricting the authority of the Secretary, but it most certainly will have the opposite effect. One of the most disturbing problems of the bill is that the prohibitions placed on the authority of the Secretary are meaningless, as there is no enforcement mechanism or accompanying penalty for violating the listed prohibitions. Proponents of this bill can state that there are limitations on the Secretary put into place with this bill and promote it in that manner, but fail to mention or address the absence of the ability to enforce these limitations and its effect.


3. THE SECRETARY OF EDUCATION ONLY HAS TO GIVE NOTICE TO CONGRESS OF REGULATIONS
On page 16, it states "If the Secretary determines that a negotiated rulemaking process is unnecessary or the individuals...fail to reach unanimous agreement, the Secretar
y may propose regulations ... 30 days after giving notice of the proposed rule to Congress, the Secretary may proceed with the rulemaking process..."


In providing the Secretary of Education with legal discretion over the rulemaking process, this provision is absolution by law for the Secretary of Education to violate constitutional due process protections as set forth under the Administrative Procedures Act, which cannot be done because due process is required by the Constitution; and the attempted replacement of notice and comment for rulemaking with congressional notice is also a violation of due process, because congressional notice is not congressional approval. 

Simply put, the Secretary of Education proposes a regulation, notifies Congress, allows a comment period, and then makes it an official regulation. There is no mechanism for Congress or stakeholders to intervene other than providing a comment during the allowed comment period.

4. HR5 DOES NOT ELIMINATE 69 FEDERAL PROGRAMS AS IT CLAIMS
The Student Success Act does not eliminate 69 programs; it consolidates them. Considering that funding for ESEA programs remains the same, it seems naïve to believe funding would not automatically be less, if 69 programs were actually to be cut. 

The Local Academic Flexible Grant (a block grant) does not give states the needed flexibility to spend tax dollars based on the needs of the “unique” student populations. It only allows states to commingle the funds between Title 1 programs and requires states to spend the funds in accordance with the federal parameters established for those programs consolidated under the HR5.

5. HR5 DOES NOT CUT SPENDING

While freezing spending on ESEA is a welcome step, HR5 does not decrease spending and consolidates programs versus cutting them (an action that would go toward removing the rotten apple 

that has become NCLB). Additionally,Congress has never appropriated the full amount authorized for ESEA so to claim that it decreases spending is not an accurate statement because the amount actually spent never reflected the full amount authorized anyway. 

6. HR5 DOES NOT PROTECT PRIVACY

FERPA was effectively “gutted” by the Secretary of Education in December 2011 undermining the Congressional intent of the law, as it no longer protects privacy. It has opened door for third party sharing of children’s information without the consent of parents. So any reference in HR5 of privacy protection that must comply with FERPA is meaningless (p. 479-480).

In light of the backlash from the Common Core State Standards Initiative that relies on massive data collection, FERPA should have been restored BEFORE any reauthorization of NCLB. Typical of Washington, proposing HR5 before addressing FERPA is no different than refusing to make any real efforts to close the border before addressing amnesty.

7. HR 5 CREATES A NATIONAL SCHOOL BOARD

(p. 41, line 19) "...the Secretary shall establish a peer-review process to assist in the review of State plans...and appoint individuals ...who are representatiave of parents, teachers, State educational agencies, local educational agencies, and private sector employees (including representatives of entrepeneurial ventures)..
The peer review teams created through regulation in HR5 will not just be a "de facto National School Board run by the federal government," but will definitely be a National School Board codified into federal law. The Secretary alone appoints the individuals who with his final authority will oversee the 

plans that States are required to submit to the Secretary. That is how one creates a National School 
Board.

8. HR 5 DOES NOT ALLOW STATES TO GET OUT OF COMMON CORE

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE. “The purpose of this title is to provide all children the opportunity to graduate high school prepared for postsecondary education or the workforce.”


While this language may seem innocuous to the average reader, those familiar with the language used in applications for NCLB waivers and Race to the Top grants to enforce Common Core understand these words require alignment of standards and assessments to the Common Core, which is the established nationwide expectation of what is expected to be prepared for postsecondary institutions, or college-and-career-ready.

Also, any attempt in this bill through prohibitions or limitations to prevent the Secretary of Education or the peer review teams from requiring the use of Common Core State Standards or any other standards is meaningless. As stated before, there are no enforcement mechanisms or penalties anywhere in this bill. The obvious absence of these is a strong indicator of the intent of this bill.

9. FEDERAL TAKEOVER OF PARENTAL RIGHTS
By tying inalienable parental rights to the receipt of funds and federal “obligations,” HR5 claims the authority to take parental rights away under the conditions it defines.
SEC. 6564. INTENT OF CONGRESS.

‘‘Other than the terms and conditions expressly approved by State law under the terms of this sub 

part, control over public education and parental rights to control the education of their children are vested exclusively within the autonomous zone of independent authority reserved to the States and
individual Americans by the United States Constitution, other than the Federal Government’s undiminishable obligation to enforce minimum Federal standards of equal protection and due process."
Even in the statement of purpose on page 11, the bill minimizes parents and maximizes itself, by “affording parents substantial and meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children”.

10. FEDERAL OVERREACH INTO PRIVATE AND RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS
There are over 12 pages devoted to private schools in this bill. On pages 78-82, it mandates that private schools: “ensure that teachers and families of the children participate, on an equitable basis, in services and activities… SECULAR, NEUTRAL, NONIDEOLOGICAL.— Such educational services or other benefits, including materials and equipment, shall be secular, neutral and nonideological.”


Private schools are just that - private. Our federal government has no right to require private Catholic, Baptist, Mormon, or Jewish schools to offer services that are non-religious and secular.



#OptOutLouisiana





Rather than trying to transfer responsibility and guilt to parents for the punitive consequences of opting out of PARCC testing, school board members,  principals and district administrators should be collaborating to stand up to our Highly UNqualified State Superintendent who is using high stakes testing as a weapon to push forward privatization of our public schools.  


#OptOutLouisiana

PARCC, Parents And The Ides of March

An increasing number of parents in Louisiana have decided that the only voice they have with our State Superintendent John White and his compliant Board of Education is in the form of a letter stating their children will not be taking the mysterious PARCC test scheduled for, ironically, the Ides of March.  

Because BESE has no "Opt Out Policy," and BESE President Chas Roemer has refused to call an emergency meeting to address the problem, schools and school districts are scrambling to create their own policies, after the fact. This is what John White refers to as " local control." 

Parents, on the other hand, continue to organize meetings throughout the state, with public officials invited to attend, to determine the least disruptive method to accomplish this in the best interests of their children.   

Parents's efforts have been met with intimidation and warnings and refusals in some instances. That is the way our Department of  Education rolls. Supt. White, by his own admission in public testimony,  believes that holding the threat of state takeover or forced charter transformation will achieve education "equity and excellence."  I believe he knows better and that his efforts are a major strategy to bring about privatization of our public school system.  

 Supt. White declared a moratorium on the high stakes application of student test scores for teacher evaluation and student progression last year and this year. He received an accountability waiver from USEd in December that confirms this "promise" and that also assures the continued intrusion and oversight  by USEd into what should be a locally controlled system of PUBLIC schools.  

The major sticking point in the opt out movement has been a state policy provision that threatens to assign a zero in the school performance score calculation for every student who does not test. The only purpose for this provision is to maintain state level control and the philosophy that threats will bring about compliance.  

Several districts have previously made clear their disdain for Common Core's implementation via school board generated resolutions to BESE.  This week, several boards filed resolutions stating their opposition to the implementation of PARCC and joining the request for BESE to call a special meeting. Thus far no response from BESE. 

This is a sample letter that parents are circulating for parents to officially refuse PARCC testing.  Parents aren't planning to make a surprise attack.  Their interest is in reducing the stress their children are experiencing over these tests.  They believe the controversy over the assignment of zeros to SPS is a problem their elected school boards and district superintendents should be addressing with BESE rather than using their children as pawns to bring about compliance and to perpetuate the scam of school performance scores. 


This is a letter created by the Calcasieu school district that administration is "requiring" parents to sign if they refuse the test.  It is not only intimidating and confusing to parents, in my estimation it invites a legal challenge if they persist in their demands. 

A well known blogger who calls herself Edushyster, published this satirical yet accurate rendition of similar events in her state of  Massachusetts. (scroll down when you open it) I would like to offer it to our local and state officials as a "teaching moment."

edu.shy·ster ej-oo/ˈshīstər/ n.

From the Urban Dictionary: Someone greedy, of questionable honesty. A crook or con artist. As in: "You're not getting a penny from me, you @#$% shyster."The edushyster seeks to profit off of public schools and their students and is almost always aided by state and local politicians who find the shyster's faddish jargon irresistible.


Parents R Dumb

How not to respond to an opt-out request...
Dear education official: when a parent informs you that their child(s) will not be participating in a standardized-test related activity, is the appropriate response to A: inform the parent that such is his or her right under Massachusetts' ever *evolving* position on said right (or lack thereof); B: treat the opportunity as a *teachable moment* and *drill down* into the amount of testing currently mandated by the district in question; C: mock said parents in assorted correspondence with other education officials; or D: hope that said parents don't file a public records request and pass said mocking correspondence onto a blogger...

Teachable moment
Our story begins last year, when Massachusetts' education officials issued a series of confusingly conflicted directives regarding whether parents here have the right to *opt-out* of the statewide tests, including a fresh new test meant to test college and career readiness. Breaking: they don't. No wait—the official state position is that while no such right 
exists, school leaders may see to it that the *lil refuseniks* are afforded an alternate educational activity as long as they don't distract the other test takers from their test taking. No wait, wait: left unresolved by this un-resolution was the question of whether parents may also refuse the practice tests that students in a growing number of districts take to practice practicing for the real test. 

Malcolm in the Middle
The main characters in today's tale reside in one of the Bay State's most *data-driven* districts. In fact we recently encountered them as they said *thanks, but no thanks* to what they say is an obsessive fixation on assessments in the Salem, MA public schools. The parents, citing the state's *you can't, but then again you can* position on parent opt-out rights, argued that their kids should be able to refuse, not just the main event test, but the practice tests that eat up an increasing amount of time in data-driven districts. In other words, who do they think they are???

Warning: contains FOIA'd documents and a great deal of disdain
Read more.












Four BESE Members Denied Special Meeting By Chairman Roemer

Louisiana parents are opting out of the Louisiana Common Core test which our Superintendent John White is identifying as PARCC.  However, it is not coming from Pearson. White will not respond to my public information request asking for documentation and correspondence relating to the acquisition of the PARCC test through Data Recognition Corporation.

Four Board of Elementary and Secondary Education members requested an emergency meeting to determine what the consequences will be for schools where students refuse the test.  According to BESE policy, schools will have a zero for every opt out included in the calculation for school performance scores.

Here is the unfair and misleading formula for elementary schools:  


ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

Elementary and middle schools earn points for student achievement on annual assessments in English language arts, math, science and social studies. Total points are divided by the total number of tests to calculate the School Performance Score. In elementary school, these points comprise 100% of the school grade. In schools with an 8th grade, these points comprise 95% of the school grade. Schools may also earn points for significant improvement with students who are academically behind. 
Student Achievement Score
Points Per Student
Advanced150
Mastery125
Basic100
Approaching Basic0
Unsatisfactory0
NOTE:  English language arts and math scores are weighted double in calculations for school performance scores. Schools may earn points for students scoring Approaching Basic or Unsatisfactory in the prior year through progress points(see definition below).





Dear Louisiana Citizens and Education Stakeholders

     As members of the State Board of Education (BESE, the “Board of Elementary and Secondary Education”), we have requested a special meeting of BESE to address the concerns of school districts being punished for students who choose to opt out of PARCC testing. Unfortunately, our request was denied by BESE President, Chas Roemer. (Six BESE members must agree to a special meeting.)  

An item has been added to the March BESE agenda; however, we believe the concerns are too significant to delay until March.  There are OPT-Out meetings currently being scheduled in communities across our state. 

     We have received numerous emails and phone calls from parents and educators seeking information regarding an opt- out of testing option.  Many of the questions asked are valid; yet, school officials, including BESE members, don’t have responses.  Education in Louisiana is in a state of confusion.  

Parents  have expressed their concerns and intentions to opt their children out of PARCC testing this spring.  Schools MUST not be penalized for a variable they can't control.  There is a solution to this AND BESE can provide the solution.  School districts and schools should not be assigned punitive consequences: zeros in 2014-2015 for students choosing not to participate in PARCC tests. There should be a suspension of letter grades due to the untimely guidance and changes to the assessment guides and the release of practice test items that were received as late as the end of January, 2015.  The “build the plane as you fly it” sentiment continues with educators not truly knowing “the destination.”  Because this is the first administration of the PARCC assessment in Louisiana, many school officials, educators, and parents have valid fears, particularly, when it is a known fact that there was a 70% failure rate in New York.

Why would we disenfranchise our parents, teachers and administrators by saying "No" to a special meeting? We urge you to join with us to encourage BESE to  approve a special meeting.  Why would a Board refuse to call a meeting to address these concerns?  

If you haven't contacted your BESE member, you should do so immediately.  
Your voice will make the difference

Sincerely,

Lottie P. Beebe, Ed. D., District 3 BESE Member
Mary Harris, District 4 BESE Member
Carolyn Hill, District 8 BESE Member
Jane SmithMember At LargeCaddo Parish

Would an Investigation of RSD Reveal Similar Charter Corruption?

I had to repost this article from Chicago Magazine. An excellent piece of investigative journalism that needs to come to Louisiana.  How easily the urban Hispanic and African American communities have fallen under the spell of charters. They chase the promises while the politicians and their corporate financiers chase the $$$$$.

Note the connection between Paul Vallas, Arne Duncan and Rahm Emanuel.


http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/February-2014/uno-juan-rangel/


UNO
Five weeks before he abruptly resigned from the top job at the United Neighborhood Organization, Juan Rangel met me for an interview. He picked the day (Halloween) and the spot (UNO’s Soccer Academy High).
It was easy to see why Rangel wanted to meet at the new high school. Designed by Colombian-born architect Juan Gabriel Moreno and unveiled the month before, the building had been plopped like a futuristic glass-and-steel spaceship onto an otherwise unremarkable industrial stretch of 51st Street. Lush green fields surrounded it, marked off for student soccer games. Inside, only a few students sported Halloween costumes. Most were dressed head to toe in crisp five-piece uniforms, topped off with navy blazers and ties.