LOUSIANA SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION CHALLENGES GOVERNOR JINDAL AND LEGISLATORS

The Louisiana School Boards Association, Louisiana Association of Educators and Louisiana Federation of Teachers have filed lawsuits to challenge Governor Jindal and the legislature for their allegedly illegal and destructive actions with the sole purpose of privatizing public education in the state of Louisiana.

The petitioners and supporters of the recalls for Governor Jindal, House Speaker Kleckley, Representatives Pearson, Cromer and Garofalo have exercised their right to express their disapproval in a way that is available, accessible and affordable to every voting citizen in the state of Louisiana - RECALL.

It is our hope that all of these actions send a loud, clear message to elected officials that they are accountable to the citizens who elected them. It should also be noted that they were all initiated by or on behalf of qualified, experienced EDUCATORS who have dedicated their lives to a profession that serves an essential democratic purpose for the benefit of every child in our state.

NEWS RELEASE

June 28, 2012

Louisiana School Boards Association
Contact: Bob Hammonds, LSBA Legal Counsel

225-923-3462


BATON ROUGE—A third lawsuit today was filed in state district charging that Gov. Bobby Jindal and the legislature violated the Louisiana Constitution when enacting Act 2 of R.S. 2012.

The action was taken on behalf of more than 30 local school boards working through the Louisiana School Boards Association, according to Robert Hammonds, legal counsel to LSBA and many of the local districts involved.

“All elected officials, including school board members, are required to take an oath of office that pledges to uphold the Constitution and laws of the State,” observed John Smith, president of LSBA and a school board member in St. Charles Parish.

“To the best of our ability, the members of LSBA operate mindful of our oath,” he added. “We have a right to expect that the Governor and members of the Legislature do likewise, and we have both a right and a civic duty to challenge them when we feel that they have failed to do so.”

“The Constitution was approved by the voters of the state”, according to Hammonds, “and, if the state wants to act contrary to its provisions, the Legislature should put before the voters the changes it wants to see. Until those changes are approved by the voters of the state, however, the existing provisions apply and cannot be disregarded by the Governor, the Legislature, or the school boards bringing this action.”

One of those constitutional requirements is that all bills receive majority vote of the membership of both houses to become effective. The vote on the MFP concurrent resolution (SCR 99) in the House of Representatives was 51 in favor, 49 opposed, and 5 not voting. House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, ruled that the resolution had been approved. When he was questioned by other representatives about how it could have passed since it did not get majority vote of the 105 member House of Representatives, he stated that the House had a “long history” of violating the Constitution.

The LSBA-coordinated legal action is mounted against the Act 2 part of Gov. Jindal’s capitalist education reform package. Vouchers, legacy charter schools, and other parts of the reform program included in SCR 99 will siphon from the public school systems the limited dollars received from the state for public education. There has been no increase in state funding of public education for the last four years, despite ever increasing costs to the school systems for state-mandated retirement and group health insurance costs, among other expenditures.

“The lawsuit alleges that Act 2 and SCR 99 violate the Constitution by diverting money to non-public schools when the Constitution mandates the funds be allocated to public elementary and secondary schools to insure a minimum foundation of education in those public schools,” said Hammonds. The suit also alleges that part of the public dollars to be distributed to non-public schools, groups, and programs in Act 2 and SCR 99 comes from locally generated tax revenues. The tax propositions passed by the voters in each local school system call for the funds generated by those measures to be used for the benefit of the students and employees of that system, though, and not for the support of private and parochial schools and their employees.

Gov. Jindal claims that Act 2 gives parents the opportunity to escape failing schools. He has touted the state’s RSD schools as models of educational reform despite the fact that 100 percent of direct-run RSD schools have received grades of “D” or “F” and 79 percent of the RSD charter schools have received grades of “D” or “F”, according to Smith. “It makes no sense – educationally or financially – to take more than $150,000,000 from public school systems in the state to fund state-run and state-supervised programs that are less successful than those operated on the local level.

A preliminary hearing on the LSBA case, which will be consolidated with the cases filed by the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Educators, is expected July 10, Hammonds said. “It is significant that the LSBA, the LFT, and the LAE have similar concerns about Act 2 and SCR 99 and the impact of such legislation on the future of public education in this state. We will be working together to bring those concerns to the attention of the court in the clearest and most concise fashion.”

REPUBLICAN PARTY BULLIES TEACHER PETITIONERS

PRESS RELEASE

RECALL BOBBY JINDAL CAMPAIGN
P. O. Box 12449
Lake Charles, Louisiana 70612-2449

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

DATE: June 26, 2012
Contact: Lee Barrios, Communications/Media Director 985-789-8304



The initiators of several recall campaigns in Calcasieu and St. Tammany Parishes have received intimidating letters purportedly written on behalf of Jason P. Dore, Executive Director of the Republican Party of Louisiana.

The letter, written by an unnamed party who signed on Dore's behalf, demanded the release of "the name, address, and signature of each person that has signed the recall petition." The writer threatened to institute legal proceedings and noted the possibility that "the court may award the requester civil penalties not to exceed one hundred dollars per day" for each day that the petitioner might fail to respond beyond proscribed time limits.

One letter to a St. Tammany petitioner who did respond stated, ". . we will wait until Wednesday, June 27 to pursue legal action on this matter. If you officially resign as Chairman with the Secretary of State by that time, we will not pursue this action against you. However, if you choose to remain chairman of the recall campaign and fail to comply with our public records request, we will have to proceed with the institution of legal proceedings." That petitioner subsequently resigned as Chairman of the Pearson recall.

Calcasieu teachers Angie Bonvillain and Brenda Romero who filed the Jindal and Kleckley petitions, sought legal representation. Thomas A. Filo of Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson, L.L.C., Lake Charles, countered with the legal opinion that his clients were not required to release the records. Filo also cited concern that the request "raises serious constitutional issues under the 1st and 14th Amendments." Bonvillain said they are "ready to take the issue all the way to the State Supreme Court" in order to protect citizens' democratic and constitutional rights to conduct a recall without the fear of threats or reprisals.


For more information:

www.recallbobbyjindal.com

Lee Barrios, 985-789-8304

UPDATE ON GAROFALO RECALL

An update on my previous blog:

REPRESENTATIVE GAROFALO ADDED TO RECALL LIST. http://www.geauxteacher.com/2012/06/representative-raymond-garofalo-added.html

Another recall petition for rep over education
http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/2012/06/25/another-recall-petition-for-rep-over-education/

Posted on June 25, 2012 by Capitol news bureau


A fourth state representative who aligned himself with Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education revamp has become the subject of a recall effort.

Two St. Bernard Parish teachers on Monday filed a recall petition against state Rep. Ray Garofalo, R-Meraux.

Previous efforts have been launched against House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, of Lake Charles, and state Reps. Greg Cromer and Kevin Pearson, both of Slidell. All are Republicans.

Jindal too is a subject of a recall petition organized by teachers opposed to Jindal’s overhaul.

Teachers Peggy Schwarz, of Braithwaite, and Brenda Boleware, of Violet, filed the recall petition with the Secretary of State’s office.

The filing started a six-month time clock in which they have to gather the signatures of about one-third of the voters in Garofalo’s district to prompt a recall election. One-third is about 9,000 registered voters.

Garofalo received 7,153 votes or 53 percent of 13,415 voting – roughly 48 percent of those registered – in the November 2011 runoff to represent the 103rd House District. The 14 precincts of Garofalo’s district are mostly in St. Bernard Parish with small numbers in both Orleans and Plaquemines parishes. About 75 percent of the 27,000 registered voters are white, according to the Louisiana House.

Garofalo on Monday called the recall petition a retaliation from a special interest group.

Schwarz and Boleware failed to return multiple phone calls seeking comment.

A news release issued by the Recall Bobby Jindal Campaign Committee said the teachers were encouraged by fellow educators, family and friends to take action in response to Garofalo’s “non-response to the concerns of his constituency.”

“Rep. Garofalo is not doing the job he was elected to do which is to do which is to represent the interests of the people of his voting district. Despite a bombardment of letters, emails and phone calls from voters in his district opposing legislation harmful to K-12 public education, higher education, and state employees, he has voted against their interests every time,” the news release quoted Schwarz as saying.

Schwarz and Boleware complained that Garofalo would not come outside the State Capitol to talk with St. Bernard educators who had traveled to Baton Rouge during their Easter school break.

“Garofalo is on the record saying that he would support the governor’s agenda 100 percent regardless of the wishes of his constituents,” Boleware noted in the release.

Schwarz also said that some of Garofalo’s constituents are upset because he voted against calling for an attorney general’s investigation into the validity of the 1936 mineral lease contracts of the Win-Or-Lose Corp.

Monday’s petition was the teachers’ second attempt at filing against Garofalo, an attorney and commercial developer and owner of Garofalo Investments. One filed last week was returned by the Secretary of State’s Office because it did not list all the correct parishes in House District 103.


* * * * *

Schwarz and Boleware responded by posting a comment to the newspaper article:


June 25, 2012 at 8:00 pm


From: Schwarz & Boleware:

Sorry – we could not answer the phone this morning b/c we were in an important mtg. at school completely unrelated to this matter. Despite the fact that we are 9 month employees who are not paid to work over summer, like ALL dedicated teachers – we do it anyway.

However, I did call The Advocate as soon as I was able to do so this afternoon. That would have been SOONER if my cell battery wasn’t dead from several long phone calls from Mr. Garofalo this afternoon – apologizing, claiming that he didn’t receive my many correspondences (or anyone else’s??), requesting that I cancel the recall, & meet with him to discuss “my concerns” & see “how much we have in common” now that the legislative session is completely over.

I will try to be more vigilant attending to my phone in the future. One thing is for sure – I will never waste my cell battery on Rep. Garofalo again. Before you criticize us for making a mistake on our initial paperwork, you might consider that the fact that we had to re-submit the paperwork b/c we have NO experience with recalls underscores the fact that we are real people, real teachers who love our students, our colleagues & our community & we are not a SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP!

Really, Mr. Garofalo! Not to worry, though – we are fast learners!

JEFFERSON PARISH SCHOOLS NEEDS YOUR HELP!


Jefferson Parish Schools Need YOUR Help!


Rally on July 2!


On July 2, will the School Board once again make decisions that ignore the voices of parents, teachers, and the community? Or will they listen this time? Make sure your voice is heard!

Join us for a Rally at the School Board Meeting:

Monday, July 2

4:30 pm

Bonnabel High School
2801 Bruin Dr. Kenner


The School Board will be voting on policies that eliminate the ability for teachers to have a voice. This is a problem because the working conditions of our teachers are the learning conditions of our students. We need to stand together and let the board know these conditions must be good for working and learning, and that the best way to make sure of that is to include educators in the process!

Plan to attend and WEAR BLUE! Let's all stand together to support good decisions for our students, our teachers, and our schools.

Share your own concerns by speaking at the meeting. If you are interested, call Emily at 454-5047 or email jeffersonteachers@gmail.com

Stay up to date by liking us on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/standwithjeffersonteachers

COMMUNITY ACTION JULY 4: RECALL BOBBY JINDAL

COMMUNITY ACTION: RECALL BOBBY JINDAL will be on the Capital steps Wednesday, July 4th from 2 - 5 PM.

You are invited to join us with family and friends to help save our state from Jindal and his corporate raiders. Come sign to help return LA to the people.



Learn more about the governor's destruction of public education and transfer of public institutions to corporate friends by linking to our website www.recallbobbyjindal.com.



No "Teague-ing allowed! Learn about your rights as a state employee by linking to articles at

http://occupybr.com/tag/recall-bobby-jindal/
.

Read them all but especially read

"Don't let lil' Bobby scare you:State classified employees' rights".

JONATHAN KOZOL WEBINAR FROM SAVE OUR SCHOOLS

Webinar. “Fire In The Ashes: Keeping Hope Alive” with Jonathan Kozol


Start: June 29, 2012 8:00 pm EST
End:June 29, 2012 9:30 pm EST

Cost:Donations Please
Category:Money Cascade,

Webinars Organizer:Save Our Schools

A Computer Near You, Select a Country:

Visit this page to register for the Webinar: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch.org/



Save Our Schools Webinar

Fire In The Ashes Keeping Hope Alive in Kids and Teachers as We Battle Back Against the Corporate Agenda with Jonathan Kozol

June 29, 2012

8 PM Eastern Daylight Time [EDT}

Please Join Us!





Please Join Us, Jonathan Kozol, and Guest Moderator, Anthony Cody for an all-day Fundraiser and evening Webinar.

Educator, Writer, and Activist Jonathan Kozol will offer his thoughts on The Fire In The Ashes and how we Keep Hope Alive in Kids and Teachers as We Battle Back Against the Corporate Agenda. He will focus on…

(1) The damage done to children by the testing mania.

(2) The damage done to the morale of teachers by a regiment of punitive accountability that judges them by the test scores of their students and gives them no reward for creativity or for awakening the curiosity, originality, and critical capacities of children.

(3) The shameful inequality between rich schools and poor, and the virtually total segregation of black and Hispanic children, which sends a message to those kids that they are outcasts and have little value in the eyes of our society.

Jonathan Kozol

Jonathan Kozol – Esteemed Educator, Writer, Activist
“If you grow up in the South Bronx today or in south-central Los Angeles or Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, you quickly come to understand that you have been set apart and that there’s no will in this society to bring you back into the mainstream. The kids have eyes and they can see, and they have ears and they can hear. Kids notice that no politicians talk about this. Nobody says we’re going to make them less separate and more equal. Nobody says that.”

In 1964 Jonathan Kozol left his comfortable surroundings in Cambridge, Massachusetts to begin work as a teacher in low-income, predominately black Roxbury, first in a freedom school and later in a public elementary school. He grew up in Newton, was educated at Harvard and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford.
His first published nonfiction, Death at an Early Age: The Destruction of the Hearts and Minds of Negro Children in the Boston Public Schools (1967) winner of the National Book Award, drew upon his experiences as a fourth-grade teacher. The practice of immersing himself in the lives of his subjects became the pattern for his subsequent searing studies of the injustices a wealthy society visits upon its most vulnerable members.

You may wish to Join Jonathan as he tours the country to discuss his latest book, Jonathan Kozol Book Tour; The Fire In The Ashes

Anthony Cody

Anthony Cody - – Guest Moderator, Teacher, Writer
Anthony Cody spent 24 years working in Oakland schools, 18 of them as a Science Teacher at a high needs middle school. He is National Board certified, and now leads workshops with teachers focused on Project Based Learning. Cody also served on the Save Our Schools Executive Committee. [2010 – 2011]

With education at a crossroads, he invites you to join him in a dialogue on education and teaching for change and deep learning. reform [Please see Living In Dialogue] For additional information on Cody’s work, visit his Web site, Teachers Lead or follow him on Twitter.



#SOSchat with CapLee June 26, 2012

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Convention Registration



People's Principles Convention
Please Join Us!


Together Let Us Save Our Schools.

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Upcoming Events

June 26, 2012 9:00 pm - June 26, 2012 9:00 pm

#SOSchat with CapLee June 26, 2012


June 29, 2012 8:00 pm - June 29, 2012 9:30 pm

Webinar. “Fire In The Ashes: Keeping Hope Alive” with Jonathan Kozol


July 3, 2012 9:00 pm - July 3, 2012 9:00 pm

#SOSchat Join Jersey Jazzman July 3rd


July 10, 2012 9:00 pm - July 10, 2012 9:00 pm

SOSchat @thechalkface @slekar on July 10th!


August 3, 2012 - August 5, 2012 (All Day)

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GOP EXEC. DIR. JASON DORE INTERESTED IN RECALL PROGRESS

Doesn't the Republican Party led by Executive Director Jason P. Dore believe in the democratic process or the validity of the Louisiana Constitution? Does the GOP party leader support Governor Jindal's attempts to strip the public of its voice? Is Mr. Dore acting at the guidance of his party and the majority of its members, is he acting alone, or is he serving as a mouthpiece for the Governor?

The following is a reproduction of a letter that has been reportedly sent to all recall petitioners. It was sent to me in lieu of an original copy in the mail by one of the petitioners.

Mr. Dore's request cannot be fulfilled because it is not required under the statutes for recall elections, it would be impossible to find and collect all petitions circulated statewide prior to the deadline, and it is the responsibility of the Secretary of State to certify that all signatures are legitimate before they are released to the public.

The Recall Bobby Jindal Campaign wants to remain transparent and follow the laws created for the protection of the public. We realize there may be unscrupulous persons who reproduce petitions and forge names. There are also many people who want to sign the petition but who may not be eligible registered voters. The Recall Committee will not release names or numbers until all are certified and officially reported by the Secretary of State's Office although it is in their purview to do so. They understand that an inflated estimate of numbers might unfairly hurt the political ambitions of the recall subjects.

We want all Louisiana citizens to note that all registered voters are eligible to sign the recall petitions, including government employees. No retribution can be made to anyone signing a petition and it would be unethical and illegal for anyone to carry out any acts of intimidation or threats to signators.

We would hope that Mr. Dore's desire to follow the law and to protect all voters regardless of political affiliation would outwiegh his CURIOSITY!!



LAGOP (Louisiana Republican Party) letterhead


June 15, 2012

(to recall petitioners)

Via U.S. Mail Postage Prepaid


Re: Request for Public Records/Louisiana Public Records Act


Dear (petitioner):


Pursuant to my rights under the Louisiana Public Records Ace (La. R.S. 44:1-41; Article XII, Section 3 of the Louisiana Constitution), I write to request information regarding the Representative Kevin Pearson recall petition. Specifically, I am requesting the following information:

1. The name, address, and signature of each person that has signed the recall petition.

This request reasonably describes identifiable records that are not exempt from disclosure. Therefore, I ask that you please make these documents promptly available in compliance with the Louisiana Public Records Act. La. R.S. 18:1300.5 (B) states: "Upon the signature of the first elector, the recall petition, including the name, address, and signature of each elector who has signed thereon, shall be a public record. The chairman, or the vice chairman when acting as the chairman, shall be the custodian thereof. The petition and the custodian shall be subject to all of the provisions of R.S. 44:31 et seq."

Please notify me is some or all of the records noted above are not available for public view. I also ask that you notify me of any fees associated with my request, including the costs of copying, postage and shipping, before the charges are incurred.

If possible, please email copies of these documents to me at tristan@lagpop.com. If you cannot provide electronic copies, please forward hard copies of these documents to the physical address provided above.

Under the provisions of the Louisiana Public Records Act, failure of a custodian of records to respond within the time limits provided by law can result in the institution of proceedings for the issuance of a writ of mandamus, together with attorney's fees, costs and damages as provided for by law. If the court finds that the custodian unreasonably or arbitrarily failed to respond to the request as required by La. R.S. 44:32 the court may award the requester civil penalties not to exceed one hundred dollars per day, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays, and legal public holidays for each such day of such failure to give notification.

Sincerely,

(Mr. Dore's signature)

Jason P. Dore
Executive Director

JPD/slf

Cc: Louisiana Secretary of State

The following is a link to the Louisiana law regarding recall elections.

http://www.legis.state.la.us/lss/lss.asp?folder=92

REPRESENTATIVE RAYMOND GAROFALO ADDED TO RECALL LIST

PRESS RELEASE
RECALL BOBBY JINDAL CAMPAIGN
P. O. Box 12449
Lake Charles, Louisiana 70612-2449


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DATE: June 25, 2012

Contact: Lee Barrios, Communications/Media Director 985-789-8304
Peggy Schwartz, Petition Chair 504-756-0486


A petition for recall was filed Monday, June 25, with the Secretary of State's office for State Representative Raymond E. Garofalo, Jr. (R) District 103.

St. Bernard parish teachers Peggy Schwarz of Braithwaite and Brenda Boleware of Violet said they were encouraged by fellow educators, family and friends to take action in response to Rep. Garofalo's non-response to the concerns of his constituency.

This recall is endorsed by and supported by the Recall Bobby Jindal Campaign Committee. The Jindal Recall Campaign also supports the recalls of Rep. J. Kevin Pearson (R)-Slidell who represents District 76, Rep. Gregory Cromer (R)-Slidell who represents District 90, and Speaker Chuck Kleckley (R)-Lake Charles who represents District 36. All petitions were filed by educators from their respective districts.

Schwarz reported,
"Rep. Garofalo is not doing the job he was elected to do which is to represent the interests of the people of his voting district. Despite a bombardment of letters, emails and phone calls from voters in his district opposing legislation harmful to K-12 public education, higher education and state employees, he has voted against their interests every time."


The two educators reported that Rep. Garofalo refused to come outside of the state building to speak with many St. Bernard educators who traveled to the state capitol on April 4 during their Easter break. Boleware noted,
"Garofalo is on the record saying that he would support the governor's agenda 100% regardless of the wishes of his constituents."


Schwarz said that complaints from Garofalo's constituency go beyond his support of legislation that reduces funding for St. Bernard Parish public schools and removes local taxpayer control of many decisions affecting the education of their children. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, he voted against HR88 which would request an investigation by the Attorney General of the validity of the 1936 mineral lease contracts of the Win-Or-Lose Corporation to recoup millions that continue going from Louisiana state coffers to millionaires.

Garofalo, whose district covers St. Bernard, Plaqueminees and Orleans Parishes, is a commercial developer and owner of Garofalo Investments.

For more information:

www.recallbobbyjindal.com

Lee Barrios, 985-789-8304

JINDAL SACRIFICES CHILDREN AT HIS ALTAR OF PERSONAL POLITICS

Dr. Ravitch busts up Governor Jindal and his sacrificial destruction of Louisiana's public school system to further his own political agenda.

Just another union busting scheme designed to plummet Jindal to the upper echelons of the ultra conservative, free enterprise, competition-is-the-answer Republican party factions.

His ego and penchant for revenge have gone too far this time though – his own kind are rebelling against him and asking to sign the Recall Bobby Jindal Campaign Petition. Just ask Jeff Crouere, the conservative political radio commentator from New Orleans and former Deputy Chairman and Executive Direcetor of the Louisiana Republican Party who hosts WGSO’s Ringside Politics who said, “If department heads or undersecretaries cannot candidly testify before Senate and House committees without the threat of reprisal from the governor, the hearings become a farce.”

But then as you said Diane when you spoke before the Louisiana School Boards Association Annual Conference, Jindal is no Republican. He has INVITED federal intrusion into state education policymaking. While turning down matching funds for a sorely needed mono-rail line between our two largest urban centers, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, he determinedly forced multiple applications for Race to The Top which he eventually won that required the “transformational” closings of public schools to be replaced with charters and the firings of hundreds of teachers to be replaced with Teach for America personnel. His hand selected wholly unqualified new DOE Superintendent John White as the model for his new legislation that de-professionalizes teachers, and his value-added teacher evaluation bill will seal the deal by ensuring that no teacher gains tenure and every teacher will be the subject of dismissal and loss of certification and livelihood after ONE YEAR of lower than PREDICTED progress by his/her students on our pitifully designed high stakes standardized tests.

Yes, as Louisiana Breaks New Ground, we will be passing out shovels right and left and the “dirt” is already beginning to fly as lawsuits come rolling in. I am afraid the most damage will be done TO OUR CHILDREN as the next few years of progress will be lost in the mire of chaos, teacher turnover, school district bankruptcies and charter dysfunction. And did I say you can voice your opinion by signing a recall petition: www.recallbobbyjindal.com

Diane Ravitch's blog - To access the links Diane provides and to see or add your comments click on the link to the original story

http://dianeravitch.net/2012/06/22/louisiana-breaks-new-ground/


Louisiana Breaks New Ground
June 22, 2012 //


With all the education reforms taking place in Louisiana, it’s clear that Governor Bobby Jindal wants to be a national leader in what is now called the “education reform” movement. Louisiana is leading the nation in the race to the bottom, having adopted every bad idea in ALEC’s catalogue of ways to tear up your public school system.

The Louisiana law was saluted by Indiana’s state superintendent Tony Bennett, head of a group of ultra-conservative state superintendents called Chiefs for Change, who share Jindal’s desire to get rid of public education if at all possible. Bennett said, “These student-centered reforms will completely transform Louisiana and its students,” by introducing a “marketplace of choices.” Part of that “marketplace of choices,” we now know, is letting students take tax dollars away from their public school and pay it to universities, private businesses, individual teachers, tutoring businesses, online companies, or anyone who sets himself up and says he is selling education.

Now we knew about the voucher program and we knew about the vast expansion of charters and for-profit online corporations. And we knew that teachers will be fired if the scores don’t go up in their classes every year.

But here is a new way to “reform” the schools. The state board of education, in its infinite wisdom, decided that teachers in charter schools don’t need to be certified. Understand that certification in Louisiana is not a real high bar to clear. A teacher need have only a college degree, a grade point average of 2.5 out of 4, and pass a national teachers’ exam.

But not for charter teachers! They don’t need certification. State board member Charles Roemer, a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School, insists that charter schools need to be free to “try new approaches.” One new approach is to have uncertified teachers.

But wait, Roemer has an even better idea! According to an article in the local press:

Roemer said the issue of teacher credentials should be left to individual charter schools.

Some who even lack an undergraduate degree could do a good job in the classroom, he said.

Roemer said charter schools should be given flexibility, then be held accountable for how students fare in the classroom.

Roemer knows a good bit about charter schools. His sister Caroline Roemer Shirley is executive director of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools.

Teachers in charter schools, if Mr. Roemer has his way, won’t even need to be college graduates. Now there is an innovation. Just hire anyone who wants to teach, without regard to qualifications, and see if they can raise test scores. Do they need a high school diploma? Why? Why not go for broke and wipe out all credentialism?

This is indeed new ground in the “education reform” movement.

Diane

I HAVE TO STOP READING DIANE RAVITCH'S BLOG: A Re-post

I always check out the comments in response to Diane Ravitch's blogs. One of the respondents posted her own blog which I am re-posting here.


http://oldschoolteach.blogspot.com/2012/06/i-have-to-stop-reading-diane-ravitchs.html


And this is Diane's blog that got so many responses: http://dianeravitch.net/2012/06/18/is-louisiana-the-worst/

I Have to Stop Reading Diane Ravitch's Blog!


My summer vacation began on June 13 and Diane Ravitch has started blogging. What's the connection? Well, every morning when I open my email, there are about 4-7 posts from Diane Ravitch. She doesn't send them to me personally. But, being a person who wants to know what's going on in the realm of education, besides the latest edtech tool, hers is one of the blogs I subscribe to.

Here's the thing though. Every time I open one of her posts, and begin to read, I get angry, frustrated, and outraged at what is happening around this country regarding education! My stomach gets tied up in knots, I shake my head repeatedly, I talk to the "ed reformers" Diane refers to (and I am not saying nice things either),and the word "What?" "What?" spews from my mouth repeatedly!(You should have seen me when I read the one about Bill Gates and the bracelet!)

I love teaching. I love engaging my students, discussing parent involvement, learning about the latest edtech tools, developing cool lesson plans, and all the warm and fuzzy that goes with teaching.

But we, as educators have to wake up to the cold, hard, fact, that education is a-changing, no, it's changed. We can't hide in our classrooms, and pretend that everything is right with the world because it's okay in our classrooms, schools, district, or state.

Do you know how many teachers I talk to that don't have a clue about ed reform, and what it means for ALL teachers? Not just the teachers in New Orleans, New York, Chicago, and Wisconsin, all of us! What affects a group of teachers in one state, will eventually come down the proverbial pike.

Reading Diane's blog, has opened my eyes, even wider, to what's going on in the edusphere. We are being ripped apart. Educators are the bain of existence,we are the cause of all things wrong with education!

Why have educators suddenly been demonized? How did we go from the most respected profession to this? (And not everyone feels this way about us, by the way) Think of the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, but in this case, substitute Kevin Bacon with the word MONEY.

Why have charter schools? Standardized testing? Larger class sizes? Government control of schools? Someone discovered that you can make money off of education. They began yelling to anyone who would listen, "We need to hold teachers accountable!", and here we are now. (Okay, I admit, that's my version of events.)

Educators, we have to stand up. It's not just someone else's problem. We can't turn a blind eye, and pretend we don't see it. And if we are not aware of the problems, then become informed. Do you have to agree with everything you read? Certainly not! But, be informed. Be ready to fight for the rights of others! Do what you can, comment on a post, write to a government official, tweet, sign petitions, make your voice heard!

And as for me, I am going to help where I can, and I am going to continue to read Diane Ravitch's blogs

REMEMBER PAUL VALLAS?

Remember Paul Vallas? - he's the guy who followed up the destruction of our schools by Katrina with further destruction of the entire public school system with hurrican Reform! Well he has finished up with Chile (or was thrown out) and is now collecting a cool million $ to destroy Connecticut schools. Check out what he left in Chile!!!! Are we getting the big picture here yet?


More than 10,000 High School Chilean Students March for 'Free Education' | Common Dreams


http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/06/21-1

* * * * * * *


http://pureparents.org/?p=19376

Father of High-Stakes Testing, Paul Vallas, now opposes them

Reuters reports that former Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Paul Vallas thinks end-of-year assessments are “not useful” and that it’s “a big mistake” to use them for high-stakes purposes.

Well, he needs to apologize to about 125,000 Chicago Public School students who have been flunked because of the high-stakes testing policy he started in 1996 as CPS CEO. And maybe his “education consulting firm” can figure out how those students who were thrown off-track by retention can recoup their educational losses and how taxpayers can recoup the more than $1 billion CPS has wasted over the years with Vallas’s failed student promotion policy. That kind of money would come in pretty handy right now, what with CTU contract negotiations underway.

In fact, Vallas is the Father of High-Stakes Testing. He was the first to flunk huge numbers of students every year based solely on their end-of-year Iowa test scores. You may have read this powerful story by one of the first students to be affected by Vallas’s “ending social promotion” fiasco; we’ve had it posted for a while under the Take Action menu on our home page. Read it again (or for the first time) as you consider Vallas’s apparent change of heart, according to the Reuters story:

Even some advocates of testing are beginning to publicly complain about the system.

Many state assessments are given in March or April, so they capture only what a student has learned in the first two-thirds of the school year. The results often don’t come back until the summer, too late for teachers to use the scores to guide their approach in the classroom.

“They’re not useful,” said Paul Vallas, a veteran superintendent who has helped turn around districts in Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans and is now running the schools in Bridgeport, Connecticut.


Vallas is hardly anti-test: He favors giving abbreviated versions of standardized tests every six weeks, all year, so teachers can monitor student progress and adjust accordingly. But a single high-stakes test? “A big mistake,” Vallas said.

“The assessment systems are not reliable,” he said. “They need to be more sophisticated, more accountable, more fair.”


Meanwhile, back at the ranch, CPS still uses an only slightly modified version of the old Vallas promotion policy. Our December 2010 complaint against the policy has been sitting at the U. S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, apparently just collecting dust, while CPS massages the same failed policy — a handful of changes were made at the May 2012 Board meeting, including dropping poor attendance as a factor and changing a couple of terms.

So, more CPS students will be sent to summer school in a few days and possibly flunked at the end of the summer based on assessments that are “not reliable,” in the words of the Father of High-Stakes Testing.


NYC parents happy – NOLA parents sad

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

It’s a mixed news day for parents. children and schools.

New York City parents are celebrating the resignation of Schools Chancellor Cathie Black and her Deputy, John White. Black, who served less than 100 days, was a bizarre appointment by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who, like Chicago’s mayor, runs the schools. Black’s previous experience was in the publishing world (Hearst Publications, USA Today); she needed a waiver of all education requirements from the state legislature to become chancellor. (Of course, our legislature waived any and all CPS CEOs from such requirements in 1995.)

Black almost immediately alienated NYC parents when she suggested “birth control” as a remedy for overcrowded classrooms. Things went downhill from there.

White’s resume is not much more impressive than Black’s. But… New York’s gain is New Orleans’ loss. White is headed to The Big Easy to replace outgoing (and, from what I hear, already out-gone) Paul Vallas, who has set his sights on Chile next. apparently sparing Haiti, which had originally been in the path of Hurricane Paul. NOLA parents won’t miss Vallas, but aren’t pleased that his replacement was responsible for school closings and expanding charter schools in NYC. This doesn’t bode well for the two-tiered school system in New Orleans, where massive charter expansion is already destroying the neighborhood school system.

We congratulate NYC parents on their successful challenge of one bad school district leader – let’s hope that other mayors (or mayors-elect) are paying attention!

WHATEVER YOU DO, PLEASE DONT' THROW ME IN THE BRIAR PATCH!

Bobby Jindal fails to see that the more people he alienates, intimidates, or fires - the more people we have to sign the recall petition. His mama never told him that you catch more bees with honey.

GOP targets recalls against Jindal, allies




By Marsha Shuler

Capitol news bureau

June 18, 2012

12 Comments


The state Republican Party has started fighting efforts to recall Gov. Bobby Jindal, House Speaker Chuck Kleckley and other legislative allies.

“We have seen what’s happened around the country, including in Wisconsin,” said Jason Doré, the state party’s executive director.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker survived a recall election earlier this month with 53 percent of the vote, after spending more than $63 million.

“We wanted to make sure we got on this early,” Doré said of the recall efforts against Republicans Jindal, Kleckley, of Lake Charles, as well as state Reps. Greg Cromer and Kevin Pearson, both of Slidell.

In addition to television commercials, yard signs and other activities, Doré said the party is making a public records request seeking to have the four active recall efforts to disclose copies of the signed petitions before the deadline. The petition organizers say the state party’s demand amounts to “intimidation.”

In Lake Charles, the party is running “I Stand with Chuck” television commercials produced by the political strategy firm On Message Inc., based in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. Timmy Teepell, Jindal’s chief political adviser and former chief of staff, is a principal in the firm.

“The governor stands ready to help Chuck in any way he needs,” Teepell said.

The recall efforts started in the wake of legislative passage of Jindal initiatives that allow state public school dollars toward students attending private and parochial schools, and a law to make it harder for teachers to earn and retain tenure.

Veteran Calcasieu teachers Angie Bonvillain and Brenda Romero launched petition drives against Jindal and Kleckley, saying the approach undermines public schools instead of helping them get better.

The Louisiana Political Action Committee has been formed as the campaign finance arm of all four recall efforts, said Romero. A hotline number has been established: (337) 263-0688 as well as a website, http://www.recallbobbyjindal.com, which contains downloadable petitions for those interested in any one of the four recall attempts.

Kleckley said he is not concerned. He said he had nothing to do with the Republican Party’s decision to get involved in his case.

“I’m getting phone calls, text messages from friends I have not heard from in years, and offering their assistance and help in any way they can help,” said Kleckley.

He said he has been reaching out to constituents and attending a lot of local events.

The Kleckley recall effort is halfway toward its signature goal to force an election, Bonvillain said at week’s end.

A signup event is scheduled at a park in the speaker’s district.

Under state law, recall petitions must gather roughly one-third of a district’s voters. Recall organizers will need roughly 9,000 signatures to recall Kleckley.

Kleckley’s District 36 is 24 precincts in the southwestern part of Calcasieu Parish. The 44,320 residents counted in the 2012 U.S. Census include 27,347 registered voters, of whom about 87 percent are white and 35 percent are registered Republicans.

Kleckley was elected in 2005 in a special election, but reelected without opposition in 2007 or 2011.

Recall drives have six months to gather sufficient signatures. In the case of Jindal and Kleckley, the signatures are due for verification by elections officials by Sept. 19.

For Jindal, a recall effort would need roughly 957,000 certified signatures from among the state’s 2.87 million registered voters. Jindal was re-elected governor in October 2011, winning 673,239 of 1,023,163 votes cast, according the Secretary of State’s Office.

State GOP leader Doré said the 9,000 signatures required in the House districts is “not insurmountable. … It’s a lot less likely to get statewide for governor.”

Doré has suggested that the recall organizers have not complied with the campaign finance law that he said requires reporting within 45 days of a petition drive’s start.

“They have not shown where their money is coming from. Somebody is paying for all this stuff, but we don’t know who,” Doré said. “We do know when the teachers’ (union) did their rally on the Capitol steps, they announced the recall petition.”

Romero said petition organizers are complying with the law. Their contributions have not been large enough to trigger a report, she said.

“This is strictly grass roots, no union money, no Democratic Party money. ... It’s a lot of word-of-mouth,” Romero said. “We have been talking to the secretary of state’s office and campaign finance people making sure we are adhering to that.”

Organizer Bonvillain said recall efforts are not required to turn over signed petitions until they are officially filed with elections officials. At that point, she said, they become public documents. The Republican Party’s maneuvers indicate concern about recall efforts’ progress, particularly when it comes to Kleckley, she said.

“They are trying to intimidate us. It’s like David and Goliath, and Goliath complaining that David has a slingshot. They are trying to use their influence to intimidate us and everyone else around,” said Bonvillain. “We know what they are doing is wrong. They are taking our education system and handing it over to people who don’t care about education. They care about money and that is wrong.”

Doré said the state GOP would monitor the situation in the other House districts. “We’ll keep it going as long as the teachers continue collecting signatures,” Doré said.

I TOLD YOU SO #1

I have been saying for some time now that if I were a lawyer I would be specializing in Education Law. I would guess that someone is beginning to track the increase in the overall costs of "public education" and the percentage cost attributable to legal fees as a result of the transformational changes that reform is bringing. I'm not sure if that analysis should include criminal as well as civil representation!!!

Because this new IRS scrutiny of charters is a day late and a billion dollars short, it stands to catch many charter operators and their charter management companies with their pants already down. I've decided that after every one of these epiphanous articles I'm going to begin adding when it applies "I told you so!"

A re-post from one of Diane Ravitch's blogs this morning 6/19/2012

A reader sent the following article about IRS scrutiny of the financial management of charters, especially for-profit management companies.

http://www.rothgerber.com/showarticle.aspx?Show=1627



Alert: Increased IRS Scrutiny of Charter Schools Operated by For-Profit Management Companies


Author(s): Eric V. Hall, H. William Mahaffey, Christopher D. Freeman
Published: 06/18/2012

In some cases, charter schools are managed by for-profit entities (referred to in this article as “management companies”). The management agreements documenting these relationships range from agreements to provide general administrative support to agreements to provide virtually every service to be offered by the charter school, including curriculum, payroll, compliance reporting, providing teachers and staff through employee leasing, and the purchase and leasing of facilities.

Many charter schools are intended to be operated as 501(c)(3) public charities. Historically, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) has carefully reviewed other types of charitable organizations operated by management companies to determine whether they qualify as a tax-exempt charities because they are, in fact, operating for the private benefit of the for-profit management company. However, the IRS has not brought a similar focus on this issue to charter schools generally – until now. The IRS is poised to increase its scrutiny of charter school/management company relationships and is now subjecting charter schools to more stringent standards defining such relationships.

Certainly, for those charter schools with management companies that are now seeking or will be seeking tax-exempt status, the level scrutiny of applications for recognition of tax-exempt status will increase.

Charter schools subject to management agreements that are already exempt should be prepared to closely review their management agreements with their counsel to confirm that the management agreement does not violate private inurement and private benefit restrictions applicable to all charitable organizations.

The IRS has thus far refused to disclose the standards and criteria it will employ in reviewing tax exemption applications of charter schools with management companies. It is clear that the IRS’s review of charter school management agreements will become more common and burdensome for both existing and new charter schools, and may require amending management agreements – both with respect to their substantive terms and their pricing.

Background

Charter Schools. Most charter schools are nonprofit charities described in Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3). As nonprofits, charter schools often obtain certain benefits including exemption from federal and state income taxes, property tax, and sales tax. As nonprofits, charter schools also qualify for federal and state educational funding.

Management Companies. Many charter schools have contracts through which the school cedes significant control over school operations to a management company. Generally, these companies are for-profit companies. Typically, a management company assists in establishing the charter school entity and thereafter provides employees, administration and most or all management services. Through its contract, the management company may control all of the public funding provided to the school, and may in fact control all of the charter school operations, staff and activities. In some cases, management companies recruit individuals to serve as charter school board members in their local communities, and enter into agreements with the new school’s board of directors significantly limiting their authority to design and implement charter school programs. In other cases, the charter school’s local founders may establish their own management entity which manages the school, for a fee set forth in the management agreement with the founders or their affiliates. All of these arrangements have the potential to be fair and reasonable, and not affect a charter school’s status. However, these same arrangements can cause the charter school to lose its exempt status, and can expose its board members, as well as the management company, to potential penalties and taxes, if the arrangement demonstrates that the charter school is in fact being operated for the benefit of the management company, or if excessive compensation is being paid to the management company.

The IRS’s Role. The IRS’s Exempt Organizations Division is charged with overseeing all nonprofit organizations and ensuring that in operation, nonprofits abide by federal statutory and regulatory standards. In the charter school context, tax exemption and, likely, public funding, are conditioned upon schools operating within this complex regulatory regime and achieving their exempt purposes.

The Management Company “Problem”

Charter school/management company relationships have long confounded the IRS. The IRS’s principal concern is that a nonprofit entity controlled by a for-profit entity may operate to reduce costs and maximize revenue rather than to maximize the delivery of educational services. The perception of a conflict of interest is unavoidable.

Although the IRS has acknowledged these relationships for many years, it has established no defined or consistent approach in analyzing what relationships are permissible for charter schools. Consequently, many management companies have become aggressive in creating and perpetuating relationships with charter schools. The IRS believes that in egregious instances, management companies have so profoundly taken control of charter schools as to vitiate the public benefit the schools are created to fulfill.

In these egregious instances, “private benefit” or “private inurement” concerns arise.[1] As described above, tax-exempt charter schools must operate exclusively for a public benefit – i.e., the benefit of their students. When a management company’s control of a school is pervasive, and where there is little transparency in regard to the management company’s expenditure of public funds, there exists the potential that the management company could operate the school for its own benefit rather than for the benefit of the school and its students.

For example, a management company having full control over school finances and operations might operate the school in a manner that creates “profit” for the management company resulting from excess funding not spent in operations. Alternatively, such a management company, when determining how to operate, could cause the charter school to further the management company’s interest, rather than the interests of the charter school. Examples of this impermissible “private benefit” could include causing or requiring the charter school to purchase or license educational materials from the management company, rather than acquiring materials in the open marketplace. Another example could be payment of excessive compensation to the management company under a management agreement. In such circumstances, the management company may be operating in its own interests rather than in the best interests of students and the community the school serves.

In such instances, according to provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, Treasury Regulations, prior rulings and jurisprudence, the IRS may penalize the charter school for transgressing the private benefit and/or private inurement prohibitions applicable to all charitable organizations. Further, the management company as a for-profit service provider and, under some circumstances, the charter school’s board members, could also be penalized under a separate set of “intermediate sanction” rules adopted by the Congress to punish individuals and organizations that are overcharging for services rendered to a public charity.

Sanctions for private benefit and/or private inurement transgressions can be severe. Certainly, in an instance in which a substantial private benefit or private inurement arises, the IRS would impose tax and penalties for tax years of the charter school currently open under the applicable statute of limitations.[2] In severe cases, the IRS may also revoke the charter school’s tax exemption. Additional concerns may arise at the state and local level, not to mention the potential for lawsuits filed against the school by members of the community.

While the IRS Implements Its Plan, What Can Charter Schools and Their Boards of Directors Do?

Despite its belief that egregious charter school/management company relationships are prevalent, the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Division, historically, has had no defined or consistent approach in investigating or dealing with these situations. We understand that the IRS has changed course, and is now implementing a plan to deal with charter schools that have contracted with management companies.

We believe that new standards will call for enhanced scrutiny of all charter schools with management company relationships. These strict standards, and the IRS’s enhanced scrutiny, will be imposed on review of all existing and new applications for exemption and will be applied to examine existing relationships.

As the IRS undertakes this effort, the benefit for charter school administrators and boards of directors is that there is time to engage in an internal “audit” to ensure that any management company relationship is appropriate and reasonable. Of the many issues to be aware of and concerned with, it is imperative that charter school administrators and boards of directors understand the following:

•If the IRS enhances its scrutiny as expected, the principal risk is to the charter schools’ tax-exempt status. Therefore, significant risk is borne by the charter schools and the students they serve. Very little risk, at this stage, is borne by management companies. This creates a potential conflict of interest between charter school boards of directors and management companies.

•Any charter school with a management company relationship that is seeking tax exemption should expect heavy scrutiny of its application, including significant additional document and information requests.

•Existing charter schools should expect that any management company contracts will be scrutinized by the IRS. We believe that in the future, such contracts could be subjected to more specific and stringent standards governing terms and provisions of the relationship.

•Boards of directors of charter schools with management company contracts in place should consult with counsel to determine the reasonableness of the terms of the contract and the overall management company relationship with the school.

•Specific board procedures should be adopted and implemented for the annual review and evaluation of management contracts.

•Charter schools already under audit by the IRS should contact competent independent counsel as soon as possible, especially when considering any request by the IRS to extend the statute of limitations applicable to any year under audit. Charter schools should be careful to not utilize or rely on counsel provided by the management companies.

The IRS has not issued precise standards, guidelines or requirements for charter school/management company relationships. However, recent questionnaires issued by the IRS in charter school applications this firm is handling illustrate some of the issues the IRS is considering. The treatment of management companies in other charitable contexts is also relevant. We expect the IRS to pay particular attention to:

•The duration of, and ability to terminate, the contract;

•Pricing (including any contracts where pricing is based on a percentage of charter school revenues);

•The provision of staff through employee leasing arrangements;

•The provision of curriculum services;

•The sale or licensing of educational materials to the charter school; and,

•Arrangements which interfere with the independent governance of the charter school by its board of directors.


It is clear that the IRS is poised to deal with the problems it perceives with charter school management companies. Those charter schools that are now parties to a management agreement should contact counsel to review their current arrangements, and to develop a plan of action for these pending IRS changes.

Rothgerber Johnson & Lyons LLP has a team of attorneys dedicated to serving all aspects of charter school operations, from formation, to tax qualification, to charter school financing, to personnel and operational issues. For additional information contact:

Eric V. Hall 719.386.3005 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 719.386.3005 end_of_the_skype_highlighting ehall@rothgerber.com

Christopher Freeman 303.628.9596 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 303.628.9596 end_of_the_skype_highlightingcfreeman@rothgerber.com

H. William Mahaffey 719.386.2005 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 719.386.2005 end_of_the_skype_highlightingwmahaffey@rothgerber.com




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[1] Although a full analysis of these doctrines is beyond the scope of this article, the private benefit and private inurement doctrines broadly prohibit nonprofit organizations from having any relationship in which the organizations provide more than an incidental benefit to private individuals or entities, or pay amounts to private individuals in excess of fair value for services or property. These issues are extraordinarily complex and subjective, and we recommend that as soon as any concern arises in regard to these subjects, that the charter school board seek assistance from counsel.

[2] We note that in addition to the major issues raised in this brief alert, there are many other complex issues that must be considered in any private benefit or private inurement investigation.

CHARTER ACCOUNTABILITY - AN OXYMORON

I'm re-posting this blog by Dr. Diane Ravitch because the story is an example of the real-life problem with TOO MANY charters. The charter movement - which is simply a movement toward privatization of our public school system - has grown with such zeal and unregulated speed that AUTONOMY, touted as one of the major components of charters that allowed them to be "innovative," has become a negative rather than a positive.

I have sat through too many BESE meetings where charters, mostly new unproven start-ups, have been given rubber stamp approval based on NACSA (National Association of Charter School Authorizers)highly questionable recommendations. Nevermind that a simple google search would inform the public that a great deal of caution should be exercised in relying on this pro-charter organization that is paid so well by LDOE with taxpayer money to pass on the advisability of allowing these companies to be put in charge of the welfare of our children.

The public will now have to exercise even MORE OVERSIGHT since new legislation gives BESE the authority to grant many more authorizing agencies to pop up throughout the state. What a joke that our new unqualified adopted son of Gov. Jindal has been given full control over designing a new ACCOUNTABILITY system for voucher receiving schools when THERE HAS BEEN NO ACCOUNTABILITY EXERCISED to date for the proliferation of charters.

I dedicate this re-post to the journalists who are not doing their jobs as watchdogs for the public. There are many in Louisiana who will end UP with "egg on their faces" as Dr. Ravitch so aptly put it. It is not surprising that a number of them at the Times-Picayune are experiencing the same fate that so many teachers in Jefferson Parish and throughout the nation are experiencing in spite of their willingness to suppress the real story about public education evidently in order to keep their jobs. What does that feel like?



A Major Charter School Scandal

by Diane Ravitch


Over the past few years, the American Indian Charter School in Oakland, California, was celebrated again and again for its achievements.

Journalists, pundits, and television commentators fawned over its founder Ben Chavis. His school (he actually has three schools, but the middle school is the one that gets the plaudits) became the poster school for the charter movement in California and even a national model.

Chavis, said his admirers, had accomplished the impossible. His no-excuses school enrolled poor kids and they got very high test scores. The secret to his success, he claimed and his admirers agreed, was tough rules and harsh discipline.

True, the school has very few American Indian students; true, the largest group is Asian-American. But it was also true that its test scores made it one of the highest performing middle schools in the state, perhaps the highest performing in the state.

Conservative commentators saw the Chavis model as the antidote to the ills of a too-permissive public school system. It was the ultimate vindication of the no-frills, tough-minded approach to schooling. It was proof positive that a school that cracked down on students and teachers could overcome all obstacles to get high test scores, which after all, is the only measure of success these days.

The Los Angeles Times reported in 2009:



Not many schools in California recruit teachers with language like this: "We are looking for hard working people who believe in free market capitalism. . . . Multicultural specialists, ultra liberal zealots and college-tainted oppression liberators need not apply."

That, it turns out, is just the beginning of the ways in which American Indian Public Charter and its two sibling schools spit in the eye of mainstream education. These small, no-frills, independent public schools in the hardscrabble flats of Oakland sometimes seem like creations of television's "Colbert Report." They mock liberal orthodoxy with such zeal that it can seem like a parody.


School administrators take pride in their record of frequently firing teachers they consider to be underperforming. Unions are embraced with the same warmth accorded "self-esteem experts, panhandlers, drug dealers and those snapping turtles who refuse to put forth their best effort," to quote the school's website.

Students, almost all poor, wear uniforms and are subject to disciplinary procedures redolent of military school. One local school district official was horrified to learn that a girl was forced to clean the boys' restroom as punishment.

But, whoa, everything came crashing down this week.

In response to whistle-blower complaints by parents and former teachers, the Oakland school board launched an independent audit of the charter's finances. The audit reported that $3.7 million dollars were wrongly spent on businesses owned by Chavis and his wife. The audit, reported here, was bad news for Chavis' reputation and for all those who hailed the magic of unregulated charters. Wrote the San Francisco Chronicle, "The founder and governing board of three controversial Oakland charter schools could face a criminal investigation into allegations of fraud, misappropriation of funds and other illegal activities outlined in an official audit report released Wednesday."

With full knowledge that the audit was underway and was likely to raise questions about financial mismanagement, the Oakland Unified school board renewed Chavis's charter only two months ago, by a vote of 4-3. The schools' superintendent recommended against renewal, but the board majority decided that the ethical and financial issues of the school's leaders should not prevent the school from getting a renewal, in light of its stellar test scores.

The preliminary findings reported:

-- $350,000 to Chavis' wife, who was paid wages as the school's financial administrator as well as additional fees to her private accounting firm.

-- $355,000 to Chavis for administering a summer school program, one that violated state law by requiring students to attend and pay the charter school $50 for each day missed.

-- $348,000 in payments to companies owned by Chavis for unauthorized construction projects.

None of this was known to the many journalists and pundits who lionized Chavis and his school.

Chavis was interviewed by Jonathan Alter, then at Newsweek, on MSNBC, where Chavis recommended the elimination of school boards. Now we know why. School boards are responsible for oversight and audits. When I looked for the interview, it had been taken down by Youtube (the description remains, but the video was gone). But keep trying, you never know.

In another interview, Chavis said that he preferred the Ku Klux Klan to teachers' unions. Now we know why. It's easier to fire compliant teachers when they have no representation.

NBC, the home of Education Nation, featured the strict discipline of the school. It showed how quickly students were subject to harsh measures and kicked out if they did not conform.

The audit left a lot of journalists with egg on their collective faces.

With so many questions raised about the mismanagement of money, how could anyone trust the schools' test scores?

Diane

IS JINDAL A REAL REPUBLICAN?

Jindal claims to be a Republican but no real Republican would support the idea of a local, state or federal administration removing the ability of the people to exercise (much less express) their will through their elected representatives and thereby LENGTHENING rather than SHORTENING the long arm of government.

I recently openly objected to the application of the term FASCIST that was rapidly becoming a popular description for Jindal and the party he seemed to lead. It seemed too extreme for my tastes(and too broadly inclusive of all members of a political party that includes some very good friends of mine) when one considers the fascism of Italy in 1922. Fascism refers to a system of government characterized by a rigid one-party dictatorship. . . . Jindal seems to be singlehandidly removing that label from the Louisiana Republican party and has repositioned himself as a fullout DICTATOR.

If I were a Republican I would be taking this opportunity for redemption that Jindal has handed them by quickly attempting to restore any credibility and respect they may have lost in cowtowing to the DICTATOR in this legislative session by publicly disassociating myself from him whether it be a plea of mercy, ignorance or repentance. (And I have a few recall petitions you can sign too!)

http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/06/lawmaker_who_opposed_jindal_bu.html

Lawmaker who opposed Jindal budget ousted from leadership

Published: Thursday, June 14, 2012, 9:57 AM Updated: Thursday, June 14, 2012, 12:30 PM

By The Associated Press


BATON ROUGE -- A northwest Louisiana lawmaker who was a vocal critic of Gov. Bobby Jindal's budget proposals has been removed from his leadership position in the Legislature.


Rep. Jim Morris, R-Oil City, left, and Gov. Bobby Jindal

"I don't talk about those issues, those personnel issues. I have no comment," said Kleckley, a Jindal ally who gained his leadership job with the support of the Republican governor.

Morris was among a group of conservative House Republicans who unsuccessfully fought Jindal's plans to use piecemeal funding to balance next year's budget.

The so-called fiscal hawks called it irresponsible to use nearly $270 million in one-time money that is uncertain to appear year after year for ongoing services and programs. Morris repeatedly criticized some of the governor's spending plans as unconstitutional.

A second-term lawmaker who represents parts of Bossier and Caddo parishes, Morris also opposed Jindal's centerpiece education bills, which will make it tougher for a teacher to reach the job protection status called tenure and create a statewide voucher program that will use taxpayer dollars to send children to private schools.

Morris said he was told that he hadn't shown interest in the job or attended chairmen's meetings with Kleckley, assertions Morris said were untrue. The Oil City lawmaker said he attended every committee hearing and more of the chairmen's meetings with the House speaker than several other legislative leaders who have retained their jobs.

"I'm always disappointed to be told, number one, that I'm not interested in something when I drive 300 miles one way to get there, and number two, when it's not the truth," Morris said. "It's either the votes I cast, or they didn't like what I was doing in the committee. Lack of interest is bogus."

Morris said he tried to resign as vice chairman in April, after Kleckley told him he needed Morris' vote on the governor's education bills. But Morris said Kleckley refused his resignation at the time, so Morris was surprised to learn this week that he was stripped of the job.

A spokesman for the governor, Kyle Plotkin, said Jindal's office didn't ask for Morris to be ousted. But Morris said he'd be surprised "if they didn't either make the call or were involved in it."

Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, said a decision hadn't been made yet about Morris' replacement. While he wouldn't comment on his decision, he called Morris a "good friend."

"He has represented his district very well, and I think he will continue to represent his district well, and he'll continue to be my friend," Kleckley said.

Morris wasn't the first lawmaker who bucked Jindal's wishes to be ousted from a leadership job by Kleckley.

In March, the House speaker stripped Rep. Harold Ritchie, D-Bogalusa, of his position as vice chairman of the House Insurance Committee, a day after voting against a tax break bill sought by Jindal.

The measure opposed by Ritchie, which has since been signed into law, will give a dollar-for-dollar state tax rebate to people who donate money to a nonprofit organization that gives out grants or scholarships to private schools.

At the time, Ritchie blamed the loss of his chairmanship on his vote against Jindal's bill, saying Kleckley told him he was disappointed with the vote. Kleckley never said why he removed Ritchie as vice chairman.

Diane Ravitch and The CHICAGO STORY

Yesterday I responded to a campaign AD from President Obama's staff. Today I'm going to forward this post to the same staff member in case he doesn't believe that teachers are being disregarded by Obama's education policy leaders like his friend Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Critics will say this is another example of union thuggery, but those familiar with the treatment of teachers in Chicago and throughout the country, will understand that it is about pulling the rug out from under our children by deprofessionalizing the profession of teaching in the name of reform. In Louisiana, for instance, new legislation allows charter schools to employ 100% NON-certified instructors.

Since the stated goal of the LDOE is to increase the number of charters in the state and taxpayer dollars are being used disproportionately to fund them, it is a foregone conclusion that students will find themselves increasingly taught by unqualified at-will employees.
(See http://www.jppss.k12.la.us/district/news/Blog.aspx?id=2147508029&blogid=2147485652 Supt. White pledges to give Jefferson Parish Public School System $200,000 a year for three years for every new charter they open.)

The results of reform legislation have allowed Jefferson Parish School System Supt. John Meza the ability to fire 15 principals and hundreds of teachers this past week. The excuse was budget deficits by at the same time the JPSS School Board has awarded two new charters and advertised for more applications. (see also: http://www.nola.com/education/index.ssf/2012/05/jefferson_parish_school_offici_12.html

Supporters of "reform" have done a job on the public in convincing them that "effectiveness" trumps "qualifications and experience." And after that sale was made, legislative bodies made sure that "effectiveness" measures were codified that are sure to delegitimize professional credentials.

http://dianeravitch.net/2012/06/13/the-chicago-story-karen-lewis-1-jonah-edelman-0




New post on Diane Ravitch's blog


The Chicago Story: Karen Lewis 1, Jonah Edelman 0


A few days ago, the Chicago Teachers Union voted overwhelmingly to strike.

This wasn't supposed to happen. Just a year ago, Jonah Edelman of Stand for Children boasted at the Aspen Ideas Festival how he had outsmarted the teachers' union. He described how he had shaped legislation not only to cut back teachers' job protections but to prevent the Chicago union from ever striking. He told the nation's elite, 'if it could happen in Illinois, it could happen anywhere." Stand for Children was once a grassroots group but has now become one of the active leaders in the corporate reform campaign to advance privatization and bring teachers to heel.

Speaking to a gathering of the nation's elite at Aspen, Edelman offered a template to beat back public employees in other states. Armed with millions of dollars supplied by wealthy financiers, he hired the top lobbyists in Illinois and won favor with the top politicians. He shaped legislation to use test scores for evaluating teachers, to strip due process rights from teachers, and to assure that teachers lost whatever job protections they had. In his clever and quiet campaign behind the scenes, he even managed to split the state teachers' unions.

His biggest victory consisted of isolating the Chicago Teachers Union and imposing arequirement that it could not strike without the approval of 75% of its members. Edelman gleefully told the assorted corporate reformers, charter sponsors, and equity investors in his audience how he had skillfully outfoxed the teachers, leaving them powerless. He was certain that the CTU would never be able to get a vote of 75% of its members. It would never be possible.

Guess what? Jonah Edelman was wrong. Nearly 90% of the members of CTU voted to authorize a strike to protest Mayor Rahm Emanuel's policies of more work for no more pay, privatization of public education, and increased class sizes. To be exact, 89,73% of the CTU voted to authorize a strike, 1.82% voted "no," and 91.55% of members cast a vote.

Sorry, Jonah. You don't know what mass action means. You have no idea what happens when working people organize and mobilize and stand together against the powerful financiers and politicians that you now represent.

Karen Lewis showed that the teachers of Chicago stand together against mayoral authoritarianism. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has demanded that they teach longer hours without additional pay; he has allowed class sizes to rise; he has dealt contemptuously with teachers; he has made clear his preference for privatization.

There's more of this story yet to unfold, and we will keep watch. But for now,the important lesson is that the teachers of Chicago showed Jonah Edelman that the money gathered from hedge fund managers and other equity financiers can't buy them.

Now the only remaining mystery is how the son of a legendary civil rights leader, Marian Wright Edelman, became an acorn that fell so very far from the tree.

Diane

dianerav | June 13, 2012 at 6:01 am | Categories: Chicago, Education Reform | URL: http://wp.me/p2odLa-kq

PUBLIC RECORDS ACT VS. LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

Earlier today a Facebook friend and teacher posted the following note on my page:

"The element of gifted is listed as a component in the development of my score as a teacher. I emailed the state department to find out how it is used. The person answering my email sent me links to material that mentioned gifted. None of it answered my question as to HOW gifted was factored in. Therefore, I emailed AGAIN with the information that the material they sent had not answered my question. I never did get an answer. Yesterday at a meeting, I was told that gifted would have to make more progress on their scores than other students. . . which makes no sense to me since many are already at the top of the range. . where are they supposed to go? It's very worrisome for me."


For those of you (probably even most teachers) with little knowledge of the provisions of Act 54
http://www.legis.state.la.us/billdata/streamdocument.asp?did=711248
which legislates the use of the new teacher evaluation system called COMPASS, I have included some information below that "explains" how student test scores are used to PREDICT the progress they should make during a school year and upon which PREDICTED progress the teacher is evaluated.

I asked for advice and received this from Tom Aswell author of the blog Louisianavoice.com

Send this to Supt. White (Rene Greer, communications director, resigned last Friday):

Pursuant to the Public Records Act of Louisiana, R.S. 44:1 et seq., I respectfully request the following information:

Then simply type in what record(s) you are requesting.

Below is the public records law:



TITLE 44

PUBLIC RECORDS AND RECORDERS

CHAPTER 1. PUBLIC RECORDS

PART I. SCOPE

§1. General definitions

A.(1) As used in this Chapter, the phrase "public body" means any branch, department, office, agency, board, commission, district, governing authority, political subdivision, or any committee, subcommittee, advisory board, or task force thereof, any other instrumentality of state, parish, or municipal government, including a public or quasi-public nonprofit corporation designated as an entity to perform a governmental or proprietary function, or an affiliate of a housing authority.

(2)(a) All books, records, writings, accounts, letters and letter books, maps, drawings, photographs, cards, tapes, recordings, memoranda, and papers, and all copies, duplicates, photographs, including microfilm, or other reproductions thereof, or any other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, including information contained in electronic data processing equipment, having been used, being in use, or prepared, possessed, or retained for use in the conduct, transaction, or performance of any business, transaction, work, duty, or function which was conducted, transacted, or performed by or under the authority of the constitution or laws of this state, or by or under the authority of any ordinance, regulation, mandate, or order of any public body or concerning the receipt or payment of any money received or paid by or under the authority of the constitution or the laws of this state, are "public records", except as otherwise provided in this Chapter or the Constitution of Louisiana.

(b) Notwithstanding Subparagraph (a), any documentary material of a security feature of a public body's electronic data processing system, information technology system, telecommunications network, or electronic security system, including hardware or software security, password, or security procedure, process, configuration, software, and code is not a "public record".

(3) As used in this Chapter, the word "custodian" means the public official or head of any public body having custody or control of a public record, or a representative specifically authorized by him to respond to requests to inspect any such public records.


The custodian of the records (in this case, White) must produce the records immediately, if available, subject to fines, attorney fees and possible imprisonment. If not available, he must let you know within 72 hours when they will be available.

ACT 54 Teacher Evaluation - an excerpt from the LDOE website.

How Are Value-Added Scores Calculated?

Louisiana’s Value-Added model incorporates students’ information with their test scores to determine the average student growth for children with similar histories. The actual achievement for each student is compared to the average achievement of similar students to determine if a student has made more, less, or a ‘typical’ amount of progress, and the results for all students in a teacher’s assignment are then combined for that teacher. If a teacher’s students make more progress than would be expected, the teacher would receive a positive value-added score; if the collective progress of a teacher’s students is less than expected, he or she would earn a negative value-added score; and if student results are consistent with their prior performance and other similar students, the value-added score would be a zero.

Louisiana’s Value-Added Model uses each student’s test scores in core subjects and compares actual performance to the expected achievement of each student, based on his or her prior achievement history, as well as other individual factors. This means that unlike other methods, the state’s value-added method takes into account whether a teacher’s students have specific challenges outside the teacher’s control when figuring how much the teacher accomplished with the student.

The Value-Added Model considers the following factors when identifying expectations for student growth:
•Available prior achievement data (up to three years);
•Gifted status;
•504 status;
•Attendance;
•Disability status;
•Free and reduced meal eligibility;
•Limited English proficiency;
•Prior discipline history;
•Classroom composition variables;

In order for a student's assessment results to contribute to the value-added assessment of a particular teacher, the student must: have been enrolled in that school from early fall until testing time; have a prior year of standardized test data; take the regular state assessments (LEAP and iLEAP). In addition, the teacher must agree that s/he taught the students, through the roster verification process.

This is an excerpt from a report to be found on the Louisiana Board of Regents website. You can find other reports there by searching for "value added." It describes the complex metric used to determine value-added and the PREDICTED PROGRESS that each student should make. I would like to have Supt. White explain this.

http://regents.louisiana.gov/assets/docs/TeacherPreparation/2010VATechnical082610.pdf

Level 1: Students

Yijk = π0jk + Σ(πpjk)apijk + eijk where Yijk is the achievement of student i in class j at school k in the target subject

π0jk is the mean achievement for classroom j at school k πpjk are the p coefficients that weight the contribution of the student level data in the prediction of Y for p = 1 to the total number of coefficients

apijk are the student level data (prior achievement, demographic variables, and attendance) that predict achievement for p = 1 to the total number of data points
eijk the student level random effect, the deviation of the predicted score of student i in classroom j in school k from the obtained score

Level 2: Classrooms

π0jk = β00k + Σ( βq0k)Xq0jk + r0jk where π0jk is the mean achievement for classroom j at school k

β00k is the mean achievement for school k

βq0k are the q coefficients that weight the weight the relationship between the classroom characteristics and π0jk, q = 1 to the total number of coefficients

Xq0jk are the classroom level data that are used to predict achievement; this is also the location in the model at which codes for recent TPP completers are entered (described below)

r0jk the classroom level random effect, the deviation of classroom jk’s measured classroom mean from its predicted mean

Level 3: Schools

β00k = γ000 + Σ( γs00)Ws00k + u00k where β00k is the mean achievement for school k

γ000 is the grand mean achievement in the target subject

γs00 are the s coefficients that weight the weight the relationship between the school characteristics and β00k for s = 1 to the total number of coefficients

Ws00k are the school level data that are used to predict achievement

u00k the school level random effect, the deviation of school k’s measured classroom mean from its predicted mean

Coefficients for variables retained in the model for each year are scaled to the approximate standard deviation of the educational assessments (iLEAP and LEAP) used in Louisiana: 50. There is general consistency in which variables have been retained in each content area across testing years. The previous year’s achievement for a student in a given content has been the strongest predictor of the current year’s achievement among prior achievement scores. Having a special education diagnosis is a consistent negative predictor of achievement and in some cases (e.g., Mild Mental Retardation), the effect is large. Interested readers are referred to previous reports for descriptions of the base models from 2005-2006 to 2007-2008

The perpetrator of this metric who no longer works for LDOE and therefore is no longer required to explain it is Dr. George Noell (Noell et al., 2007; Noell et al., 2008; Noell et al., 2009) I have not been able to find any of Dr. Noell's research that is associated with this model that has been peer reviewed. Peer review is the gold standard for research. If I am incorrect in this finding, I would invite Dr. Noell to make that information public.

SEEING OUTSIDE THE BOX!!

An article from Colorlines Magazine.

http://www.colorlines.com

Bobby Jindal, Using ALEC Playbook, Radically Reshapes Public Education

by Julianne Hing


Gov. Bobby Jindal has remade the Louisiana public schools system with impressive speed over the past legislative session. Last week, he signed into law a suite of landmark reform bills that will likely change the direction of public education in Louisiana forever. But not all change is good, and critics say both Jindal’s agenda and the strategy to move it come right from the playbook of conservative advocacy group ALEC, in an effort to revive Jindal’s national political profile.

Louisiana is now home to the nation’s most expansive school voucher program. Charter school authorization powers have been broadened. And teacher tenure policies have been radically transformed. Louisiana already had something of a reputation as a radical-reform state, thanks to the post-Katrina educational climate in New Orleans. But not all change is good, and education advocates have deep concerns about the efficacy of Jindal’s overhaul, and the interests that have push it.

“With these laws Gov. Bobby Jindal has sold our kids out for his political aspirations,” said Karran Harper Royal, a Louisiana parent activist and education advocate.

The bills all sprinted through the state legislature. Committee hearings were conducted at a breakneck speed, Democratic lawmakers complained, and members were asked to vote on amendments they didn’t actually understand. When the House took up a bill changing teacher-tenure rules, it ran the session past midnight, refusing to break until they called for a vote.

“There’s just so much more here than what our group can handle,” said Minh Nguyen, executive director of the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans, a community advocacy group. “We don’t even have the capacity to handle all the bills that are being proposed right now and it’s been really challenging to us.”

ALEC’s 2010 “Report Card on American Education” (PDF) suggested that lawmakers overwhelm their opposition in exactly this manner. “Do not simply just introduce one reform in the legislature—build a consensus for reform and introduce a lot,” the report authors told ALEC members.

“Across the country for the past two decades, education reform efforts have popped up in legislatures at different times in different places,” the report authors wrote. “As a result, teachers’ unions have been playing something akin to ‘whack-a- mole’—you know the game—striking down as many education reform efforts as possible. Many times, the unions successfully ‘whack’ the ‘mole,’ i.e., the reform legislation. Sometimes, however, they miss. If all the moles pop up at once, there is no way the person with the mallet can get them all. Introduce comprehensive reform packages.”

One new law Jindal moved in this fashion will make Louisiana among the most aggressive states in the nation for pushing charter schools and publicly funded vouchers for private institutions. It also includes a “parent trigger” provision, where parents whose children are enrolled in a failing school can hand the school over to Louisiana’s Recovery School District if a majority choose to do so. However the key provision expands New Orleans’ current pilot voucher program so that now, students from high-poverty families enrolled in schools that have been rated a C, D or F by the state may move to a private school at the state’s expense.

More than half of Louisiana’s student population, or around 380,000 students, are expected to qualify for the voucher program, according to the Jindal administration. Only 4,000 vouchers will be available in the first year, experts estimate, but the law makes Louisiana’s program the most expansive in the nation.

Jindal’s set of reforms hews closely to the model reform legislation set out by ALEC, which advocates for the privatization of traditionally public services, like health care, prisons and education. ALEC and Jindal’s school agenda is driven by a conservative ideology that believes private markets can help introduce efficiency and healthy competition into public institutions. As ALEC’s education report card in 2010 laid out, “Families need a market for K-12 schools. The market mechanism rewards success, and either improves or eliminates failure.”

ALEC and Jindal have kept close ties for some time now, education watchers in the state say.

“This is really ALEC at work. It’s a feather in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s cap—he has spent a lot of time traveling around the country lining up donor money and now he can say Louisiana is one of the few states that has a large choice environment,” said Royal, who pointed out that many of the key committee members who supported the legislation are ALEC members or have received campaign contributions from groups with ties to ALEC. Indeed, at its annual meeting last August, ALEC recognized Jindal with its coveted Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award for “outstanding public service.”

“It was a huge defeat for us,” said Damekia Morgan, the statewide educational policy and campaign director of Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children.

Public ‘Accountability,’ Private Free-for-All

Critics say the rushed process hampered conversation on the bills. The voucher bill in particular is still light on specifics about implementation. The state has yet to create a plan for evaluating the private schools that take public vouchers. Evaluation wasn’t even mentioned until a vague amendment that calls for “an accountability system for participating students at participating schools” to be hammered out by the state board of education by Aug. 1.

The lack of an accountability plan is telling, says Morgan. The standards that are devised don’t need to come again before the public before they are codified. “This is all supposedly about demanding accountability for public schools and here we’re handing off our students to private schools without any checks,” Royal also said.

In addition, the parent trigger provisions are also too vague, education advocates say. In California, the lack of specificity around that state’s parent trigger law led to protracted court battles when a community first made use of the law.

These sorts of bills have an undeniable appeal for parents, especially poor parents of color who’ve been locked out of decision making circles and feel like their concerns have often gone ignored by public school administrators. Yet education advocates say that these bills provide only the veneer of choice for parents, while removing parents’ avenues for demanding accountability via collective action.

The parent trigger portion of the new Louisiana laws, for instance, allows for public schools to be converted only to charter schools. The laws give parents no avenue for re-triggering a failing charter school, of which there are many. And while lawmakers hope that parents feel empowered by school vouchers, their options for where they can place their children will be limited to the private school options on the table.

“Clearly these options are not full choice for parents,” said Andre Perry, associate director of Loyola University’s New Orleans’ Institute for Quality and Equity in Education. Perry said his concern was that these reforms, while bold, don’t get to the heart of how educational inequity is created in the first place. Instead, what lawmakers are voting for, Perry said, “is a belief in a philosophy that’s being applied in the name of choice.”

“It’s a catch-22 for parents,” said Morgan. “Parents are desperate for change. But as a parent myself, I know that the more money we take away from public education systems to go to private entities, the less control I have over what public education looks like.”

Hijacking Obama’s Agenda

These days, the push to deregulate public education is a popular, bipartisan issue. Many of the states that have passed school reform overhauls in recent years did so to become eligible for the Obama administration’s $4.3 billion competitive grants program Race to the Top.

“Republican governors, shrewdly, jumped all over it and packed on their version of choice,” Perry said. “That’s how you see what we have now, where many different political bedfellows are coming together in a strange way.”

Indeed, Jindal spoke the language of the Obama administration last Wednesday when he touted his reform package as a way to help Louisiana children better compete in the global economy.

“[Louisiana children] are going to be competing with kids not only from Texas, Georgia, and other states, but they’re going to be competing for jobs with kids in China and other countries around the world,” Jindal said. “That is why it is so important we give every child in Louisiana a great education.” It could have been a line out of one of President Obama’s own education speeches.

This is one of the reasons why Perry says the presence of ALEC in the school reform policy arena isn’t reason enough for an outcry. Not only is ALEC not the only conservative group pushing for a free market approach to public education, but “there are pillars of each party that push the agenda.”

“The question is more about: what is so compelling about their arguments that is helping advance their agendas? Again, Jindal has been able to usher this through partly because the traditionally based system has failed in many ways. And that’s just the reality.”