I'm don't know how to transfer this blog in its entirety and form to my own blogspot so I'll just give you the URL. This poem written by Jesser Turner, a Steering Committee Member of Save Our Schools March, says it all.



19 year-old student Zach Kopplin started this petition. Check it out. Zack testified Tuesday before the BESE board and offered research indicating that at least 20 of the approved voucher receiving parochial schools have replaced approved state science curriculum with creationism supported texts - thus making them ineligible under John White's own criteria for voucher approval.

For further discussion about this issue see Diane Ravitch's blog and the comments that follow:


Published on Center for Media and Democracy (

Home > Legislators Solicit Corporate Cash to Attend ALEC Utah Meeting



by Sara Jerving [1] — July 24, 2012 - 7:31am

A letter from a Louisiana state representative asking a corporate representative for money is another example of the American Legislative Exchange Council [5] (ALEC) "scholarship" program at work, and how it creates an overly cozy relationship between corporations and legislators that allows for improper influence. The "scholarship" program has allowed corporations to do what lobbying laws in most states prohibit -- give legislators expensive gifts of flights through ALEC which can buy increased influence over public policy.

The Louisiana Tri-Parish Times revealed [6] that Republican Rep. Joe Harrison, the ALEC Public Sector State Chair for Louisiana, sent out letters [7], on state letterhead, asking corporations for $1,000 donations to send "over thirty Louisiana legislators" to the ALEC conference being held July 25-28 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Topics under discussion would be important "to the entire lobbying community" said Harrison and he asked that the funds be sent to his state office.

Through ALEC "scholarships," corporations can funnel gifts to ALEC politicians in the form of flights, hotel rooms, and other perks so they can attend ALEC conferences, which are often held at fancy resorts and look a lot like a vacation. Once at the conference, corporations and legislators vote as equals to approve ALEC "model" bills which in many cases benefit the same corporations that funded the legislators' travel costs. ALEC politicians then bring those bills back to their state and introduce them in their own name, in many cases without revealing to the public that corporations had pre-voted on the bills and without disclosing that those same corporations had given the legislators gifts of flights and hotel rooms -- which some might call a bribe.

The $1,000 corporate donations solicited by Harrison will allow public servants in his state to fly to Utah and stay at Salt Lake City's swanky Grand American Hotel [8] and indulge in a host of other events set up by corporate sponsors at the conference, such as a shooting event [9] hosted by the National Rifle Association. Louisiana legislators make only $16,800 per year [10] (and they get only $6,000 per year in expense allowance), so for many Louisiana politicians the trip would otherwise be unaffordable.

As CMD has reported [11]:

In most states, ethics laws prohibit companies or organizations with an interest in the outcome of legislation from offering gifts above a certain value to legislators (or their families). Additionally, lobby laws in many states prohibit corporations that employ lobbyists from offering anything of significant value to elected officials. ALEC member corporations covering hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of plane tickets for lawmakers and hotels for them and their families raises serious concerns about such gifts under many states' ethics and lobbying laws. But by calling this spending a "scholarship" and filtering it through a bank account designated as the "ALEC scholarship fund," corporations have, so far, been maneuvering around laws designed to limit improper influence.

"The Definition of a Bribe?"

Watchdog groups like the Center for Media and Democracy, DBA Press, Common Cause, People for the American Way, Progress Now, and others have compiled a mounting list of evidence to argue that these gifts constitute improper influence over legislators.

For example, open records requests submitted by DBA Press have revealed [12] long lists of corporate donors to the Ohio ALEC scholarship fund, such as $1,000 from an Eli Lilly lobbyist and $10,000 from a Time Warner Cable lobbyist. And an examination of IRS filings show the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) reporting [13] a whopping $365,075 contribution to the Wisconsin ALEC scholarship fund.

In March, CMD filed a complaint [14] with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board alleging the scholarship scheme violates the state's ethics and lobbying laws. In the complaint, CMD argued, "It makes little sense to prohibit corporate principles and lobbyists from offering anything of value to public officials, but to allow such giving if it is filtered through a segregated ALEC 'scholarship fund.'" ALEC claimed only a couple thousand from PhRMA went to fund Wisconsin legislative travel and the rest was for legislators in other states.

This month, the former chief of the IRS' nonprofit division, Marcus Owens, filed a complaint with the IRS on behalf of Clergy VOICE, a group of Christian ministers in Ohio, alleging that ALEC is violating the terms of its charitable status and intentionally misleading the IRS, in part because of the scholarship scheme.

As CMD reported, [15] Owens and Clergy VOICE alleged that the gifts of flights and hotel rooms provide a "private benefit" to state legislators, in violation of ALEC's 501(c)(3) status, and more importantly, ALEC repeatedly told the IRS that it provides no scholarships and funds no travel or entertainment expenses for elected officials.

"They have to hide the fact they are making payments to state legislators," Owens told CMD. If the scheme was made public, "it would taint their efforts at the state level. People would know Exxon Mobil or someone else is funneling money to legislators," he said, as "inducement to act in a certain way."

"That's the definition of a bribe."

For more information on ALEC's "scholarship" program, read CMD's special report [11] "ALEC's 'Scholarship' Scheme Helps Corporations Fund Legislator Trips."

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standardized testing infographic


Tuesday’s vote sets in motion a 90-day comment period during which the public may suggest changes in the policy to BESE. After that period, the rules will become part of a department policy bulletin. People who wish to suggest changes can contact BESE at 225-342-5840.

This post by the Louisiana Federation of Teachers reveals a fact that completely passed my sphere of awareness at BESE's meeting during which they approved John White's new "accountability" proposal for voucher schools. Certainly proper procedure and process for BESE is often muddled and manipulated and this provision was pretty well kept under wraps. The proposal is only three pages long and we are all capable of presenting our viable suggestions that would make it a true accountability document. I hope everyone will take the opportunity to offer their "two bits." Here is the link to the press release which has a link to the document imbedded in it. There is no direct link to the document posted on the LDOE web site at this time:

Voucher accountability a sham, LFT says

(Baton Rouge – July 24, 2012) Rules approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to impose accountability on the new statewide school voucher program are little more than a sham, spokesmen for the Louisiana Federation of Teachers said today.

“The standards ensure that parents will be given two different measuring sticks, one for private schools and one for public schools,” said LFT Legislative Director Mary-Patricia Wray.

Rather than empowering parents to make informed choices about their children’s education, Wray said, “It ensures that they will have no such means with which to act on behalf of their children.”

Coming just one day after the public got its first glimpse of the proposed rules for voucher schools, BESE’s vote gave the nod to a plan that will initially apply to just about 30 of the 125 private and religious schools which will accept public funds as tuition for students who leave some public schools.

While public schools are assigned letter grades from A to F based on statistics kept by the state, there will be no similar grading system for private and religious schools.

And while public school students are required to pass high-stakes tests to pass to the next grade, there will be no similar requirement for voucher schools.

Voucher students in grades three through 11 will be required to take the same standardized tests as public school students. Test scores for schools with more than 10 students per grade, or more than 40 students in all tested grades, will not be released.

Voucher schools that fail to meet achievement expectations on what is called a Scholarship Cohort Index can be penalized. However, the rules give State Superintendent of Education John White broad authority to waive all of the requirements.

LFT President Steve Monaghan took BESE to task for the way in which the voucher rules were approved.

BESE’s action mimicked the way the state legislature passed education bills without regard for proper procedures or for public opinion, Monaghan said.

“That flawed pattern of process continued as BESE adopted its so-called rules for voucher accountability,” Monaghan said.

The board kept its proposal secret from critics of vouchers until yesterday, Monaghan said. But a press release from the Department of Education revealed that voucher backers had plenty of time to analyze the proposal and issue statements of support before the public saw the new rules.

At Tuesday’s meeting, members of the public were given just three minutes each to offer critiques of the new rules.

“I fully understand the idea behind a three-minute egg,” Monaghan said, “but I don’t like the concept of a three-minute democracy.”

Tuesday’s vote sets in motion a 90-day comment period during which the public may suggest changes in the policy to BESE. After that period, the rules will become part of a department policy bulletin. People who wish to suggest changes can contact BESE at 225-342-5840.


Personal experiences are the best way to convey the realities of life stories without the spin. My own personal experience mirrored that of the last teacher quoted in this story. The "reform" movement designed to aid and abet the privatization of public education continues to attack the teaching profession in order to achieve its goals of removing collective bargaining, moving public dollars into the private sector, and thus undermine the ability of citizens to participate in the control of their own schools and communities. Supt. White says that parents know best how their children should be educated but only if their CHOICES are offered on HIS MENU!

Yesterday's BESE meeting was a perfect example of the corrosion of the democratic process. President Penny Dastugue (Jindal appointee) consistently interrupted and cut short discussion by Board Members Lottie Beebe and Carolyn Hill because they did not agree with her intention to push through Supt. White's sham of a voucher accountability scheme. However she topped any of her previous overtly rude and mean-spirited leadership style by stating that "We didn't have to present Supt. White's proposal in an open forum. . . " Is this an omen of future proceedings for the BESE board under Pres. Dastugue? Was it really the intent of the legislature to give White unlimited power to dictate policy and to avert public input.

Mr. White is indeed enjoying unprecedented power here in Louisiana and his ego must be swollen after being truly challenged in his last position with the New York City Mayorally controlled Dept. of Education. Although Mr. White, as Deputy Supt. in charge of closing traditional public schools and replacing them with charters, was given full rein to do his damage, the citizens of NYC pushed back hard and continue to push back. Why are Louisiana citizens so complacent and so willing to allow themselves to be walked over by Mr. White. Watch this video of Supt. White in Action when he was Deputy Supt. of NYC Schools.

I hope Beebe and Hill proceed with an opinion from the Attorney General regarding their position that the legal process for presenting and voting on White's accountability measures was not adhered to and that the issue of open meetings law procedure is also questioned. BESE meetings are broadcast live through the Louisiana Department of Education web site. However, video archives of past meetings, including yesterday's, are not posted for an inordinate amount of time. Check this link regularly to access the video of yesterday's meeting.

This is re-posted from The Huffington Post


Leila Chakravarty, a seventh-grade math teacher in the Los Angeles public school system, measures the cost of austerity cuts to education not in gym size, class size or even pink slips, but in kids.

"There are plenty of days when I know someone needs help, and I simply cannot get the time to talk to him or her one-on-one before the bell rings," said Chakravarty, who noted that she has taught as many as 37 children in a class. "What does this kind of negligence do to our students? You know you're failing them. You know you could do more."

Unlike a scaled-back police or fire department, the harm caused by tighter school budgets isn't immediately apparent. As HuffPost's Joy Resmovits wrote, there are no bodies in the streets, no charred buildings, just a gradual dulling of the mind. Cutbacks in earlier grades are especially damaging, Resmovits pointed out, because that's when students learn the fundamentals -- how to read, write, add and subtract -- that undergird the rest of their education.

The Huffington Post, as part of a series on the global impact of austerity, asked readers to tell us how government budget cuts have affected them. Of all the areas we looked at -- affordable housing in San Francisco, food inspectors in Canada, social welfare in the United Kingdom -- it was cuts to the classroom that elicited the greatest response.

Many of those who wrote in are teachers struggling to make do with diminished resources. Others are parents who have watched their kids' interest in school shrink as class sizes grew. Pam Moore of Shelby County, Ala., said that after her daughter's class expanded by more than 30 percent in a year, the 10-year-old began receiving D's and F's.

"Her teacher spent most of the day trying to rein in 30 fourth-graders," Moore explained. "I ended up having her bring all her work home every night from school that day. We would redo it all at night."

Chip Case, a math teacher in Chula Vista, Calif., said every year his district faces budget cuts and pink slips, but this spring, even the "teacher of the year" was axed. "Meanwhile my geometry classes creep toward the infinite," he wrote. "Logic, constructions, and trigonometry don't get any easier with 35 to 42 kids in my class."

Case said he puts in long hours after school and sometimes even on Saturdays. "This leave less time for my AP calculus students, and worse, my wife and two young kids (4 years and 6 months old, respectively). My 4-year-old asks me when I leave, 'Are you going to teach the kids?' 'I'm going to try my best,' I tell her."

Budgets are falling in many places. The Salem-Keizer School District in Salem, Ore., cut 48 teacher librarians in 2011, according to Daletta Gonzales, a former teacher librarian from the area. Angela Burford, a mother of three in Alberta, Canada, said that since her son began kindergarten in Airdrie, the schools have become woefully overcrowded. Libraries have been eliminated and gymnasiums cut in half. Teachers have lost their resource room and the school no longer has a dedicated music room. "Entire classes are being taught in hallways," Burford said.

Thirty-four U.S. states have slashed their K-12 education budgets since 2008, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and making sure class sizes don't explode nationwide would cost an additional $10 billion annually, according to a March report from the Southern Regional Educational Board.

But what was perhaps most surprising was how many of the parents writing in response to an austerity series were decidedly well-off, with one mother explaining her decision to spend $80,000 a year to send her kids to private school. "We are an upper middle class family, making around the $250,000 benchmark that our wonderful government has set as 'wealthy,'" she wrote. "I can tell you that if Obama does let the tax credit expire, we will be taxed right out of being middle class, and then, I guess my children will enter into the public school system."

Another mother wrote that her children's private school has art, music, sports, theater, small language classes, trips, teachers who have the time to help individual students, clean bathrooms, healthy lunches, school spirit and 100 percent college acceptance, but complained that she is "paying a fortune!"

It's a clear comment about the benefits of private school -- and a reminder of what we might like for all students.

Here's a selection of responses that embody the problems of austerity in education.

Two years ago I was let go at a rural Utah high school because of budget cuts. I taught U.S. history and government. I had several classes with 35 to 38 students. After my position was cut, my classes were redistributed between two other teachers. I do not know what class sizes were the next year, but obviously, they went up. I am currently substituting in suburban Salt Lake County and I have substituted in English classes with nearly 50 students. This has been going on in Utah since the 1980s, when I was in elementary school. Even back then there were 30 students in the elementary schools. My dad was a high school science teacher then, and he always had around 40 or more students in at least some of his classes. Utah has the lowest per pupil spending in the country, and it has been this way for at least 30 years. So I understand how teachers in New York feel, but I have no sympathy ... I want to go back to full-time teaching, but there have been no jobs for history teaching. -- Chad Smith

I teach seventh-grade world history in Central Point, Oregon. Last year my class sizes were 34, 36, 37, 41, and 41. -- Leaf Jensen

I teach fourth grade in Ohio. Last year I had 22 students, this year I will have 30. I expect 30 to be the new norm, as other schools in our district are also seeing larger classes. Along with this, 50% of my evaluation is now based on students' achievement test scores, and all fourth-grade teachers will be ranked against each other, based on those scores. (We have learned that it is counterproductive to rank students, but find it useful to pit teachers against each other?) -- Kathryn Corson

I am a fifth-grade teacher at P.S. 3, which is located in Brooklyn, N.Y. I have been teaching for 34 years, much of it in District 13.
Last year, I began the year with 34 students. Although that number eventually decreased to 30, it was a very difficult year. I found my "small" group instruction wasn't that small, and I often felt guilty I couldn't always get to every student the way I wanted. I had students coming up in the mornings before our official start time of 8:15 a.m. to assist them with whatever they couldn't grasp during regular lessons. I had students with me during my lunch and during my prep periods trying to provide that extra help.

It was draining because I felt I never had enough time to do anything administratively, meaning I had hours and hours of paperwork to complete when I got home at 5, on the weekends and holidays. I know many people look at teachers and scoff at our "hours," but in reality, most of us work 24/7.

Our school budget has been slashed by hundreds of thousands of dollars, and we recently had to let four very good teachers go. Charter schools, on the other hand, do not adhere to the same basic rules as neighborhood schools, nor do they have to worry about budgets being cut, because it seems they have an endless flow of cash on hand.

I am proud to say all of my current students met the [New York state] criteria for both the [English language arts] and math exams. We all worked hard and succeeded. But at what cost? Small class size, particularly in the lower grades, is essential for student success. Children have so much extra baggage nowadays, and many live in shelters. Not only do they need smaller classes for academic success, but they also need small classes to help build their confidence, to let them know that people do care and to make sure they learn how to survive in life so the patterns of substance and alcohol abuse, physical abuse and neglect will be broken. We need to show our children that college is possible. Smaller class sizes give teachers the power to help even the most fragile student attain confidence, success and goals.

Here in NYC, it's obvious that the mayor is not concerned with the education of our children, but rather to bust the union. But that is another discussion! -- Lynda Costagliola

Our school district in California has been cut year after year. If the ballot measure does not pass in November to raise the sales tax, then our district will cut an additional 15 days off the school year (we have already cut eight days). This means our kids will get out on May 22 next year! I don't understand why education is not a priority for our country anymore when we are fighting overseas to provide these types of opportunities to others! -- Nicole Botti

My grandson, who just completed second grade, had 29 in his class with an aide to help his teacher only approximately one hour a day! Too many! And we are in a small Iowa school. Iowa ... where we like to think that our schools are tops! We are dreaming as we pack more and more into a classroom. And Romney would do away with the Dept. of Education? Go figure! -- Carol Mefford

Our high school averaged five classes per teacher per day and between 25 and 30 students per class. This year, core teachers have six classes and 180 students per day. I'm sure there are many schools in the nation where the ratios are even worse. 180 school days per year, 360 lesson plans, 360 students per year with semester classes. I challenge any corporate CEO to teach, grade, and evaluate this many individuals on a weekly basis. Consider how long it takes to grade 180 papers even if you can run them through a scantron and enter them into a grade book. If you teach composition or literature, students turn in an average of one piece per week. At 18 weeks per semester, one piece per student, that's 3,240 pieces of work to evaluate per semester. This is on top of recording grades, corresponding with parents, developing [Individualized Education Programs], dealing with late or missing assignments or homebound students. No wonder most of us deep down find it hard to live up to our own expectations, to revise lessons, reinforce areas where students are weak, and spend time individually with students. With classes of 30 students in periods of 50 minutes, teachers who spend just one minute with each individual student have then 20 minutes to teach the lesson. -- Jill Schabels


I received this open letter being circulated statewide and written by Dr. Mordecai Potash. Some attachments are included at the end of the letter but several others were sent as documents with no URL. They constitute documents that support the questions that this letter poses and were made available to the press. I will continue to report information and responses as I receive them.

Louisiana can no longer stand by and allow its Governor's dictatorial rule to destroy our local economies and the quality of life for our communities through the destruction of our public schools and other public services that are paid for by taxpayers and benefit ALL residents of the State of Louisiana.

Bobby Jindal "BELIEVES" as does his Superintendent of Education John White that he has unlimited control of the legislative arm of government and in this last session he has lived up to that expectation. Contact your local legislators and tell them that you will not accept their allegiance to a Governor when they are elected to represent YOU and their other constituents.

Make your voices heard through the process call RECALL which was instituted by a previous legislature for the express purpose of providing a singular means for voters with little power other than their VOTE to remove elected officials who do not fulfill their obligations. Governor Bobby Jindal, Rep. Kevin Pearson, Rep. Cromer and House Speaker Chuck Kleckley are all recall subjects at the current time. Other recalls statewide are pending including ALL who represent St. TAmmany. Visit to gain access to these petitions through our trained volunteers.


Since I have been ‘all over the media’ in the last week and 1/2, I have received phone calls and e-mail messages from reporters and different government officials about the closure of SELH. I would like to share with you some important, albeit early, conclusions I have made from those encounters.

Let me also say that I am not a big fan of conspiracy theories. Lee Harvey Oswald made a lucky shot - aided by the time he spent in the Marines. Several Apollo missions really landed on the moon – it was not done on a Hollywood movie set. The government is not hiding aliens in Area 51 and… You get my point.

But I have begun to appreciate and confirm that the closure of SELH is not part of some sudden financial typo made by the federal government that put Louisiana in a sudden pickle. Rather, it is part of a sustained campaign by specific politicians and for-profit healthcare companies to close down state hospitals and re-open some of them as privately run, for-profit hospitals. Some other closed state hospitals will be converted into other profitable developments such as high-end residential housing or shopping centers / commercial use. When I say specific politicians… that is what I mean. This is not necessarily a Republican Party – driven plan. It also does not mean that some Democratic politicians are not also participating in this shrouded scheme. Let me explain.

We have been told by Bruce Greenstein that the closure of SELH was necessary because of a suddenly discovered financial typo in the recently passed transportation bills based on other past voluminous federal spending bills. That is not true.

As reported in The Advocate on July16th (attached to this e-mail), the loss of funding was known well before the RESTORE Act / Transportation Bill was passed. Both Democratic and Republican Louisiana politicians were aware of the loss of funding and a compromise was reached to restore the funding. All that needed to happen was for the Jindal Administration to contact the Speaker of the House and confirm that they (Jindal) wanted the funding restored. Instead, there was silence. There was silence despite repeated calls to Jindal’s Chief of Staff – Paul Rainwater – by Democratic and Republican members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation. All that was required to restore the lost $551 million was minimal participation – simple tacit approval – from the Jindal Administration. If that had happened, the cutbacks in LSU’s budget, the closure of SELH, and other cuts would not happen. Their silence on this issue – despite implorations from Louisiana’s Democratic and Republican politicians alike - is deafening.

Why wouldn’t the Jindal administration want money restored? Why not have more federal dollars sent to the state? Isn’t that what politicians are lauded for? Bringing “the bacon” from Washington to their own state’s priority projects? Well, if your priority project is the outsourcing of state healthcare resources from the public sector to private, for-profit, healthcare companies - then bringing home federal bacon would be the last thing you would want to do! Instead, you would want to promote or manufacture every healthcare funding crisis you could possibly find whether it is a mid-year crisis, end of year crisis, Ides of March crisis, etc. Crisis would give you license to close state facilities and outsource contracts to for-profit healthcare companies – especially those that you already have ties to and already contribute money and resources to your political campaigns.

In recent days, former DHH Secretary Alan Levine has been seen in the halls of power in Baton Rouge. He made it clear to legislators that asked him that he was there consulting ‘free of charge’. Since leaving Louisiana, Alan Levine has returned to his home state of Florida and is now part of the senior leadership team of Health Management Associates. Mr. Levine is responsible for operating Health Management Associates hospitals around the south. As my attached MS Word file describes (Health Management Associates-Company Info), Health Management Associates is a for-profit healthcare firm that has taken advantage of healthcare privatization efforts in several states – especially in Medicaid. A recent Fair Disclosure Wire report from September 7th, 2011, discusses privatization opportunities in the Medicaid markets in Louisiana, Kentucky, and other states that Health Management Associates and other companies are poised to take advantage of. Closing down state facilities and making deep cutbacks is LSU’s budget creates opportunities to privatize services that the state is no longer providing because they now don’t have the money. With Levine’s recent re-appearance in Baton Rouge, it is also important to note that this apparent conflict of lobbying the same government that you were just recently a part of does not apply to the Governor’s Office.

So, what is the problem for the Louisiana citizen and taxpayer? There are several. These private for-profit companies highly restrict services and try to avoid treating underserved communities in efforts to maximize profits. They also are highly resistant to providing appropriate settings for education for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals in training. That’s because education itself takes time and money and interferes with their own efforts to increase efficiency. Anyone who has worked at Charity will tell you that devoting time to teaching is not the most efficient use of attending time – only the most important and most rewarding! Also, these private companies often try to get the “cheapest” help that they can find – every increasing the number of patients each doctor must see in each clinic, the number of beds each nurse must cover on the floor, until healthcare quality and service is highly compromised. And you can just forget about any program that doesn’t meet company financial expectations – no matter how needed by the community at large.

In regards to the impact on the severely / persistently mentally ill, private for-profit healthcare companies are just fine with the imprisonment of the mentally ill. It keeps them out of their hospitals and also gives these companies another opportunity to privatize – this time privatizing prisons’ medical clinic.

A final drawback to the Louisiana citizen is that these private companies eventually charge more and more to the state for the services they deliver – increasing rates at each re-negotiation. Like a sub-prime mortgage, they sucker you in with a low-low teaser rate, but then the interest rate and payments explode a few years later when it is time to renegotiate. Many states that have already experimented with privatization of prisons and jails have already found this to be the case leading to some states to cancel their contracts when they realize that it is just cheaper to run things themselves!

I actually believe, though, that the plan is not to privatize SELH as a for-profit hospital. Rather, the plan is to sell the land for development. A reporter recently checked the state land office and was surprised to learn that the land – or much of it - was for sale. As shown in the state’s own Asset Management Report (also attached), the land itself is currently valued at $7.6 million with a total value of nearly $68 million! With the growth in St. Tammany Parish, this could make for a very exclusive gated community that would make English Turn look like the Irish Channel. There has been scuttlebutt about certain politicians with connections to development companies / contractor companies taking advantage of the sale and development. I understand that there have been issued Freedom of Information requests to see just how interested some of these politicians actually are, and exactly when their interests began.

I personally believe that privatization efforts will focus on Central Louisiana State Hospital / Pineville and possibly East Louisiana State Hospital. I have heard that modernization efforts – at the state’s expense - are happening at Central Louisiana State Hospital. These will be undoubtedly be completed just prior to the next round of “unfortunate and unforeseen” DHH cutbacks that have previously caused the closures of New Orleans Adolescent Hospital and Greenwell Springs Hospital and now gravely threaten SELH.

One final motivating reason to privatize is that it shrinks the number of state workers that are on the payroll, weakening the power of civil service advocates and unions representing government / civil service employees. The importance of this cannot be over-stated. For some politicians, civil service unions are a major political force impeding their agenda. Any opportunity to reduce the state rolls of civil service employees further weakens the major civil service unions and their ability to advocate for their positions in the capitol. This, in turn, enhances some politicians’ abilities to push legislation through that would have been opposed and defeated if organized government labor had more influence. One more observation; you can pretty much guarantee that former state facilities – once privatized – will work tirelessly to prevent efforts of their own workforce to unionize, organize, or engage in collective bargaining.

To conclude this e-mail, I do not want to hold myself out as knowing all the facts. I do not fancy myself as some medical “Fox Molder” from The X-Files. Some of what I say above will not hold up in days / weeks to come. Other parts will appear prescient. I am simply a psychiatrist who works largely in the public sector and has seen the care to under-served communities that only the public sector has been able to deliver. I am an academician whose research has shown that the privatization of state mental health facilities appears to deprive the most vulnerable of this state with the sustained help they need, while enriching the profit opportunities of a few out-of-state companies. I am a public health advocate who is deeply concerned about diminishing opportunities to educate and train tomorrow’s healthcare leaders when training facilities are either “shuttered” or “cut to the bone”.
- Mordi

Mordecai Potash, M.D.


This letter from the Public Affairs Research Council dated July 17 to Superintendent John White calls on him to develop REAL accountability for the voucher receiving private and parochial schools.

Where was the PAR when this legislation was being debated? Where were our legislators when they voted on legislation that gave John White virtually singular control of most aspects of the law. THEY will be held accountable along with John White because they allowed this to happen.

Sorry I can't figure out how to copy this letter which was sent to me as an attachment. You can open it here:


Sunday night I sent a Public Record Request to Supt. White regarding Jeff. Parish School Supt. Meza's claim that White had promised him $200,000 a year for three years for every new charter he opens in Jefferson Parish.

From: lpbharley
To: john.white
Sent: Sun, Jul 15, 2012 11:46 pm
Subject: Public Information Request

Dear Superintendent White:

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

1. All correspondence, contractual agreements, cooperative agreements or commitments between you and/or the Department of Education and Superintendent Meza and/or the Jefferson Parish School Board agreeing to fund the Jefferson Parish School System in the amount of $200,000 for each new charter school with whom they contract to be paid each year for three years.

The statement said the Education Department has committed to giving new Jefferson Parish charter schools $200,000 for start-up money each year in their first three years in service. State education Superintendent John White said in the statement that the cooperative effort between Jefferson and the state in part recognizes parish leaders for insisting that, "all of their students have access to a high-quality school."

2. The source of the funds that you agreed to pay for the above.

3. When the agreement was made and when, if any, the first payments have been made.

4. Similar or identical contractual agreements that you have made with any and all other school districts or LAEs or charter schools for any amount and for the same circumstances.


* * * * * * * * I didn't get an answer in the prescribed 72 hours so I sent this second request.

From: ""
Date: July 18, 2012 5:12:35 PM CDT
To: John White
Cc: Lottie Beebe
Subject: Fwd: Public Information Request

Supt. White -

I have not heard from you regarding my request for public information. It is my understanding that requests must be acknowledged within 72 hours.

Please let me know if my request will be denied.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * Within 30 minutes I got this response. Notice it was CC'd to Erin Bendily (She's the lady with whom Supt. White had his email conversation about what the heck he was going to say to the legislature the next day when they asked about the voucher screw up.)

From: Raphael Gang
To: lpbharley
Cc: John White ; Erin Bendily (DOE)
Sent: Wed, Jul 18, 2012 5:32 pm
Subject: RE: Public Information Request

Ms. Barrios,

The attached RFA describes the Department’s current priorities regarding start-up funding for targeted geographic areas throughout the state. At this time, there is no other documentation regarding the process for allocating start-up funding to schools. Please continue to check our website for further information about the availability of start-up funding.


Raphael Gang
Deputy Director
Louisiana Department of Education
1201 North Third Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70802

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * The attachment can be found within this Press Release and is titled Call for Quality Schools. After reading it, I sent this third request. I was trying to be nice but I guess my last comment could be construed as "tongue in cheek" at best. I apologize for that - sort of.

Mr. Gang -

Thank you for responding to my second request for information.

I have read the attached RFA. I am asking for the following information again, which your attachment does not provide according to my reading. Please direct me to a specific part of the document if I am incorrect.

1. All correspondence, contractual agreements, cooperative agreements or commitments between you and/or the Department of Education and Superintendent Meza and/or the Jefferson Parish School Board agreeing to fund the Jefferson Parish School System in the amount of $200,000 for each new charter school with whom they contract to be paid each year for three years. If, in fact, no "commitment" was made and no "cooperative effort" communicated with JPPSS, please indicate that. If the agreement was simply verbal, please so indicate.

The statement said the Education Department has committed to giving new Jefferson Parish charter schools $200,000 for start-up money each year in their first three years in service. State education Superintendent John White said in the statement that the cooperative effort between Jefferson and the state in part recognizes parish leaders for insisting that, "all of their students have access to a high-quality school."

2. The source of the funds that you agreed to pay for the above. I found no such information in your attachment. If an agreement was, in fact, made between Supt. White and JPPSS, please indicate from whence the proposed funding was to come.

3. When the agreement was made and when, if any, the first payments have been made. The JPPSS web site nor the newspaper article identified a date that the purported commitment was made between Mr. White and JPPSS.

4. Similar or identical contractual agreements that you have made with any and all other school districts or LAEs or charter schools for any amount and for the same circumstances.

I am giving you the benefit of the doubt that your first response was in good faith. Therefore, I would appreciate a more complete response within 72 hours.


Lee P. Barrios, M.Ed., NBCT

-----Original Message-----
From: Raphael Gang
To: lpbharley
Cc: John White ; Erin Bendily (DOE)
Sent: Wed, Jul 18, 2012 5:32 pm
Subject: RE: Public Information Request

Ms. Barrios,

The attached RFA describes the Department’s current priorities regarding start-up funding for targeted geographic areas throughout the state. At this time, there is no other documentation regarding the process for allocating start-up funding to schools. Please continue to check our website for further information about the availability of start-up funding.


Raphael Gang

Raphael Gang

Deputy Director

Louisiana Department of Education

1201 North Third Street

Baton Rouge, LA 70802


Begin forwarded message:

From: ""
Date: July 18, 2012 5:12:35 PM CDT
To: John White
Cc: Lottie Beebe
Subject: Fwd: Public Information Request

Supt. White -

I have not heard from you regarding my request for public information. It is my understanding that requests must be acknowledged within 72 hours.

Please let me know if my request will be denied.


Lee P. Barrios, M.Ed., NBCT

178 Abita Oaks Loop

Abita Springs, LA 70420


-----Original Message-----
From: lpbharley
To: john.white
Sent: Sun, Jul 15, 2012 11:46 pm
Subject: Public Information Request

Dear Superintendent White:

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

1. All correspondence, contractual agreements, cooperative agreements or commitments between you and/or the Department of Education and Superintendent Meza and/or the Jefferson Parish School Board agreeing to fund the Jefferson Parish School System in the amount of $200,000 for each new charter school with whom they contract to be paid each year for three years.

The statement said the Education Department has committed to giving new Jefferson Parish charter schools $200,000 for start-up money each year in their first three years in service. State education Superintendent John White said in the statement that the cooperative effort between Jefferson and the state in part recognizes parish leaders for insisting that, "all of their students have access to a high-quality school."

2. The source of the funds that you agreed to pay for the above.

3. When the agreement was made and when, if any, the first payments have been made.

4. Similar or identical contractual agreements that you have made with any and all other school districts or LAEs or charter schools for any amount and for the same circumstances.



I am posting a press release that I received today regarding on-going research into the viability of virtual charter schools.

Much has been said by many, including me, about the limitations, pitfalls and opportunities for abuse with the current reform supported proliferation of on-line learning for K-12 students. Bottom line - in too many cases virtual charters feed the corporate bank accounts and political aspirations of one "He-Who-Cannot-Be-Named" current Louisiana Governor.

Colorado has had longer to feel the pain of K12 Inc. and it is from that state that this report eminates. However, it was previously reported that K12 Inc. is being sued by its own stockholders for inflating its claims of success and thereby artificially driving up stock value. A Louisiana resident-investor is one of the plaintiffs in that case.

In fact, K12 Inc. through its Connections Academy is the on-line virtual school of CHOICE (BESE's choice)for Louisiana students.

ACCOUNTABILITY is essential in the conduct of public education which is funded by TAXPAYER dollars. Accountability in Louisiana is under the purview of our new unqualified state Superintendent John White. He was "gifted" that authority by our legislature recently to satisfy our Governor's drive for privatization of much that carries the scarlet letter "G" on it.

Next week, Tuesday, July 24 at 11:00, BESE meets to consider Supt. White's latest pronouncements regarding expectations for voucher receiving schools. IT IS TIME FOR LOUISIANA CITIZENS to also make their appearance at these public meetings to express their concerns about the disastrous reforms being forced down our throats and the systematic dissolution of our system of public education. Surely there will be an opportunity for airing this latest report on K12 Inc. which contracts with the State of Louisiana for education services. But first, do your own research by Googling K12Inc. and Virtual Schools.



William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058,
Gary Miron, (269) 599-7965,

URL for this press release:

BOULDER, CO (July 18, 2012) -- A new report released today by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado shows that students at K12 Inc., the nation’s largest virtual school company, are falling further behind in reading and math scores than students in brick-and-mortar schools.

These virtual schools students are also less likely to remain at their schools for the full year, and the schools have low graduation rates. “Our in-depth look into K12 Inc. raises enormous red flags,” said NEPC Director Kevin Welner.

The report’s findings will be presented in Washington today to a national meeting of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), where the report’s lead author, Dr. Gary Miron, is scheduled to debate Dr. Susan Patrick, president and CEO of the International Association for K–12 Online Learning. The report is titled, Understanding and Improving Full- Time Virtual Schools.

“Our findings are clear,” said Miron, an NEPC fellow, “Children who enroll in a K12 Inc. cyberschool, who receive full-time instruction in front of a computer instead of in a classroom with a live teacher and other students, are more likely to fall behind in reading and math. These children are also more likely to move between schools or leave school altogether – and the cyberschool is less likely to meet federal education standards.”

K12 Inc. schools generally operate on less public revenue, but they have considerable cost savings, says Miron. They devote minimal or no resources to facilities, operations, and transportation. These schools also have more students per teacher and pay less for teacher salaries and benefits than brick-and-mortar schools.

“Computer-assisted learning has tremendous potential,” said Miron. “But at present, our research shows that virtual schools such as those operated by K12 Inc. are not working effectively. States should not grow full-time virtual schools until they have evidence of success. Most immediately, we need to better understand why the performance of these schools suffers and how it can be improved.”

Student performance results from the current study are clearly in line with the existing body of evidence, which includes state evaluations and audits of virtual schools in five states as well as a more rigorous study of student learning in Pennsylvania virtual charter schools conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University. CREDO’s study found virtual-school students ended up with learning gains that were “significantly worse” than students in traditional charters and public schools.

Miron and co-author Jessica L. Urschel, a doctoral student at Western Michigan University, analyzed federal and state data sets for revenue, expenditures, and student performance. In terms of student demographics and school performance data, the researchers studied all of K12’s 48 full-time virtual schools. In terms of revenues and expenditures, they used a federal data set that includes seven K12 Inc. schools from five different states (Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Ohio and Pennsylvania), although these seven schools accounted for almost 60 percent of all of K12 Inc.’s enrollment from 2008-09, which is the most recent year of available finance data.

Key findings include:

• Math scores for K12 Inc.’s students are 14 to 36 percent lower than scores for other students in the states in which the company operates schools.

• Only 27.7 percent of K12 Inc.’s schools reported meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards in 2010-11, compared to 52% for brick-and-mortar schools in the nation as a whole.

• Student attrition is exceptionally high in K12 Inc. and other virtual schools. Many families appear to approach the virtual schools as a temporary service: Data in K12 Inc.’s own school performance report indicate that 31% of parents intend to keep their students enrolled for a year or less, and more than half intend to keep their students enrolled for two years or less.

• K12 Inc.’s schools spend more on overall instructional costs than comparison schools – including the cost of computer hardware and software, but noticeably less on teachers’ salaries and benefits.

• K12 Inc. spends little or nothing on facilities and maintenance, transportation, and food service.

• K12 Inc. enrolls students with disabilities at rates moderately below public school averages, although this enrollment has been increasing, but the company spends half as much per pupil as charter schools overall spend on special education instruction and a third of what districts spend on special education instruction.

“Part of K12’s problem seems to be that it skimps on special education spending and employs few instructors, despite having lower overhead than brick-and-mortar schools,” said the NEPC’s Welner, who is a professor of education policy at the University of Colorado.

Also, students enrolled at K12 Inc. cyberschools are much less likely to remain – raising inter-connected issues of mobility, attrition and graduation rates.

“Our research highlights a number of significant issues at K12, Inc. schools, and we recognize that these issues are also of concern at other full-time virtual schools,” said Miron. “We need a better understanding of how this new teaching and learning model can be most effective, so that full-time virtual schools can better serve students and the public school system as a whole.”

The NEPC report on K12 Inc., Understanding and Improving Full-Time Virtual Schools, can be found on the web at

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence. For more information on NEPC, please visit


So another piece of junk being used to promote the deprofessionalism of teaching. I read quickly through this article. Now they are comparing teachers to "wolves in sheep's clothing."

and then quickly researched what I KNOW to be the REALITY of teacher pay in Louisiana (I have a masters degree)

and I found this:

For a first year teacher in St. Tammany (one of the highest paying districts in the state) , the difference in pay between undergrad and masters is: $471 A YEAR. The bump to Doctorate is $1,968 A YEAR.

For a 25 year teacher in St. Tammany, the difference in pay between undergrad and masters is: $2,462 A YEAR. The bump to Doctorate is $6,274 A YEAR.

Beginning pay in St. Tammany is: Bachelors $44,284 Masters $46,156 Doctorate $49,091

25 years experience will get you: Bachelors $56,851 Masters $59,303 Doctorate $63,125 The difference in pay between a beginning teacher and a teacher with 25 years experience is: $12,567 Bachelors; $13,147 Masters; $14,034 Doctorate.

The American Progress article chart shows Louisiana AVERAGE masters bump is $4,810. Another chart identified as showing figures based on "COST ADJUSTMENT" whatever that means is $5,199 for AVERAGE masters bump.

Also, keep in mind when looking at statistics that there are numbers that skew AVERAGES and make them virtually meaningless to the individual receiving the paycheck. For instance. DeSoto Parish pays the highest teacher salaries - beginning $50,100 bachelors and $51,850 for Masters (a bump of only $1,750 A YEAR). So how does the American Progress article figure the AVERAGE masters bump is $4,810 when that doesn't even exist?

For those of you not from Louisiana it is important to note that the State of Louisiana funds each district a set amount of money (which is the same for every district) for minimum teacher pay. Then districts, according to their own ability to raise taxpayer millages, supplements its teachers. As an example here is the Louisiana Base Pay for 2011-2012:

Bachelors first year $14,631 with a bump for Masters Degree to $14,984 and doctorate $16,223 ( can you imagine Mr. Corporate with a doctorate of accepting $16,223 a year in pay?

The state pays the following for 25 years of experience: $22,846 bachelors, $24,174 Masters, $26,020 Doctorate. Again Mr. Corporate - 25 years experience?

ARE YOU PROUD OF THAT SUPERINTENDENT WHITE? - who has never proven the claim he made AFTER being appointed state superintendent that he earned his masters degree (very quickly I might add and on-line evidently since he had been in Louisiana working hard to destroy public schools for a year). Oh and by the way, Supt. White - with a bachelors degree and NO EXPERIENCE AS A CERTIFIED TEACHER hauls in $275,000 a year with a $2,500 a month housing allowance (that's another $30,000 but for some strange reason is not called salary) and the use of a state-owned vehicle. His contract calls for a 6% YEARLY RAISE upon a "favorable evaluation" the details of which have never been outlined but I'm sure it will rely on the manipulation of student test scores statistics and while his salary will go up, teacher salaries (based on the same scores will undoubtedly go down??????)

DeSoto Parish "skews" the inevitably reported AVERAGE page for teachers and is able to pay its teachers so well because of the Haynesville Shale discovery.

Our Governor, our legislators and our new-found education policymakers have engaged in a crusade to have the public believe that teachers are overpaid, ineffective, and protected by a union thug mentality. They have bought into the American Legislative Exchange model legislation designed to further erode public confidence in educators by instituting a form of effectiveness assessment that cannot accurately differentiate between high and low performing teachers. That means that not only are some GOOD teachers going to be deemed ineffective and lose their certification and livelihoods but some BAD teachers are going to be deemed EFFECTIVE and retained based largely on the results of student high stakes standardized test scores.

The erosion of public confidence in public education and teachers and the removal of community control over their schools is effectively disenfranchising citizens. Communities are destroyed by destroying the institutions that affect the quality of life in the community. Governor Jindal continues to destroy the delivery of medical care, opportunities for improved communication capacity, defunding of our public schools, reducing funding for higher education leading to increases in tuition and the privatization of government services that will cause them to increase costs in order to make a profit.

Individuals in our community MUST open the dialogue and organize to take action against the the imposition of the will of those few who control our local and state government upon the collective will of the members of each of our communities. Don't let these lies and misrepresentations fool you into believing that a political ideology or an individual's own personal interests are more important or more valuable than the knowledge of and vested interest that you and your neighbors have in your community.

ATTENTION: Today I read this blog in Education Week Magazine by Stephen Sawchuck. Another clue that going after higher degrees is another strategy for de-professionizing the teaching profession. Shame on you Stephen for not doing your homework before reporting these false statistics.


Governor Jindal and his superintendent John White say that parents know best what is right for their children. This blog was written by a parent who has decided to compare what JINDAL and WHITE say is right for his child and his own research so that he can make the right CHOICE!

Background - The Louisiana Federation of Teachers, the Louisiana Association of Educators and 30 Louisiana School Boards have sued the State of Louisiana regarding the constitutionality of the new voucher legislation which will use taxpayer money to fund vouchers for private and parochial schools. This parent has looked into the merits of the case himself. Unlike the Judge Tim Kelly who presided over the first hearing and determined that the voucher legislation could proceed until further court hearings, this parent is not married or related to any of Governor Jindal's former staff. (Judge Kelly married Jindal's former Chief of Staff Angele Davis). So his perspective may not be skewed in the same direction. What do you think about his analysis?

Does the Louisiana voucher program pass the public choice test?

Posted on July 8, 2012

From Wikipedia:

Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 536 U.S. 639 (2002), was a case decided by the United States Supreme Court which tested the allowance of school vouchers in relation to the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Sound familiar? This Supreme Court case overturned precedent and opened the way for the Louisiana K-12 Scholarship Program .

Wikipedia, again:

Under the Private Choice Test developed by the court, for a voucher program to be constitutional it must meet all of the following criteria:

■the program must have a valid secular purpose,
■aid must go to parents and not to the schools,
■a broad class of beneficiaries must be covered,
■the program must be neutral with respect to religion, and
■there must be adequate nonreligious options.

The court ruled that the Ohio program met the five-part test in that 1) the valid secular purpose of the program was “providing educational assistance to poor children in a demonstrably failing public school system”, 2) the vouchers were given to the parents, 3) the “broad class” was all students enrolled in currently failing programs, 4) parents who received vouchers were not required to enroll in a religious-based school, and 5) there were other public schools in adjoining districts, as well as non-sectarian private schools in the Cleveland area, available that would accept vouchers.

Let’s take these 5 requirements in turn for the Lousiana program:

1) Does the Louisiana voucher program have a valid secular purpose? As in the Zelman case, yes – the purpose is to improve the education of children in poorly-rated public schools.

2) Are the vouchers were given to the parents, not the schools? I’m not sure about this one. According to the Louisiana program website, “Funds will be paid directly to the school on behalf of the student.” However, this probably passes the test because in theory, if not in practice, it is a parent’s choice where to enroll a student.

3) Is a broad class of beneficiaries covered? Participation is subject to school attendance (only a student attending a poorly-rated school – a school given a C, D, or F grade by the state – qualifies for a state/local voucher), and to income limitations.

4) Is the program neutral to religion? Both non-sectarian, parochial, and other faith-based private schools are eligible to offer voucher seats and accept money from the state.

We’re on a roll! It’s all good, right?

5) Are there adequate nonreligious options?

Oops. So close!

I believe the Louisiana program fails the last test. Certainly in the real Louisiana we all share.

In the Cleveland, Ohio case decided by the Supreme Court, Rehnquist writing for the majority relied heavily on the availability of non-sectarian options, including Cleveland “community” (i.e., charter) schools and public magnet schools:

Nor is there evidence that the program fails to provide genuine opportunities for Cleveland parents to select secular educational options: Their children may remain in public school as before, remain in public school with funded tutoring aid, obtain a scholarship and choose to attend a religious school, obtain a scholarship and choose to attend a nonreligious private school, enroll in a community school, or enroll in a magnet school. The Establishment Clause question whether Ohio is coercing parents into sending their children to religious schools must be answered by evaluating all options Ohio provides Cleveland schoolchildren, only one of which is to obtain a scholarship and then choose a religious school.

So what are the non-sectarian options in Louisiana? Looking at the listing of seats available, linked from the Louisiana program website:

There are 30 Louisiana parishes that have participating schools. Of these, East Baton Rouge (2 of 17 schools), Jefferson (2 of 13), Orleans (1 of 22), Ouachita (1 of 6), and St. Landry (1 of 2) have schools that are not obviously – from the school name – religiously affiliated offering seats. In 25 parishes with participating schools, then, there is no non-sectarian choice for a voucher school.

Looking more closely at the larger parishes:
■in East Baton Rouge, 158 or 889 seats offered are in non-sectarian schools (and on a related note, 130 of those 158 seats are offered at a school that according to one online database currently has 4 teachers for 52 students).
■In Jefferson Parish, 12 of 402 seats are available in two private schools not explicitly religiously affiliated.
■In Orleans Parish, 15 of 936 seats are potentially available in non-sectarian schools (and that’s not definitely a non-religious school).

So, does our plan pass the test outlined by the court in the Cleveland case?

A low-income parent with a child at a poorly-rated public school in most Louisiana parishes has at most two choices: stay in the questionable public school system, or try for the voucher money and a chance to attend a religious school, even if you do not believe in the religious education that the voucher is paying for.

As it currently stands, no. The state does not offer the level of non-sectarian options that the court could rely on in Zelman: for example, even if more successful public school choose to participate, and most public schools – required by law to offer more services than private schools need to – don’t have space or resources available even at a level funding. The state plan offers no additional money that a student can bring to another public school, as in the Cleveland plan.

In theory, I suppose, a new chain of secular-humanist private schools could spring up to offer a better education to a student attending a “failing” public school. That might solve this particular issue I have with the voucher program and its constitutionality. However, the Constitution needs to be interpreted in light of the world we have, not the world we wished we had.

If the program had been designed less as an attack on the very idea of public education, and more as a carefully-considered way to offer a way up for some of our poorer students, it might not be making such a joke of Louisiana’s state educational system.

To follow Clark's new blog go to:


I received this invitation from the Petitioners to the Recall of Rep. Raymond Garofalo.

WHAT: Recall Rep. Raymond E. "Ray" Garofalo

HOW: By educating ourselves and our community with the truth about what is happening to public education at the hands of Governor Jindal and the Louisiana Legislature, and collecting 9,858 signatures of registered voters in District 103 to submit to the LA Secretary of State's Office by December 23, 2012.

WHY: We are recalling Rep. Garofalo based on his freshman legislative voting record which rubber-stamped Governor Jindal's destructive anti-public education agenda at all costs, regardless of the wishes or interests of his constitutents. Mr. Garofalo has also initiated bills in which he has a clear personal conflict of interest and has neglected to address issues of extreme importance to his constituents in St. Bernard, East Bank Plaquemines, and New Orleans East.

WHEN: Saturday, July 14 - Bastille Day - at Torres Park from 9:30-12:00

Teachers and Public Education Supporters in St. Bernard are asked to wear RED, White & Blue - in observance of American Independence Day and French Bastille Day.

Dr. Mercedes Schneider of St. Tammany wil appear to speak about the Jindal Recall which we are also supporting.


The Louisiana Political Action Committee announces an event to support the Recall of Bobby Jindal and other related political actions to be held on Friday, July 27.

The Alexandria Best Western Conference Center
7-10 PM featuring a cocktail hour followed by appearances of the recall leaders who will demonstrate petition signing.

Noted author and newspaperman, Thomas Aswell, our keynote speaker, will address Jindal's scams.

Mr. Aswell has created and writes the onlines newspaper Louisiana Voice blog

Aswell's latest book is a historyy, Louisiana Rocks, which traces rock and roll's originals back to Louisiana.

Event Ticket are $35 in advance and $50 at the door.

Obtain tickets by calling 318-793-5985 or 318-443-5845


The Louisiana Political Action Committee is hosting a luncheon with featured speaker Representative Katrina Jackson.

The luncheon is a statewide call to Democratic Women to participate in politics and run for public office.

Friday, July 27 - Noon

Alexandria Best Western Conference Center
2720 North MacArthur Drive, Alexandria

Advance Tickets $25

Please call 985-809-1006 for tickets


I joined the conversation in response to Diane Ravitch's recent blog,

Those who know me know that my hot spot is Teach for America and this one really got me going.

Here is Diane's blog followed by my response. You can read the other commentary through the link.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Can TFA Save Itself from the Impending Disaster?

July 10, 2012

Gary Rubinstein told me a year or so ago that the corporate reform movement was living on borrowed time.

He believes that its ideas are so destructive and ill-conceived that it is certain to implode as failure after failure drags it down and as the public realizes that its public schools are being ruined.

In this post, he tries to figure out how Teach for America might salvage its reputation as the ship goes down. He explores his own hope that the original idea of TFA—recruiting top college graduates to teach–might survive.

He suggests that there are two different TFA legacies: One is the privatization/testing group (Rhee, John White, etc.), and the other consists of realists who have joined the education profession or found other ways to be constructive. He looks to the latter group as a saving remnant when the great ship Corporate Reform founders, as it inevitably must.

I find it hard to share Gary’s sunny optimism. I agree with him that corporate reform is a disaster and that it will collapse and die, weighted down by its failures and its inability to achieve its goals. But TFA has benefited so handsomely from the “reforms” and has produced so many of the leaders, that it is hard to see how the one good idea that launched TFA gets disassociated.

But I would like to believe. Is Gary right? Will he be the one who helped save TFA?

MY RESPONSE to the question:

De-professionalism of the teaching profession is the epitome of education "reform."

The mantra "it's about the children" is a smoke screen to divert attention away from the primary effort to remove experienced, qualified educators from the classroom to make way for all the other aspects of "transformation."

Reformers have capitalized (no pun intended) on the damage that our public education system has brought upon itself with many years of moving more and more towards an administrative, top-down structure of hierarchical control that almost instantly upon promotion from classroom to ivory tower often "necessitated" suppression of any innovative albeit practical ideas that might interfere with the new administrator's new duty of supporting the status quo and eerily similar "business model" in central office. But we complain about the corporate takeover? Are we blind?

Can't we see the forest for the trees? After three years of my participation in this "discussion" I still see little to no understanding (by administrators and policymakers) of the primary importance that the highly qualified classroom teacher plays in this on-going debacle.

Charters, vouchers, virtual schools, standardized testing, common standards/curriculum. . . are all not designed as ends in and of themselves but as the MEANS to end the need for certified educators thereby bringing down the last wall of defense that allowed the teacher to walk into the classroom and still TEACH critical thinking skills and the importance of independent thought, research, and questioning.

I am perpetually frustrated and infuriated that even those in the upper echelons of education administration who see the writing on the wall of reform are not FIGHTING for our teachers. They file lawsuits and lobby against the peripheral objectives of the reformers but obediently plan for the coming total destruction of professionalism through value-added models of teacher "effectiveness," high stakes standardized testing (another weapon in the arsenal), "common core" stds/curriculum (designed to replace teacher created lesson plans with scripts) and blended learning models - all of which will virtually deal the final blow.

If there ever was a RED FLAG, it's TFA. TFA means no certification or qualifications. TFA means no tenure or job security. TFA means no need for collective bargaining, pension benefits, equitable pay structures. TFA removes individualzed learning opportunities for the children but MOST IMPORTANTLY removes the need for experienced teachers who will be replaced with the script.

TFA would NEVER HAVE BEEN NEEDED if certified teachers had been offered appropriate incentives for teaching in schools with the greatest challenges. If they had been given the necessary training. We understand that in professional football but not in the teaching PROFESSION.

It appears that many of those now fighting TFA were actually complicit in the creation of TFA. It's hard to shut the door when the car is submerged.

Now is the time to support our TEACHERS if we want what is best for our children. We have to support and retain our professional organizations and unions as they struggle with new priorities and the necessity for internal organizational changes. We have to support our TEACHERS as they speak out against the ravages of standardized testing and standardized curriculum. We have to bring our TEACHERS to the forefront of this conversation because they are the experts who struggle every single day to provide opportunities for EVERY SINGLE CHILD who walks into their classrooms with an opportunity to learn and to think so they can be productive citizens regardless of their desire or ability to go to college.

Join the conversation and be a part of Save Our Schools People's Convention in Washington, D.C. August 2-5


Texas GOP Declares: "No More Teaching of 'Critical Thinking Skills' in Texas Public Schools"

I would have liked to re-post this entire article but permission is required, so I am including the link for you to read yourself along with a few excerpts to peak your interest.

This is one of those believe-it-or-not moments. If anyone researchs the veracity of this report and finds it is not true, I will be glad to share that research.

With regard to critical thinking, the Republican Party of Texas document states: "Knowledge-Based Education - We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student's fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority." (page 20, Republican Party of Texas, 2012).


This blog which appears in Education Week Magazine on line can be found with all of its links open at:

The Gates Foundation's Leveraged Philanthropy: Corporate Profit Versus Humanity on Three Fronts

By Anthony Cody on July 4, 2012 11:47 AM

Guest post by Chemtchr. Part One of Two.

Philanthropy wonk Lucy Bernholz defines the buzzword leverage
as "the idea that you can use a little money to access a lot of money."

It's hard to think of the Gates Foundation's $26 billion leverage effort
as "a little money", especially since it's been spread over the globe to gain access to vastly more resources than it contributes, including U.S. tax dollars, the foreign exchange of emerging African nations, and United Nations funds for international development and world health.

Gates' leveraged philanthropy model is a public-private partnership
to improve the world, partly through targeted research support but principally through public advocacy and tax-free lobbying to influence government policy. The goal of these policies is often to explicitly support profitability for corporate investors, whose enterprises are seen by the Gates Foundation as advancing human good. However, maximum corporate profit and public good often clash when its projects are implemented.

For example, chemical giant Monsanto has partnered with the Gates Foundation, which reportedly works to suppress local seed exchanges and environmentally sustainable agricultural practices through its global agricultural charity work. Fraud-prone drug giant GlaxoSmithKline
is a partner in the Foundation's work to leverage its own relatively fractional contribution to vaccination efforts, so that it centrally controls enormous world funds for purchase, pricing, and delivery of vaccines for world public health. And in its U.S. education reform charity work, the Gates Foundation has increasingly shifted its funding to promote market domination by its British corporate education services partner, Pearson Education.

The Gates Foundation, and Gates personally, also own stock and reap profits from many of these same partner corporations. In addition, the Foundation owns a profit-generating portfolio of stocks which would seem to work against the Foundation's declared missions, such as the Latin American Coca-Cola FEMSA distributorship and five multinational oil giants operating in Nigeria. These corporate investments, now moved to a blind trust whose trustees are Bill and Melinda Gates, are collaterally supported by the Foundation's tax-free lobbying and advocacy activities.

Criticism of the profit-driven philanthropy agenda is muted by the fact that many of the Foundation's "advocacy" gifts are positioned to leverage control of policy analysis and news outlets. The Gates Foundation recently undertook sponsorship of the Guardian's Global Development coverage, for instance, which now maintains a weary-but-compliant stance toward corporate domination of development aid. The Gates Foundation also literally dominates news coverage of Global Health issues.

On the U.S. Education Reform front, the Gates Foundation maintains long-time charitable support of Media Bullpen, as well as Education Week itself (see disclaimer).

Tom Paulson of Humanosphere reviewed some critical stories that reporters did get published in major news outlets last November.

The Global Health Front

In an interview with Forbes science writer Matt Herper, Gates explained how ensuring the profitablility of Big Pharma's vaccine sales will advance the health of third world populations:

Fortunately, our vaccine discovery rate has been better than the recent drug discovery rate of pharma," Gates said. "And, you know, pharma doing well is important for the world, so hopefully their discovery rate will go up.

Donor nations were shocked when UNICEF disclosed that it has been forced to pay artificially elevated prices for vaccines under an arrangement called the Advance Market Commitment, which was brokered by Gates Foundation-dominated GAVI alliance, to greatly increase drug company profits. Stakeholders also worry that industry reports of particular vaccine's effectiveness might be skewed by marketing goals.

There is no doubt that vaccines save lives, but a 2009 analysis by the British medical journal Lancet flagged a number of concerns about the Foundation's pattern of expenditures, particularly questioning the propriety of making "charitable" contributions to the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC). Others have expanded on those concerns.

The 2010 Gates Foundation announcement of $1.5 billion for maternal health in developing countries over five years was welcomed, but it came heavily leveraged. Gates launched the Health in Africa Fund, through the International Finance Corporation (IFC), to establish new mechanisms to invest world health funding and national health budgets in private-sector healthcare facilities in Africa. The Gates Foundation's funding category for Global Maternal Health includes research and development in the US of technology and treatments, and also advocacy in vulnerable African nations for government policies. Since Gates believes sustainable health systems must be privately profitable, he leverages his "maternal health" funding to effectively divert investment of available in-country funds, as well as NGO funding, into private ventures that he favors, instead of into national health plans.

The pursuit of profitability for the Foundation's corporate marketers warps the design and implementation of delivery programs. The Gates Foundation leverages its own contributions to dominate and focus external funds into its own intensive, vertically integrated programs.

Controlled from above and afar,
the programs divert all available health resources to temporary, fraud-prone drives. Vertical integration means the Foundation controls every aspect of the project, which disappears when funding is exhausted. Horizontal development of medical service capacity on the ground is frozen out, and the Foundation's opposition to comprehensive national health programs means African physicians must watch their patients die from conditions that would be treatable if a basic medical infrastructure existed.

The Global Agricultural Development Front

The Gates Foundation's philanthropic agricultural development program is partnered with international agribusiness corporations, and is aimed at promoting advanced technologies such as genetically modified crops and pesticides in developing nations. In light of this conflict, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's own investments in Monsanto and Cargill, particularly, have come under heavy criticism.

In addition to leveraging control of international development funds for its Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra) initiative, the Gates Foundation influences African governments directly to expend their own agricultural budgets to support a crop warehouse/borrowing system that binds farmers to Gates' international corporate partners, for future seed and pesticide access. On every continent but Africa, trade differential due to profits extracted by agribusiness already results in a net flow of wealth out of the developing economies, more than offsetting charitable contributions. The payoff from a new Green Revolution for the recipients of the Foundation's charity also includes health damage and environmental degradation. African and Indian agricultural workers maintain that the Foundation's philanthropy is environmentally toxic, and undermines vital agricultural development that respects local conditions.

The recent court action by a consortium of five million Brazilian soy farmers highlights how agricultural development gifts can plunge farmers into perpetual serfdom to corporate agribusiness. As reported in the journal Nature, the farmers have successfully sued Monsanto
to claw back $7.5 billion in "royalties" for the planting of seeds they had harvested themselves, for which Monsanto forcibly extracts payments. A Brazilian judge will now rule on Monsanto's appeal.

The activism of third-world environmental organizations against the Gates Foundation's take-over of UN development programs goes unreported in the U.S. press. It boiled over on June 22, however, when young Civil Society representatives staged a mass walkout of the corporate-dominated Rio+20 United Nations Summit in Brazil. The representatives of the world's actual voluntary philanthropic organizations reconvened at a summit sponsored by Friends of the Earth. Their own Rio+20 Outcome Document was delivered to over 100 heads of state and government.

The U.S. Education Reform Front

The Gates Foundation's model of leveraged philanthropy has had serious consequences in U.S. education. Many sources have criticized the specifics of Gates' profit-driven, politically enforced innovations in public schools. In Part Two of this series, I'll examine how the Foundation's corporate philanthropic model has undermined the quality of American public education, and threatens its democratic foundation.

On discussions of this blog on other forums, readers have asked for links demonstrating the direct connection between the Gates Foundation and the corporate marketing of proprietary genetically modified seeds.

The difficulty here is that the Foundation describes its projects in general terms like this:

The money will fund agricultural development projects that are already producing great results for farmers, with a goal to help millions of small farmers lift themselves out of poverty. This re-investment will be in projects that have already:
Supported the release of 34 new varieties of drought-tolerant maize.

No mention is made of partnerships with Monsanto, and "supporting the release" fails to convey how its grants to agricultural ministries helped promote "healthy" free-market agricultural policies like suspending subsidies to poor farmers, or banning traditional seeds from government seed banks.

To find the connection, you have to start at The Indypendent, by Paige Aarhus
"Why Is the Gates Foundation Helping Monsanto?"

Gates sponsorship of Monsanto in India makes no mention of collateral damage by its partner, Monsanto, there:

"Bt cotton - less miracles, more failures for Indian farmers"

"KILLER SEEDS: The Devastating Impacts of Monsanto's Genetically Modified Seeds in India"

Tragically, corruption breeds corruption, and leverage promotes leverage. What link can I give you, to document the absence of coverage of these issues on our captive media? Vandana Shiva put the pieces together on Al Jazeera.

Update: See Diane Ravitch's response to this: "I am puzzled by the Gates Foundation."

What do you think? Is there a danger in the Gates Foundation's approach to leveraged philanthropy?

Chemtchr teaches science and advises a student service club at a public high school in a diverse low-income community. She is a graduate of the University of California-Santa Cruz and Montana State University-Bozeman, and has taught in urban community-based programs and at a tribal college, as well as in public districts. She's active in Citizens for Public Schools, and in local and state councils.


Mike Klonsky

2:19 PM on July 6, 2012

Great expose Anthony. You could also have included Gates Foundation's ownership of hundreds of millions of shares of BP Oil stock.

Following the Gulf spill disaster, it was then revealed that Gates' partner in the foundation, Warren Buffet owned NALCO the company that makes COREXIT, the dispersant that is even more harmful to the environment than the oil.

Gates slogan should be "making life better through chemistry."


I'm adding this to my I TOLD YOU SO series of blogs.

ALL LEGISLATORS who voted for ACTS 1 and 2 are complicit in anything this rogue, unqualified, Teach For America OPERATIVE, and Jindal LACKEY has done to destroy public education in our state. Add to that the MEDIA that White was scheming to enlist in his cover up and that includes The Times-Picayune who has persisted in avoiding the hard questions put to it and has abandoned its journalistic duty to serve as a watch dog for the public.

The only question that remains is how and when will Jindal DUMP THIS DUNCE and will we see an abandoning of the ship by some members of the BESE Board when they finally realize they will also be held accountable for rubber stamping White's/Jindal's agenda. Shame on them all. Thanks to The News Star for reporting the FACTS!!!

The entire text of this article from The News Star and readers' comments can be found at:


11:15 PM, Jul. 1, 2012 |

Written by

Barbara Leader

Emails between Louisiana Education Superintendent John White, Gov. Bobby Jindal's spokesman Kyle Plotkin and Jindal's policy adviser Stafford Palmieri show White devising a scheme to "muddy up a narrative" and to "take some air out of the room" after a news report about the new voucher program that was published before his Senate confirmation hearing in May.

In the email exchange, White proposes creating a news story about the "due diligence" process for school voucher approvals to counter the impact of a News-Star article that revealed the state Department of Education had not performed site visits or extensive review of voucher applications.

The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee was to consider recommending White's position be made permanent, but according to the emails, White appeared more concerned about damage control from the article about New Living Word School's voucher award that had appeared five days before and the passage of the Minimum Foundation Program, which appeared tenuous at the time.

White believed the MFP discussion would take place the same day on the House Floor.

On notice

In addition to the types of questions usually asked in a confirmation hearing, White had been put on notice by the committee that he should expect to answer questions about the department's approval of New Living Word in Ruston to participate in the state's expanded voucher program.

The school did not have the facilities, teachers or technology to accommodate the 315 students the state approved them to accept. New Living Word was accepted in compliance with the state's approval, which did not include site visits. Questions to the department and an email obtained by The News-Star support the department's initial statements that it "left it up to the parents" to determine if a site met their needs.

Members of the Senate committee were concerned this school was an indication of big problems in the state's voucher program.

On Tuesday, before the hearing on Wednesday, White corresponded with Plotkin and Palmieri through their personal email accounts. The communications were obtained by The News-Star after they made their way into the state's email system.

"I'd like to create a news story about 'the next phase' of determining seats in schools before (Sen. Ed) Murray creates an additional story for us tomorrow," White writes to Plotkin and Palmieri. "I'd also like to take some air out of the room on the floor tomorrow and to give (Rep.) Steve (Carter, House education committee chair) some cover."

In the next day's hearing, Murray was one of several senators who asked pointed questions about the approval process.

The "next phase," which included visits to the schools and was announced to the committee, did not appear anywhere before White's email to Plotkin and Palmieri. Letters to accepted schools did not include notification that the acceptances were preliminary, but after the hearing, the state's website was changed to reflect the "due diligence" process, which would now include visits.

Committee hearing

In a Senate committee hearing on Tuesday, prior to White's May 30 appearance, Deputy Education Superintendent Erin Bendilly was the first to mention the state's plans for "more due diligence" and "more steps" when questioned about the news story. However, she was dismissed by Murray and told to return the next day with specific answers to his questions. She accompanied White on May 30.

In the email, White discusses how he will create the news story by releasing a communication to schools regarding a timeline for student assignment.

"This will allow us to kill multiple birds with one stone," White writes. "It would allow us to talk through the process with the media, muddying up a narrative they're trying to keep black and white."

In his testimony on May 30, White said the letter to the schools concerning the due diligence process "was planned for some time."

"What we said was we're going to approve you," White told the committee. "We're going to announce the number you said you could serve so as to give parents the quickest information possible, but then we also said, we are going to go back to you if you're one of our larger schools and do a review."

The letter that went to schools upon their approval to participate and obtained by The News-Star congratulated them for being a part of the program and gave them instructions for marketing the school and accepting applications. There was no mention of further review or further steps in the application process.

As White's Senate hearing approached, legislators heard from disgruntled constituents about the swift passage of the education reform measures, including the scholarship program, and appeared to be looking for a way to slow down its implementation.

Discussions among legislators included failing to approve the MFP, the state's education funding formula, to slow down the process. White also addresses this in his email.

"It would also allow us to take some of the edge off the remaining days of the session," he writes. "And it would chill out some of our friends, who aren't being very helpful on the MFP by letting them know we're thinking of the 'criteria for participation.'"

When contacted for comment about the email, White questioned how it was obtained.

"As we were about to launch the second part of the enrollment process we were planning how to announce it publicly," he said later.

White and the department's legal counsel contend the document is not public record.

Email concerns

Sen. Bob Kostelka, R- West Monroe, and Murray, D-New Orleans, both expressed concerns Sunday about the email between White, Plotkin and Palmieri.

"I'm not a bit surprised at this clandestine contact," Kostelka said. "He was planning on how to CYA before he got to our committee, obviously. This is the first time that he said this was preliminary, not final and they were going to do due diligence."

"This whole thing was portrayed as giving the children a better opportunity so it doesn't surprise me that the administration was trying to do something to block that information," Murray said. "I know that the administration was not prepared to answer questions and the answers they gave were not forthcoming about the voucher program."

Emails and information obtained for this article were provided as the result of The News-Star's extensive public records requests relating to the scholarship approval process, New Living Word School and The News-Star's email archives for background provided by the department for other articles.