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:
EMAILS REVEAL VOUCHER SCHEME
11:15 PM, Jul. 1, 2012 |
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.
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.
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.
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.