John White Seems To Be as Confused as I AM!

Re-posted from Dr. Mercedes Schneider's blog.   Note to those following this closely.  White said that PARCC had been contracted through a single-source contract with Data Recognition Corporation as an amendment.  According to this blog New Mexico issues an RFP ON BEHALF OF ALL THE PARCC STATES!  

http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/louisiana-annual-tests-tied-up-in-the-new-mexico-courts/

Louisiana “Annual Tests” Tied Up in the New Mexico Courts?

June 29, 2014

June 18, 2014, was an interesting day in Louisiana politics and education. (I realize these two are now one and the same, but humor me.)

One event of June 18 was Governor Bobby Jindal’s decision to suspend Louisiana’s involvement in PARCC because Louisiana State Superintendent John White, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE), and the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) all failed to follow proper contractual procurement of Louisiana’s so-called “contract” with the Partnership for Assessment of College and Careers (PARCC) tests associated with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Jindal suspended money to be paid to PARCC for the 2014-15 tests and required that proper bidding be followed in procuring bids for the next Louisiana assessment contract.

He also charged LDOE and BESE to follow proper bidding for Louisiana assessments, which means properly advertising requests for proposals (RFP) so that testing companies might competitively bid for Louisiana’s assessment contract.

(There’s more to the June 18, 2014 Jindal-White-LDOE-BESE story, which I have written about here, and here, and here, and here.)

Now, here’s what is funny:

June 18, 2014, also happened to be an important date in the case involving Pearson, the American Institute of Research (AIR), and PARCC.

Allow me to offer some background:
In May 2014, AIR filed a suit in New Mexico state court against PARCC for allegedly tailoring its RFP in favor of education and testing giant, Pearson.

On May 27, 2014, New Mexico State Judge Sarah Singleton granted AIR’s petition that the RFP process awarding Pearson the PARCC contract be reconsidered, and in the meantime, she suspended Pearson’s proceeding with the PARCC contract:

…Judge Sarah Singleton put a hold on the contract, citing that AIR had indeed filed its protest in a timely fashion.

“They should not have relied on the easy canard of untimeliness,” Singleton said during the May 27 hearing in Santa Fe according to transcripts. “So for those reasons, the appeal is granted. This case is remanded with instructions to delay any further processing of the contract until this protest can be timely heard and determined on its merits.”

When asked by counsel for the State if the [Pearson-PARCC] contract could go forward in the meantime, Singleton denied the request. [Emphasis added.]

Singleton stopped Pearson’s development of PARCC assessments until the New Mexico state purchasing agent could formally consider the matter:
The parties at odds over a major contract to perform testing aligned with the Common Core State Standards have been given until June 18 to make their case in writing to New Mexico state officials charged with ruling on the dispute.

In a letter sent Monday (June 2, 2014), the state purchasing agent for New Mexico, Lawrence O. Maxwell, said by that date (June 18) he will review the merits of a protest filed by the American Institutes for Research over a broad, common-core contract awarded to Pearson. …
In his letter, Maxwell said that officials at Pearson and New Mexico’s department of education, would be given the right to respond to the AIR’s protest by June 18. AIR would then have one week after that to respond to what the other two entities have to say.

There won’t be a public hearing on the case, Maxwell said. Instead, “the decision of the state purchasing agent will be based entirely on the written record.” [Emphasis added.]
So, on June 18– the date that Jindal suspended Louisiana’s dealings with PARCC– Pearson’s development of PARCC assessments was also suspended pending decisions regarding PARCC’s RFP.
June 18 has come and gone; the week following has also come and gone with no formal word yet regarding Maxwell’s decision. However, here is where Maxwell’s decision might lead:
New Mexico state law says that once a decision is made by the state procurement agent or office, a party can appeal that decision in the courts. So the battle over the PARCC contract could be a fairly protracted one, if all the parties in play pursue all of their options. [Emphasis added.]
In short, the issue of PARCC development might not be resolved in time to develop PARCC. We’ll see.

Let’s bring home the irony, folks:

Even as White and BESE President Chas Roemer are both pushing for PARCC, PARCC development remains suspended upon order of the New Mexico courts.

Perhaps Roemer should add another agenda item to the July 1, 2014, BESE meeting.

I look forward to hearing Roemer and White explain how Louisiana’s “annual tests” (he doesn’t like to say, “PARCC”) are tied up in the New Mexico court system.

_______________________________________________________________
Like my writing? Read my newly-released ed “reform” whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education
NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE.

"I have lost faith in the PTA," says Parent

This comment was made by a PTA Mom in response to a blog by Diane Ravitch.  In her blog, Diane relays the thoughts of Peter Greene on U.S.Ed Sec. Arne Duncan's speech at the National PTA Conference.   I have re-posted Peter's statement after the Mom's comment.  

Note:  The Gates Foundation awarded a couple million $$ to the National PTA specifically to promote the Common Core Initiative.  Ever since I heard that I have wondered if the folks at the National PTA level had a clue about Common Core, surveyed their members,  or if they normally just accept money from any source. 
http://dianeravitch.net/2014/02/07/ny-pta-parents-outraged-by-ccss-but/

PTA mom
I was at that PTA convention in Texas and I bit my tongue through his entire speech. I wanted to throw up. I have lost faith in the PTA. While I love what PTA does at a local level for our schools, I am sickened by what I see at the state and National PTA levels. Our voices as members have been sold out to corporate interests, and the top leadership is out of touch with parents today. Most of the top leaders dont even have children in public schools anymore so they think we are overreacting about the excessive testing and problems with common core. The leaders enjoy the power and prestige of their office and won’t listen to parents and teachers.

Even more alarming, the general meetings at the national PTA convention were sponsored by Discover Card, Microsoft, and Pearson. During the general meetings, attendees were forced to sit through 15 minute commercials about their corporations and hear about their “partnerships” with PTA. The week before the convention, delegates received emails from PTA with advertisements for Pearson, telling us to be sure to stop by Pearson’s booth in the exhibit hall. How much did PTA get to spam our inboxes with marketing? We paid a lot of money to attend that convention, I don’t appreciate my email address being sold like that, especially to Pearson.

******

http://dianeravitch.net/2014/06/29/peter-greene-the-arne-duncan-drinking-game/

Peter Greene proves himself a man of infinite patience. In this post, he analyzes and deconstructs a speech that Arne Duncan gave to the annual meeting of the PTA.

He writes:

“Arne opens up his speech as pretty much anybody would (Glad to be here! Your organization is great! Let’s here it for your leaders!) and then moves on to tales of his children’s schooling. Their experience was not the typical 25-30 desks in a row. His son got to work ahead in math because, technology. His daughter got to attend a constitutional convention and Civil War day.
[Duncan says]: “But it’s those kinds of opportunities that I think are so special. And why are those experiences so important? Because I think all of us – all of us as parents – want our children to be inspired, to be challenged, to be active participants in their own learning.

“This is not the last time that Arne will say something that is true, but also completely disconnected from the kind of schooling promoted by his department’s policies. I’m pretty sure we can make it a drinking game; every time Arne says something that would make a great basis for educational policy, but US DOE actually does the opposite–drink! Do I need to point out that Arne’s kids attend a school that remains untouched by the policies that are being inflicted on the rest of us?”
See if you can actually wade through this speech.


y WebsteroidsPeter Greene proves himself a man of infinite patience. In this post, he analyzes and deconstructs a speech that Arne Duncan gave to the annual meeting of the PTA. 

He writes:

“Arne opens up his speech as pretty much anybody would (Glad to be here! Your organization is great! Let’s here it for your leaders!) and then moves on to tales of his children’s schooling. Their experience was not the typical 25-30 desks in a row. His son got to work ahead in math because, technology. His daughter got to attend a constitutional convention and Civil War day.

[Duncan says]: “But it’s those kinds of opportunities that I think are so special. And why are those experiences so important? Because I think all of us – all of us as parents – want our children to be inspired, to be challenged, to be active participants in their own learning.

“This is not the last time that Arne will say something that is true, but also completely disconnected from the kind of schooling promoted by his department’s policies. I’m pretty sure we can make it a drinking game; every time Arne says something that would make a great basis for educational policy, but US DOE actually does the opposite–drink! Do I need to point out that Arne’s kids attend a school that remains untouched by the policies that are being inflicted on the rest of us?”

See if you can actually wade through this speech.

For Common Core, Same is Good

Re-posted from Peter Greene's blog, Carmudgucation!

curmudgucation.blogspot.com/2014/06/ccss-schooling-for-wretched-people-in.html?spref=tw


CCSS: Schooling for Wretched People in a Miserable World

The Council of the Great City Schools (yet another group apparently set up to make money by shilling for the Core) has created a marvelous promotional video for the Core. Done in the style of those high-speed marker-drawing videos that the interwebs love, and narrated by a possible-non-caucasian lady narrator, it does a fabulous job of distilling the world view embedded in the Common Core complex.

I'm not going to break it down second by second. Instead, lets look at some of the assumptions built right into the program

Education Is A Single Staircase

The central image of the video is the stairway. The stairway is a single path, always heading upward. It should be exactly the same for everyone-- in fact, every "problem" that the video brings up is visualized as ways in which two separate sets of steps aren't exactly the same. Differences are bad. We feel so strongly about this that we even lie about how the new CCSS staircase is just like the international staircase, because Same is Good.

It's a Dog Eat Dog World

"Like it or not," says the video grimly, the world is all about measuring and competition. We see athletic winners blocks with big piles of money going to the top spot. The world is all about competition. Here is a cartoon American competing with cartoon grads from Shanghai and look-- the Shanghai grads are getting all the money.

So it's clear that not only is life all about competition, but there is only one way of keeping score-- and that's with money.

But, Plateaus

The video highlights one of the oddly self-negating qualities of the Core Complex. Our students need to compete, but we've also got plateaus on the steps where we will gather all the students and make sure they're all on the same step. So it's like a race-- but a race where at the end of every lap, everyone has to sit and wait until all the runners have caught up.

Measures Are For the Fatherland, Not the Child

The video makes it clear that one of our big problems is that the different staircases, different tests and different measures make it hard for the Supervisory Other to see what's going on. I actually appreciate the honesty in this point of view-- it certainly beats the usual line that students and their teachers are somehow too boneheaded to know how the student is doing.

But here it's clear. They don't need to know. It's the bosses, the overlords, the fatherland, the high potentates of business and government-- these are the people who need a good, solid dependable report on how well the education system is doing and what kind of product it's churning out.


This video is worth watching because it captures just how small and meager and bleak is the world envisioned by the reformsters. Our students are to all toil away on exactly the same path, with exactly the same steps, to exactly the same destination, where the only measure of their success or worth in this upward rat race will be how much money they get. And that education, as flat and uninspiring as it is, is not being provided for the benefit of the students, but to benefit the uberclass that runs the schools and the factories and the government, the same uberclass to whom the students and the schools are accountable.

What a miserable joyless de-humanizing version of education. What a sad model of a pointless life for wretched people in a miserable world.

Pulling Back the Curtain of the Louisiana Charter School Experiment

This post is reblogged from The New Orleans Independent Media..  It is a must read.  The writer is anonymous (includes his/her email for contact) but because of the citations supporting the piece, I have chosen to publish it here.  My information, research and experience back up these claims. 

New Orleans Independent Media Center


Original article is at http://neworleans.indymedia.org/news/2009/07/14120.php Print comments.
Who's profiting from NOLA charter schools?
The Recovery School District has announced intentions to convert four “still failing” New Orleans public schools to “transition” charter schools: Drew, Wicker, Gregory, and Carver Elementaries. These traditional NOPS schools will be phased out by not accepting new students, while a new charter school will open in the same building, starting with lower grades and adding grades each year. (1) This creates two classes of students, teachers, staff, and types of governance on each campus. Additionally, multiple non-charter NOPS/RSD public school communities are saying that they have been recently told by RSD that they are now closing, consolidating, or relocating again. The Thurgood Marshall community, a prominent traditional Orleans Parish public school now operated by RSD, has just been told that Marshall is being closed entirely to turn the historic building over to a charter that has some of the lowest scores in the district. (2) Returning students, teachers, and staff have been told they may re-apply to the new schools but no one is given any assurance that they will be accepted and therefore have a place for this fall. None of these changes were discussed with the public in the multi-million dollar School Facilities Master Plan that was forced through by State Department of Education Superintendent Paul Pastorek and rush-approved by the outgoing Orleans Parish School Board in December 2008, only 5 months ago. (3)

There is no such thing as an all-charter district anywhere else in the country. This experiment has gone too far. There is not adequate oversight or quality controls in place. Many New Orleans communities do not know what is going on in charter and RSD schools in our own areas. RSD has been systematically keeping its non-charter schools unstable by continuous personnel and campus changes, “dumping” students, shorting supplies, unethical management and cronyism, fiscal mismanagement, and heavy-handed discipline that expects every New Orleans child to quickly become a college-bound factory model student. Families are left to fend for ourselves with no more neighborhood schools, and an ‘if you don’t like it you can leave’ attitude from the charter boards, far from the accountability the charters are supposed to deliver. Teaching conditions are very difficult with amateur charter boards, no oversight, and no job security whatsoever. It is known in the community that both RSD and charter schools will fire you if you so much as attend a meeting that questions them, or challenge the managers in any way. In the way it has been implemented in New Orleans, the idea of “charter based reform” is meaningless because educators, students, and families have no security in a feedback loop that could create changes in our education system that would meaningfully better our lives. (4)

Top level New Orleans charter school proponents act as though a whole generation of our students and educators are disposable. Only in Louisiana are public charter schools allowed to have academic admission requirements. Researchers say this is a violation of state and federal laws. (5) Pursuit of ever-higher test scores is all consuming and our creative traditions are at risk. Reports of charter and RSD expulsions are widespread throughout our community for children and families who don’t fit the ideal model. Our children affected by Katrina and so many other challenges have not experienced the period of stability and nurturing they require to become stable and positive young adults. (6) Charter schools are not attending to the health of our society as a whole because they are all competing against each other for resources. A design for an all-charter New Orleans public school district is a ruthless endgame that will continue to enrich and maintain a few in power while devastating our young people of color and keep blood spilling in our streets until we stop it.

People are asking for information: How are our public schools being given by Pastorek to new, non-community-based organizations with no financial history, and how are these governing boards all being privately selected by one well-connected non-profit? Students, families, teachers, and staff at the changing schools were told only after the decisions were made and have had no voice in this process. (7) This is happening despite Louisiana law which requires a vote of approval

by two-thirds of the faculty and staff, and the majority of the parents or guardians of pupils enrolled in the school for conversion of a pre-existing public school to a Type 5 charter. (8) How is the law being circumvented? Who is behind this?

This past March, Leslie Jacobs, a former member of both the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) and Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), was featured on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.” The popular news show called Jacobs a “reformer” and “booster for the education revolution.” Similarly, last December, Jacobs was featured in New Orleans Magazine. In that article, the 49-year-old insurance executive was described as a “bulldog,” who for decades has tirelessly fought for our city’s public schools. (9) In the New Orleans community, she is also remembered as a member of the racially divisive NOPS board of the 1980s-90s, whose family made some of its fortune by selling insurance to the district. Jacobs was very active behind the scenes in pre-Katrina destabilizing power struggles at NOPS, and she heavily influenced the enactments of school takeover and charter school “reform” laws. Currently, Jacobs is Executive Director of “Educate Now,” a new non-profit she created with her husband, Scott Jacobs. Their website calls Ms. Jacobs the driving force behind the creation of the Recovery School District (RSD) and the “architect of Louisiana’s accountability reform.” Educate Now’s mission is to make the charter ‘reforms’ permanent. (10) In 2008, Leslie Jacobs “spearheaded the ‘504ward’ movement to engage the young movers and shakers who are arriving in New Orleans with dual aspirations of sparking social change and advancing their careers.” This Spring, ‘504ward’ held a $100,000 competition for ideas to retain the new demographic group attracted by the “opportunities” created by the Katrina disaster. (11)

In 2006, while Jacobs was still a member of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, its Recovery School District connected with an organization named “New Schools for New Orleans” (NSNO) to be RSD’s primary non-profit partner in New Orleans. (12) NSNO is housed in the Cowen Center at Tulane University, and they decide who gets grants for local public charter schools. NSNO’s non-profit web has also monopolized teacher and principal recruitment, training, and placement, and the provisions of all necessary services to charter schools. In the past three and a half years, they have controlled at least $17 million of federal, state, and private foundation dollars designated for these purposes, processed at least 300 teachers, and have direct control of eight charters, including the four new highly questionable ones just announced for the RSD conversions. (13) Leslie Jacob’s brother and multi-million dollar business partner, Steven Rosenthal, is the treasurer of NSNO’s non-profit board. (14)

Who else is behind the curtain?

- The company that Paul Pastorek hired to do the School Facilities Master Plan is Concordia.


- The owner of Concordia is Steven Bingler. (15) Steven Bingler’s wife is Linda Usdin. (16) Linda Udsin is Tom Usdin’s sister (17), and Sarah Usdin is Tom Usdin’s wife. (18)


- Sarah Usdin is therefore Steven Bingler’s sister-in-law, and she is also the President/Director of New Schools New Orleans. (19)

- RSD is now attempting to phase out NOPS school Francis Gregory Elementary and install
Pride College Prep in its campus. (1) This charter was incorporated by New Schools New
Orleans staff in August 2008 (20) and Scott Jacobs is Chairman of its governing board. (21)

This is not the model America wants to copy. Despite massive failures and incestuous corruption, charter schools have been given the keys to our kingdom. What we want to know today is this: How much is enough? When will it stop? What will it take for people to see what is going on and take action?

CITATIONS

(1) http://www.doe.state.la.us/lde/comm/pressrelease.aspx?PR=1262
RSD Announces Charter Matches at Four Transformation School Sites LA Dept. Education Press Release 3/26/09
(2)http://www.researchonreforms.org/Shared%20Documents/Forms/AllItems.aspx
Center for Action Research on Reforms – The Post-Katrina Saga of Thurgood Marshall
(3) http://www.sfmpop.org/ School Facilities Master Plan for Orleans Parish website
(4) http://www.legis.state.la.us/lss/lss.asp?doc=80969
Louisiana Revised Statute 17:3972. Intent and purpose
(5)http://www.researchonreforms.org/Shared%20Documents/Forms/AllItems.aspx
Center for Action Research on Reforms – Equal Access Denied
(6) http://tr.youtube.com/watch?v=Kc7ohBNg3zk&feature=channel_page
YouTube video – Cohen Fight
(7) http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2009/03/recovery_school_district_to_cl.html
Recovery School District to close 4 schools, shift pupils The Times-Picayune 3/6/09
(8) http://www.legis.state.la.us/lss/lss.asp?doc=80974 Louisiana Revised Statutes Title 17
PART III. Chartering Process, Revision, and Renewal: RS 17:3983
(9) http://www.myneworleans.com/New-Orleans-Magazine/December-2008/Leslie-Jacobs/
Leslie Jacobs Interview
(10) http://www.educatenow.net/ Educate Now! Website
(11) http://www.504ward.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1&Itemid=2
504ward website
(12) http://www.sharingwitness.org/education_youth/new_schools_for_new_orleans/
“Sharing Witness” article by Sarah Usdin July 5, 2007
(13) http://newschoolsforneworleans.org/ NSNO website
(14)http://www400.sos.louisiana.gov/cgibin?rqstyp=crpdtlC&rqsdta=36161239N
Secretary of State Corporations Database Charter/Organization ID: 36161239N: New Schools for New Orleans, Inc.
(15)http://www.concordia.com/home/article/17/Steven_B_Bingler%2C_AIA%2C_REFP%2C_NCARB%2C_Founder Concordia Website
(16)http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:IXHdAn0D6zAJ:http://www.readonebook.org/files/FACES_OF_KATRINA%255B1%255D.doc+%22steven+bingler%22+%22linda+usdin%22&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us FACES OF KATRINA: A Discussion Guide for the 2007 One Book/ One
Community Summer Selection, Breach Of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death
of a Great American City by Jed Horne
(17) http://files.usgwarchives.org/la/orleans/obits/1/u-01.txt
Entry # 000124: Obituary of Cecile Weil Usdin
(18)http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:Ku7SvDSLr7sJ:katrina.jwa.org/content/vault/Annual_Report_Final_d09c81985c.pdf+tom+and+sarah+usdin+family+%22new+orleans%22&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
Jewish Federation of New Orleans Annual Report 2006-2007
(19) http://newschoolsforneworleans.org/aboutus_ourteam.php NSNO website – About us
(20)http://www400.sos.louisiana.gov/cgibin?rqstyp=crpdtlC&rqsdta=36818172N
Secretary of State Corporations Database – Charter/Organization ID: 36818172N –
Pride College Preparatory Academy
(21) http://www.nolaparentsguide.org/ New Orleans Parents’ Guide to public schools, page 52.


LOUISIANA REVISED STATUTES: TITLE 17: EDUCATION
CHAPTER 42: CHARTER SCHOOL DEMONSTRATION PROGRAMS LAW

(4) http://www.legis.state.la.us/lss/lss.asp?doc=80969
17:3972. Intent and purpose
A. It is the intention of the legislature in enacting this Chapter to authorize experimentation by city and parish school boards by authorizing the creation of innovative kinds of independent public schools for pupils. Further, it is the intention of the legislature to provide a framework for such experimentation by the creation of such schools, a means for all persons with valid ideas and motivation to participate in the experiment, and a mechanism by which experiment results can be analyzed, the positive results repeated or replicated, if appropriate, and the negative results identified and eliminated. Finally, it is the intention of the legislature that the best interests of at-risk pupils shall be the overriding consideration in implementing the provisions of this Chapter.
B.(1) The purposes of this Chapter shall be to provide opportunities for educators and others interested in educating pupils to form, operate, or be employed within a charter school with each such school designed to accomplish one or more of the following objectives:
(a) Improve pupil learning and, in general, the public school system.
(b) Increase learning opportunities and access to quality education for pupils.
(c) Encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods and a variety of governance, management, and administrative structures.
(d) Require appropriate assessment and measurement of academic learning results.
(e) Account better and more thoroughly for educational results.
(f) Create new professional opportunities for teachers and other school employees, including the opportunity to be responsible for the learning program at the school site.
(2) It is not a purpose of this Chapter to permit establishment of a charter school to be used as the means of keeping open an existing public school that otherwise would be closed. Such a circumstance, however, shall not preclude approval of a proposed charter that otherwise fulfills a purpose of this Chapter and for which the proposal clearly demonstrates that the educational program proposed to be offered will improve the achievement levels of the students enrolled in that school.

(8) http://www.legis.state.la.us/lss/lss.asp?doc=80974
PART III. CHARTERING PROCESS, REVISION, AND RENEWAL: 17:3983 Chartering process by type; eligibility; limitations; faculty approval; parental approval
C. (1)(a) Approval by the faculty and staff who are certified by the state board of a preexisting school proposed to be converted to a charter school requires a favorable vote of two-thirds of the members of such faculty and staff, voting together each with one vote, at the preexisting school at an election held for such purpose. The number needed for approval shall be determined by the number of eligible employees assigned to such school on October first preceding the election. The election shall be held by secret ballot.
(b) Such an election may be repeated in any school for approval of the same or a different charter proposal; however, such an election may occur no more often than once in any school year.
Approval by the parents or guardians of pupils attending a preexisting school proposed to be converted to a charter school requires a favorable vote of the majority of the parents or guardians of pupils enrolled in the school at the time of the election who are voting, provided the number of votes cast equals at least fifty percent of the number of pupils. There shall be one vote for each pupil enrolled in the school which may be cast by one parent or guardian for each pupil.

Louisiana Teachers Believe It Is Their Professional Responsibility To Expose "Common Chaos"

I forwarded the teachers' letter to the editor submission to all district superintendents because THEY have ultimate responsibility for the educators and children in their schools!

To Superintendents:

It is time for teachers to speak out in spite of intimidation and threats of professional discipline both real and perceived.  These three teachers have joined others here in St. Tammany who have taken that step because their professional conscience demands they advocate for their students.  Will you encourage YOUR teachers to express their concerns? 

This letter to the editor was submitted and distributed for public consumption.  I felt it was important to share with you.  

Common Chaos

By now we have all heard the claims that Common Core “State” Standards (CCSS) purport to achieve for our children. Advocates of CCSS have been quick to insult the opposition, accusing them of being conspiracy theorists, tea party affiliates, extremists, religious zealots, ineffective and irresponsible teachers, or political game players. But what if no evidence supports any of these accusations?

Teachers and parents have valid concerns with CCSS. We understand the connection of standards with standardized tests and curriculum. As teachers have been implementing these standards over the past two years, numerous concerns have surfaced. Educational leaders respond, “Stay the course,” with no modifications allowed. Their only remedy is more training and resources, neither of which addresses the actual concerns.

The recurring local and national concerns experienced with CCSS are:
·         Developmentally inappropriate standards K-2nd grades
·         Students unable to master the standards according to the proscribed pacing
·         Little time for mastery of basic math facts, with over-emphasis on visual math strategies
·         Too light on basic phonics, with over-emphasis on whole language
·         Parents alienated from helping children with their homework
·         Students exhibiting unnecessary, unhealthy levels of stress and frustration.

As professional educators we request:
·         Developmentally-appropriate high standards
·         Implementation of researchedtested and proven educational practices
·         A balanced approach to instruction (more phonics and basic math facts)
·         Math strategies and critical thinking skills to supplement, not replace, instruction
·         Flexibility to individualize instruction for individual students, and challenge students within a healthy stress zone
·         Acceptance of students’ uniqueness, rather than attempted standardization
·         More autonomy in developing lessons
·         The use of data to guide, not define, us

Our educational future is too important to blindly accept controversial, experimental education reform. Our children do not deserve to be treated as guinea pigs. If CCSS were as effective as 

claimed, why are they the center of national debate?

As professional educators, it would be irresponsible to NOT bring our concerns to public attention.

Teachers:        Marla Baldwin, Calcasieu Parish
                        Deanna Russell, Beauregard Parish
                        Leslie Truax, Calcasieu Parish



"If a child struggles to clear the high bar at five feet, she will not become a "world class" jumper because someone raised the bar to six feet and yelled "jump higher," or if her “poor” performance is used to punish her coach." - - CommonSense

"I believe in standardizing automobiles. I do not believe in standardizing human beings. Standardization is a great peril which threatens American culture.”—— Albert Einstein

Revisiting LDOE "Crimes and Misdemeanors"

In the aftermath of Governor Jindal's proclamation that John White/LDOE/BESE must halt their intention to contract for PARCC assessments, and in light of his additional announcement that LDOE contracts and procedures will be audited, I returned to past concerns that I have expressed regarding  what I consider to be a most important problem - the calculation of school performance scores. 

School Performance Scores are calculated by a metric controlled solely by John White.  White has been accused of manipulating those calculations for several years.  SPS scores have monetary consequences for schools and involve both federal and state taxpayer dollars.  It is inconceivable to me that warnings and pleas by me and several other Louisiana teachers, backed up with evidence, have been ignored by all parties noted.  

Here is one example of circumstances I encountered back in January of 2013.  You decide if this doesn't represent a clear violation of trust. John White has threatened legal action (paid for with taxpayer money and education dollars) if Gov. Jindal follows through on his proclamation to halt PARCC.  I hope he does push his luck so that the truth can be revealed during those proceedings.  I really can't imagine that White would be that foolish.  

*******
Jan. 12, 2013 Letter I sent to all district superintendents 


Ladies and Gentlemen:
Tuesday, Jan. 8,  I attended the Superintendents' Advisory Council meeting in Baton Rouge.  Superintendent John White presented and discussed two documents as per the agenda. http://www.boarddocs.com/la/bese/Board.nsf/files/93QSAP713F3C/$file/SAC_Agenda_0113.pdf
Prior to that meeting, I sent you several documents representing analyses of the Louisiana VAM as used for COMPASS, SPS score inflation, and scoring bias authored by Dr. Mercedes Schneider and Herbert Bassett.  I and others present at the SAC meeting had expected to offer valuable testimony regarding Supt. White's proposals for "adjustments" to COMPASS and SPS calculation. 
Unfortunately, Chairman Faulk refused to accept public testimony as required by the state public meetings laws. http://www.boarddocs.com/la/bese/Board.nsf/files/93QSAP713F3C/$file/SAC_Agenda_0113.pdf   As a result, SAC "received" the documents and they will be considered this Tuesday at the BESE meeting.  
After the SAC meeting I requested, in person at Supt. White's office,  copies of the two documents (PowerPts) as  presented by Supt. White at the meeting.  None was proferred.  I followed up by immediately filing a FOIA with LDE.  In spite of repeated requests, I have been denied access to these public documents.

* * * * * *
Ms. Barrios,
Please be advised that the requested documents are not final and are shared with SAC in anticipation of the final versions being presented to BESE.
In other words, the requested documents are merely drafts, not final documents.
Joan E. Hunt
General Counsel
Louisiana Department of Education
* * * * * * *
Characterizing the documents as "drafts" does not exempt them from the Freedom of Information 
Act.  Further, the substance of these documents were "received" and "approved" by SAC based on the documents.  BESE will meet Tuesday and the public will not have these documents or a record of the SAC meeting to prepare for study or testimony.  
I am including here more information regarding Superintendent White's confusing explanations for inconsistencies in SPS reports.  Problems with COMPASS and SPS profounding affect you, your school system, your system employees, the students and the public.  I ask that you consider asking serious questions about policies being pushed by LDE and that you request BESE  to call a moratorium on further use or changes in policy until these questions have been satisfactorily answered.  
My previous correspondence with members of SAC have not received the courtesy of a single response.  
Respectfully,

 

Re posted from Mike Deshotel's blog:

Louisiana Educator


Posted: 19 Jun 2014 11:57 AM PDT
Governor Jindal took several executive actions Wednesday, June 18 to pull Louisiana out of the Common Core State Standards. This included a challenge to the legality of the state contract for PARCC testing which he states was done in violation of the competitive bidding law, and a letter to the National Governor's Association which is one of the sponsors of the CCSS, canceling Louisiana' s participation. This post by Mercedes Schneider includes the original executive orders produced by Jindal.

Superintendent White who apparently has higher ambitions and is ready to move to a bigger state or to the federal Dept. of Education, has openly challenged Jindal. Chas Roemer who wants to parley his father's good name to propel himself into higher office is also making a big fuss.

All of this is causing a big problem for teachers and administrators who have been bullied into implementing CCSS along with every other whim of our state and federal education bosses. There is no doubt that our education system is no longer a local operation run by school boards, parents and teachers but a puppet of the state and federal dictators who have determined that everything related to education must be decided by standardized testing and school privatization.  I want my readers to have a look at the real results this test mania has produced. This next section gives an independent assessment of the true academic gains by our students as a result of the education "deforms" of Jindal, Pastorek, and White.

Louisiana Academic Gains Since Hurricane Katrina

Comparison with the National Average: A major question remains about the Louisiana Recovery District and also the entire Louisiana public school system: Has there really been dramatic or even significant progress in student achievement in the RSD and Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina? State testing seems to indicate that an increased percentage of students are now reading and doing math on grade level or above. But are these gains real, or just an improvement in test taking skills and/or a result of teaching to the test? One way to explore this question is to compare Louisiana student performance to the national average student performance. (Yes, there already exists a test that compares Louisiana to all other states, contrary to what the CCSS and PARCC promoters would have you believe!) We will also compare the progress of Louisiana students from 2005 to the present compared with the progress of students in all other states. The following comparisons are based on the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress testing program known as NAEP:
NAEP tests students at the 4thand 8thgrades every two years in math and reading using a scientific sample of students in each state. We can use these results to get a comparison for Louisiana student performance to all 50 states and the District of Columbia. There is no data however, to allow a breakout of data for each school system in a state.

The following analysis is derived from the spreadsheet below: In reviewing the NAPE test results for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, we find that for the 2005 school year, students in Louisiana ranked 4thfrom the bottom of the rankings in 4thgrade math, 8thfrom the bottom in 4thgrade reading, 5thfrom the bottom in 8thgrade math and 7thfrom the bottom in 8thgrade reading. In some cases the Louisiana average score tied with one or more states.

For the 2013 school year, the ranking of Louisiana fell to 2ndfrom the bottom in 4thgrade math, 5thfrom the bottom in 4thgrade reading, 4thfrom the bottom in 8thgrade math, and 4thfrom the bottom in 8thgrade reading. Again, in some cases Louisiana tied with one or more states.

Even though the NAEP testing shows a small increase in the percentage of Louisiana students performing at the basic or above level from 2005 to 2013, compared to all the other states, Louisiana students have lost ground in that time period. Louisiana dropped one or more places in each of the 4 areas of comparison with the other states between 2005 and 2013. These comparisons challenge the LDOE claim that Louisiana students and RSD students have made significant progress since 2005.
Conclusion: The Louisiana Recovery District now ranks near the bottom of all districts in a state that is performing close to the bottom compared to all other states.  In addition, that ranking has fallen since 2005 in all categories of student performance. The RSD performance and the state performance compared to other states are not worth praising, and certainly should not be held up as a model for education reform for the entire nation.Also, it is clear that the policies of Jindal, Pastorek, and White which consist of shaming and blaming educators for factors influencing student performance over which they have no control, have produced basically zero results statewide. Was it really worth spending all these millions on standardized testing, taking over schools and converting them to unregulated charters, and turning our classrooms into  mostly drab test rehearsal torture chambers? 
Comparison of NAEP results for Louisiana Public Schools with 50 states and the District of Columbia
Grade & Sub.Av. LA Scale Score 2005% basicNat. Av. 2005LA ranking compared to 50 states and D.C. *
4th grade math23074%23747
4th grade reading20953%21743
8th grade math26859%27846
8th grade reading25364%26044

Av. LA Scale Score 2013% basicNat. av. 2013LA ranking compared to 50 states and D.C. *
4th grade math23175%24149
4th grade reading21056%22146
8th grade math27364%28447
8th grade reading25768%26647
* Note: In severalcases theranking ofLA tiedwith
one or more states.