(John) White Lies and Alibis

This letter was submitted to the press for consideration.

This is another unsolicited letter – from Anna Falcon Arthur, a physician and parent, in Thibodeaux, LA – expressing her own particular observations and concerns regarding Common Core.
In a “three-strikes-you’re out” format, Thibodeaux parent Dr. Arthurs  documents the actual facts related to several inconsistencies from the LA Dept. of Education and particularly from the LA State Superintendent:  1) federal and state laws dictate that curriculum must be locally controlled;  2) the fact that LA actually has received federal funds leading to federal control of LA public education (despite Supt. White’s and others’ claims that LA hasn’t received federal funding for these);  and 3) the fact that Supt. White has admitted that standardized test questions are changed each year (Supt. White won’t allow parents to see the tests claiming the questions are used repeatedly from year to year.)

On behalf of Dr. Arthurs,
Thank you,
Mary K. Bellisario, Coalition for Louisiana Public Education
In case there are any issues with opening the attachment, here is Dr. Arthurs’ letter:
Proponents for the Common Core Initiative have never supported their claims with facts. This could be due to the fact that there is little to no research or data to back up many of their unsubstantiated claims. Their elitist mentality and accompanying arrogance lead them to believe they can say whatever they want and the rest of us will just accept their premises. Parents have proven to be the fact checkers when faced with the false claims of Common Core proponents.

On December 22, 2011, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) awarded Louisiana $17.4 million in round three of Race to the Top (RTTT). RTTT was a federally funded competitive grant that required participating states to adopt national common standards before they were written (Common Core), national assessments (PARCC or SBAC), establish a state longitudinal data system for the collection and use of student data, and make changes in teacher accountability. Louisiana Supt. of Education John White has stated in public that Louisiana received no federal funds.  When asked what he did with the $17.4 million he says no money was received.   Senator Conrad Appel, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, recently said in an online chat that Louisiana received no RTTT money. Maybe they missed the press release from the U.S. DOE or they thought that no one would check the accuracy of their statements.  Strike one.

Three Federal laws state that the curriculum must be locally controlled.  Act 532 passed in the 2014 Legislature will insure that curriculum is locally controlled.  Even though John White has stated repeatedly that curriculum decisions will be left to local districts he also said in a May 1, 2012 LDOE bi-weekly newsletter," Moreover, once we fully transition from the current Louisiana GLE's to the Common Core State Standards - to be complete in 2014/2015 - the state will no longer produce a Louisiana-specific comprehensive curriculum." Strike two.

At the July 1st BESE meeting John White admitted that test questions in the state assessment tests are changed every year regardless of which company receives the testing contract. However, this contradicts his statements made earlier this spring to the Legislature when he insisted that parents should not be given a chance to review previously administered tests because the tests would have to be reworked since the department would have to create new questions? His statements change based on his audience and his intent.  Strike Three.

Mr. White believes that suing the Governor will bring clarity when he intentionally tried to circumvent the law in an effort to establish a contract with PARCC. State law was violated, and our Governor was within his rights to suspend PARCC and insist that BESE follow our laws. That is all the clarity needed.  It is time for Mr. White and some of the BESE members to issue an RFP (Request for Proposal) and move on.  Mr. White is creating more chaos with his legal threats. Lawsuits and lawyers will not 
bring clarity to this situation before school resumes in a few weeks.
How shall we bring order into the chaos created by John White?  Ask for his resignation! You’re Out!

Anna Falcon Arthurs
Thibodaux, LA
Mother of four

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