Louisiana Legislators - FIRST, DO NO HARM!

I am using this blog to respond to some disagreement and questions that were expressed regarding an opinion I posted on my Facebook page regarding a bill filed by Rep. Marcus Hunter (D).  I posted a blog written by another person with strong opinions regarding Hunter's HB 708 and added my comment as follows:

Another poorly thought out bill that are amazingly offered up by our Black Caucus that would further set back opportunities for our black students.
Although Rep. Hunter appears to be the sole sponsor of this HB 708, my reference to the Black Caucus reflects the fact that several other questionable bills have been filed by our African American legislators and that the group has taken a position in support of some of the so-called reforms leading to privatization of our public schools. 

My primary objections to HB 708 are based on these proposed additions to the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) scholarships:

Proposed law adds a requirement that the student pursue a degree or skill or occupational training that would qualify him for employment in a four or five star job, on a statewide basis, as defined by the Louisiana Workforce Commission. Further provides that a student shall remain eligible for an award if all other conditions of present law are met and if after the student enrolls in but before he completes the program of study such job is no longer defined as a four or five star job.


Proposed law provides that for an award recipient first enrolling in an eligible institution for or during the 2015-2016 academic year or thereafter, upon completion of a bachelor's or postgraduate degree, such former recipient of an award shall either reside in La for at least one year for each year of award he received or repay one year of award for each year he fails to meet this residency requirement. Requires any such recipient who loses eligibility to receive awards to repay amounts received.
While I think the use of the words "indentured servants" used in the blog I re-posted is rather strong, it got my attention and caused me to review this proposed legislation. In fact, this proposed legislation is not only harmful African American students, but to ALL students who qualify for the Scholarships but now have to face further obstacles just to take advantage of them.  It is particularly discouraging for those students who struggle academically and with other challenges like poverty, language limitations, learning disabilities or other difficult circumstances. 

This legislation is another example of the direction both K-12 and higher education have been going in reducing the importance of the extensive benefits of an educated society to a single outcome - workforce development.

 It also would seem to eliminate the CHOICE that reform claims to use as its chief marketing tool by narrowing the eligible field of employment to what the Louisiana Workforce Commission rates as four or five-star jobs.

 It also creates a chilling effect for students who might otherwise enthusiastically attempt to achieve some level of higher education but are dissuaded because of the spectre of "failure" in the event a plethora of circumstances could cause them to fall short of the required bachelor's degree or to seek gainful employment outside of the State of Louisiana.

My concerns about the position that the Black Caucus appears to be taking that support certain failing "reforms" that our State Superintendent of Education John White have instituted, with BESE approval, are best expressed in the words of several respected educators that I will quote in the next several blogs. 

Louisiana Business Owners - Do Not Be Misled!

An excellent post by singer-songwriter Ganey Arsement that I hope everyone in Louisiana will share with their friends associated with The Chambers of Commerce and business members who own businesses for which you are a customer.

Attention Business Owners: Your Reputation Is At Stake!

     For most of my life, even as a teenager, I was able to recognize the prestige that accompanied being a member of the Chamber of Commerce. Business owners who wanted to develop a reputation for themselves, build a larger client base and increase their business showed a lot of pride in being a member of their local Chamber.
     The Chamber of Commerce is a national organization with chapters in every state and sub-chapters, under the state chapters, in most larger cities. The Chamber offered benefits to it members that they couldn't possibly secure themselves as a small business such as insurance, group memberships, discount programs, etc. In addition, the Chamber engages in lobbying to help to secure favorable legislation that helps business owners, both small and large, be more successful. Great, right?
     Up until recently, the Chamber represented its members, well, but there is something very disturbing going on, and I don't think the majority of its members are onboard with it. In recent years, the Chamber made an extreme change in direction with its agenda. There is a massive movement in place to ride the Common Core train to prosperity by big business and special interest groups, nationwide. The movement is being funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation. Money is distributed freely to any organization willing to actively support and promote education reform. The Chamber of Commerce is in that movement.
     The Chamber is currently undergoing a re-branding. I believe, for two reasons. First, the general public won't realize that it is the Chamber that is engaged in this movement, and second, its members won't be aware of their activities. The new name for the Chamber is the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry aka LABI. Many of the sub-chapters have already changed their name, as well. The Chamber SWLA is now Alliance SWLA, and the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce is now Alliance CenLA.
     LABI, using its heavy cash flow from the Gates Foundation, operates a political action committee known as the Alliance for Better Classrooms, or ABC. This PAC engages in lobbying and dirty politics to promote the infiltration of our education system by Common Core and special interest groups, and it does this while boasting the full support of LABI, Alliance SWLA, Alliance CenLA, all other sub-chapters AND ALL OF THEIR MEMBERS.
     Now, I find it hard to believe that there are any business owners out there who don't know the level of attention that the Common Core issue has demanded. Never before has there been a resistance of this size from parents, teachers and their communities fighting to rid our schools of this atrocity. I know that our local business owners have children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors who have been affected by Common Core. It is time to stand up.
     Recently, in the current legislative session, ABC handed out stuffed unicorns to all of the legislators saying that "Unicorns are not real and neither is most of the things you've heard about Common Core." This is a blatant attempt to discredit all of the hard-work that we, the resistance, have put in to reveal the Common Core movement for what it is. They are saying that they, the special interest groups, know what is good for our children better than we do.


Business owners, members of the Chamber and Alliance, you have to let your voice be heard. 

1. Contact your chapter. Let them know that you do not support them. 
2. Visit the website below and ask them to remove any reference to your business. 
3. Contact the legislators below and inform them that you are a member of that organization and you do not support Common Core. 
4. Make a public statement on your website and all social media that you do not support Common Core.



  • Chairman Conrad Appel, Louisiana Senate Education
  • Ryan Aument, Pennsylvania State Representative 
  • Haley Barbour, Former Governor of Mississippi
  • Bill Bennett, Former U.S. Secretary of Education to President Ronald Reagan
  • Terry Branstad, Iowa Governor 
  • Jan Brewer, Former Governor Arizona
  • Jeb Bush, Former Governor of Florida
  • Steve Carter, Louisiana House Education Chairman
  • Carlos Curbelo, Miami-Dade School Board Member
  • Mitch Daniels, Amercian Academic Administrator & Former Governor of Indiana
  • Nathan Deal, Georgia Governor
  • John Engler, Former Governor of Michigan
  • Bill Frist, Former U.S. Senator
  • Dolores Gresham, Tennessee Senate Education Committee Chairman & Tennessee State Senator
  • F. Phillip Handy, President of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Excellence in Education
  • Bill Haslam, Tennessee Governor 
  • Mike Huckabee, Former Governor of Arkansas
  • Toni Jennings, Former Lt. Governor of Florida 
  • John Kasich, Ohio Governor 
  • John Legg, Florida Senate Education Chairman 
  • Tom Luna, Former Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction 
  • Susana Martinez, New Mexico Governor 
  • Matt Mead, Wyoming Governor 
  • Butch Otter, Idaho Governor 
  • Sonny Perdue, Former Governor of Georgia
  • Kraig Powell, Utah State Representative 
  • Condoleezza Rice, Former U.S. Secretary of State 
  • Bob Riley, Former Governor of Alabama 
  • Chas Roemer, BESE President 
  • Brian Sandoval, Nevada Governor 
  • Rick Scott, Florida Governor 
  • Rick Snyder, Michigan Governor 
  • Gerald Stebelton, Former Ohio House Education Committee Chairman 
  • Rick Snyder, Michigan Governor 
  • John White, Louisiana State Superintendent of Education


  • Albemarle
  • Alliance for Education
  • Baton Rouge Area Chamber
  • Black Alliance for Educational Options
  • Blueprint Louisiana
  • Bollinger Shipyards, Inc.
  • Bossier Chamber of Commerce
  • Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region
  • Cajun Industries, LLC
  • Cajun Maritime, LLC
  • Center for Development and Learning
  • CenturyLink
  • Chamber Southwest Louisiana
  • Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans
  • Committee of 100 Louisiana
  • Committee of 100 Shreveport-Bossier
  • Contech Engineered Solutions
  • Council for a Better Louisiana
  • Democrats for Education Reform
  • Dupre Logistics, LLC
  • Eastbank Collaborative of Charter Schools
  • Educate Now!
  • Education's Next Horizon
  • ExxonMobil
  • Fenstermaker
  • Fleur de Lis New Orleans Cuisine
  • Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce
  • Greater New Orleans, Inc.
  • Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce
  • Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce
  • ISC Constructors, LLC
  • Jefferson Business Council
  • Jefferson Chamber of Commerce
  • LA Association of Science Leaders
  • La Coste Consulting, LLC
  • Lincoln Builders, INC
  • Louisiana Association of Business & Industry
  • Louisiana Association of Independent Schools
  • Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools
  • Louisiana Association of School Librarians
  • Louisiana Association of Teachers of Mathematics
  • Louisiana Core Advocates Teachers
  • Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association
  • Louisiana Oil & Gas Association
  • Louisiana Science Teachers Association
  • Military Child Education Coalition
  • Monroe Chamber of Commerce
  • National Council of Jewish Women, Greater New Orleans Section
  • New Orleans Chamber
  • New Schools for Baton Rouge
  • New Schools for New Orleans
  • Noesis Data, LLC
  • Public Affairs Research Council
  • Red Stick Robotics
  • River Region Chamber of Commerce
  • Robert Evans, Con-Tech International
  • Roy O. Martin
  • Shell Oil Company
  • Shreveport-Bossier Business Alliance for Higher Education
  • South Louisiana Economic Council 
  • Sparkhound
  • Stand for Children Louisiana
  • Stirling Properties
  • Teach for America
  • The Achievement Network
  • The Brylski Company
  • The Cain Center for STEM Literacy
  • The New Teacher Project
  • TTD
  • United Way of Acadiana
  • United Way of Southeast Louisiana
  • Urban League of Greater New Orleans


  • Craig Barrett, Former Chairman & CEO, Intel Corporation
  • Chester E. Finn, Jr. President, Thomas B. Fordham Foundation; Former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Education
  • Bill Gates, Co-founder, Microsoft
  • Michael J. Petrilli, President, Thomas B. Fordham Institute
  • Michelle A. Rhee, Founder, StudentsFirst; Former Chancellor, District of Columbia public schools
  • Edward B. Rust, Jr., Chairman of the Board & CEO, State Farm Insurance Companies

Has Public Education Become a War!

Reblogged from : http://thewarreportonpubliced.com/2015/03/29/how-did-anti-public-school-corporate-reformers-become-the-dominant-force-in-education-reform/

The War Report on Public Education

Dr. James Avington Miller Jr

We here at War Report encourage our audience to listen to the series, read this synopsis, and respond in the comments section. We will have a new blog post from Deborah each week, a live internet radio show, and a podcast. We will address questions from our audience and we urge listeners and readers to please call in, respond to the blog post, and then listen and read ahead in preparation for next weeks show on the Common Core and the Corporate Ed Reform Agenda.
by Dr. Deborah Owens
How did anti-public school corporate reformers become the dominant force in education reform?  Here’s what I learned in researching and writing my book:
  • The campaign to end public education has been a decades long venture.  There have been forces that for at least the last 80 years have been engaged in an assault on the institution of public schools, claiming that they are socialist institutions and actively seeking to label public schools as “government” schools.  Vouchers are not a new idea — they were born in an era of Cold War mentality, anti- New Deal rhetoric, and Jim Crow resistance to integration.  Charter schools are nothing more than an extension of this idea and we are seeing the ramifications of this misguided so-called reform effort now.
  • The book, The Origins of the Common Core: How the Free Market Became Public Education Policy, and the series, is one of unity around the preservation of the institution of public schools.  The goal is for the public and the education community to cast aside any political or ideological beliefs that distract from an ultimate goal.
    That goal is the preservation of the public school system and local control of this systemwithin each community.
  • How can we accomplish this goal?  First of all, acknowledge that there are differing ideological views about education in the U.S.  Very importantly, we must acknowledge that many are militantly against the CCSS for various reasons; most are against high-stakes testing and the data mining that has resulted from the testing movement; and others are equally opposed to charter schools.  But what unites us?
  • Underlying all of this is the reality that corporations are dominating education policy decisions in a new environment of corporate and governmental mutualism that is out to usurp locally controlled public schools and that envisions children merely as a source of profit.  We must unite to stop this corporate assault. Do you want to defeat the Common Core? Stop the profit machine associated with these national standards.  Do you want to put an end to Draconian high stakes tests that are sucking the life out of education?  Stop the profit machine associated with high-stakes tests.  Do you want to reclaim public schools and end the incursion of the charter school movement?  Stop the profit machine associated with charter schools.
  • If we are able to accomplish this, we will reclaim the sacred ground of public education for all children, for all families, and for all communities.  Holding teachers accountable for the test scores of their children will become history.  We will realize that true societal transformation begins with the communities in which children and families live and that the schools within those communities are a part of a larger societal system.  Make it known to every federal, state, and locally elected official that they will lose their elected offices if they do not listen to the UNITED pro-public school forces.  
Author Bio:
Deborah Duncan Owens Elmira, New York
I am a product of public schools. My father’s career in the Coast Guard provided me with the opportunity to live in different states and communities within the U.S. Armed with the education I received in the various public schools I attended, I was able to earn a teaching degree at Mississippi State University and serve as a public school teacher for several years before earning a Ph.D. and joining the ranks of teacher educators — first at Arkansas State University and currently at Elmira College in upstate New York. Deborah Duncan Owens, Associate Professor of Literacy Education Elmira College
To learn more and read a complete Bio about Dr. Owens, please visit her website Public Schools Central for up-to-date information on the Common Core and the Corporate Ed Reform Agenda. Here is the link for the BBS Live Radio Show and Former and Future Podcasts: The War Report on Public Education Here is the link to The War Report Facebook Page: The War Report on Public Education Facebook Group Twitter: @WarRepPubEd
Here is the podcast link from today’s show: How did Anti-public School Corporate Reformers become the Dominant Force in Education Reform? Hosted by Dr. James Avington Miller, Jr and Special Guest Dr. Deborah Owens. This is the first in a three or four part series based on Dr. Owen’s book. If you missed today’s show please listen to the podcast, read the summary from the blog, and then leave feedback in the blog comments section.
Also, hot off the press! United Opt Out has an activist handbook that is now available for purchase: An Activist Handbook for the Education Revolution
Thank you UOO and Test Resisters everywhere. You are true heroes battling against the War On Public Education.
In Solidarity,
Team War

Greater Lessons To Learn From Opting Out

Posted on Facebook by Louisiana teacher Vincent P. Barras -

On April 3, the Advertiser published a cartoon concerning the Opt-out movement. Calling it insensitive and insulting doesn't scratch the surface.

Some background is needed. The cartoon arrives from Buffalo, New York, where the Common Core battles are raging furiously. That state has given the PARCC test for three years now, with huge failure rates for its first two years (70% and 67% respectively.) These poorly-designed tests are confusingly written usually at a reading level two grades above the students. Parents have been justifiably outraged against this intrusion into their children's lives and have reacted in the only way they have: opting their children out of the test.

And now a cartoon that implies parents are selfishly teaching their children horrible lessons. One cartoonist seems to think himself/herself the expert on parenthood and the inappropriate lessons we might teach children.

Well, here's my alternative. Here's what students might learn from opting out.

A. That learning is AWESOME, when it's not driven by a test. When the rest is all important, one gets eleven Atlanta educators convicted for a cheating scandal, because legislators at the federal and state level have made student scores on tests more important than the students themselves. These tests are being used for three proposes: see how a student has scored; rate the teacher on how much the students have scored; and rate the school on those same scores. The last two are not a valid way of gauging a teacher's or school's effectiveness, but it's part of the latest bandwagon of education reformers. They blindly ignore the effect of poverty on children, but choose to saddle the school and the teacher with all the blame. So much for putting the student first.

B. The power on conviction. Long before the Founding Fathers, English citizens had a healthy regard for their rights. American colonists rebelled against attempts to rule them without their input. Ever since declaring our independence, Americans have a long history of standing up against injustice: women's movement; abolitionists; progressive movement; civil rights movements, and more. Now comes a test too difficult for the students who are taking it, and the "people in charge" respond to questions by saying disparaging things like your kids are not as smart as you think and soccer moms should just shut up. No they won't. Civil disobedience allows parents to stand up against the injustice of these tests, and no one, not even a cartoonist will diminish that right.

C. That students will have to learn how to judge bias. Newspapers are no longer the fountain of important--and impartial--information. One must research who is behind the articles or cartoons because the day of the truly independent journalist is long past. It's disheartening to say that parents must infuse their children with a healthy dose of skepticism, to not just accept what is presented to them as fast incarnate. Newspaper are a business and must depend on revenue. The supporters of Common Core and PARCC have the deepest pockets in the universe, from the Waltons to Bill Gates to numerous other billionaires, and we must not allow their money to drown the valid concerns of parents.

D. Tests are limited in their ability to judge. If properly designed, a test question might ascertain if a student has learned a skill, but not completely. How can the test know if a student had no clue and simply guessed randomly? It can't. A test provides a snapshot of one day in the life of a child. It can't adequately judge creativity or empathy or a handful of other skills way more important to a child's future.

E. All of the above.

Just a follow-up note to show how connected the world has become. I discovered this cartoon thanks to Facebook, even though I am presently in New York City on vacation. The carton spurred me to write a response, which I will post everywhere and anywhere. I composed this in the shadow of the 9/11 Memorial, a symbol of US resolve and determination. When you believe enough in something--
your country, faith, family, friends, beliefs--you take action to defend it. I defend my students against what I perceive to be an unjust series of tests designed to meet an inept set of standards written by people with no experience doing so. Thanks to this country and the millions who have sacrificed their
lives, I have this right to protest. As Winston Churchill once said, I will fight on the beaches, in the trenches, everywhere I can in defense of my students, in defense of liberty.