Current Education Related Projects – Intro
I just realized I’ve been working on a number of different projects to expose education abuses and to improve education for the children in my state with a passion I usually reserve for online gaming and good food and drink. Admittedly I was motivated by spite as well as a sense of duty and justice. I’ve found the spiteful aspect to be less sustainable since my “voluntary” separation from my DOE. What has replaced it is a sense of hope as I’ve talked to numerous groups and organizations on children’s issues and education data and how my knowledge of Louisiana’s data might be leveraged for positive outcomes for the children in my state – my own children included. As I get documents published or outcomes achieved I will update my readers here. Whenever possible, I am taking a low profile and using third parties to request data and pursue shared goals. I plan to use this page to update my goals and record some statistics on my progress.
Louisiana is one of the few states that still authorizes and vigorously employs the use of large wooden paddles to smack children who are deemed to be misbehaving. There are no state guild lines on when it is appropriate to use corporal punishment. While I was at the DOE I saw stats that showed more than half the children in a given district were disciplined this way in just last half of the year. (We only collected data for the last semester which has never to my knowledge been published yet. I was one of the few people who actually saw it since I was the one responsible for gathering and reporting it.) Some children were paddled more than 30 times over the course of just a few months. Children as young 3 and 4 and as old as 17 were disciplined this way. It appeared that boys and minorities were more often the recipients of corporal punishment but I was unable to determine (due to lack of time and quality of data) if the ethnic bias was more closely related to poverty. Districts with some of the lowest education outcomes as measured by School Accountability Scores appeared to have the highest rates of corporal punishment (such as the parish that used CP on more than half of their students in half a school year.) It would probably take a researcher some time to tease out that correlation though. At least one parish allows any adult in a supervisory capacity the authority to discipline their students using a 18-24 inch wooden paddle without any training or oversight. One of the most alarming findings was that many if not all school districts discipline their disabled (Special Education) students this way. There is no review process in place to determine If the behavior deemed to warrant the use of physical force may be related to their unique exceptionality (such as a student with Tourette’s Syndrome spontaneously and uncontrollably cursing.) There does not appear to be any consensus on what behavior warrants corporal punishment. Some districts use it sparingly for more serious offenses, while a number of districts may employ it for the smallest transgression such as “Willful Disobedience” which is often a uniform violation such as an un-tucked shirt or inappropriate footwear.
As of 7/22/2012
|Organizations or Prominent Citizens Contacted||Contacts Made Promising future coordination or currently coordinating||Data Requests filed/filled||Reports and articles produced/published||Outcomes|
|17||5||2/0||0/1||task force list|
Blog entries posted:
Goal: To eliminate the use of Corporal Punishment in Louisiana.
(It’s already been outlawed for use on animals and inmates, but children have fewer rights here apparently)
Other references to my blog vis a vis corporal punishment:
I have acquired a task force list of prominent Louisiana citizens and organizations that participated in a task force with their preferences listed as for or against corporal punishment. I am tracking down the “Fors” right now.
I have made a few requests to DOE to provide CP data either in summarized or raw form for me to compile. I may need outside pressure to get them to release it. I am looking for allies to help me get that ammo which i can use to interest more mainstream media organizations and legislators in my cause.
Section 504 Children (basically students with learning disabilities)
While I was at LDE I designed a system to capture the 504 status for students in Louisiana. By now we have 2 or three years of data. From my discussions with the state liaison and even people within and outside the department of education it is apparent that Non-public Schools, many charters and a number of school districts do everything they can to discourage students from claiming to have 504 disabilities. This discouragement will take many forms but usually results in the students needing to be withdrawn and enrolled elsewhere, being underserved and discriminated against, or parents having to take on a greater financial burden to ensure their children receive supplementary services, tutors, etc.
Some of you may not really know what “504” means. I didn’t before i started working on the project to collect data on this situation. Before I started designing the system for collecting this data I did a little homework on what it is. 504 refers to a section of the American’s With Disabilities Act (ADA) that prohibits schools that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of children’s disabilities if the schools receive federal funding. (Even though most non-pubic schools don’t receive traditional per-pupil funding, they may receive other types of federal funding for technology and nutrition programs for instance.) With Louisiana’s new laws allowing any non-public school to receive local, state and federal funding – non-public schools must be held to the same standard as pubic schools in providing services for disabled students covered under 504 or IDEA (Special Education.) or be in violation of federal law. Many of these schools probably don’t realize this yet, so this issue will need to be made more public and to prevent non-public schools from denying less desirable (more challenging) students from enrolling and remaining enrolled.
Additionally, based on the statistics I viewed, (and backed up by anecdotal accounts relayed to me) that a number of districts refuse to provide the same level of services that most of their peers provide. When you have most districts identifying around 5% of their students as having a 504 disability and several large districts reporting rates of less than a tenth of a percent in a like sized district. . . that would seem to warrant further investigation and possible sanctions and corrective actions. Unfortunately the Louisiana Department of Education has been instructed by the past two Superintendents of Education that they are no longer going to be involved in overseeing compliance issues (even though the federal government provides funding for positions for that purpose that LDE fills). Therefore outside groups will need to take an interest in this data and pushing for greater oversight and equality for disabled students.
If you are still bewildered by the difference between Special Education(IDEA) children and 504 disabled children this graphic and link may provide some insight.
- To educate legislators and other stakeholders about 504 status.
- To improve consistency in reporting and defining 504 status in LEAs.
- To encourage Louisiana to include 504 status as a component of the teacher evaluation system (currently students may develop a 504 condition such as a learning disability or vision issue that can impact performance. The Value Added model does not currently include 504 status as factor in a students sudden declination in test scores.)
- To encourage legislators to include funding for LEAs to address 504 conditions just as they do for at-risk students, LEP students, and Special Education students.
- To educate charter schools of their obligations under section 504 of the disability act in regards to addressing student needs.
Shadow Schools (Non-Reported Schools)
Shadows schools is a term I invented so don’t go looking for in anywhere else. I discovered “shadow schools” while working at the Louisiana Department of Education but I have reason to believe what i discovered is just the tip of a very large and growing iceberg. A shadow school is a schools which operates from the shadows, off the official books reported to the state, federal government and judicial agencies. That’s not to say the school districts don’t know what’s going on at these shadow schools. Like the Mafia, they have two sets of books (or possibly more.) This allows the school district to manage personnel and students at a building level, but report those same students and teachers from other schools that are defined. Some people have been confused as to why someone would want to do this. Is this really a big deal, if the student and teachers all get reported? Louisiana’s former superintendent of Accountability actual made this argument in a meeting I was in, in front of a political appointee that appeared to want to sweep this situation under the rug. He knew full well what this meant/means but he also knew if he made a big deal about it he would be gone. He’s still gone (that was going to happen anyways) but by ignoring issues like this he was able to avoid making waves and stayed a bit longer than most.
Here is what most anyone who deals with data and accountability ought to have been able to explain off the top of his head.
(sorry i left it hanging here folks but i really need more hours in the day) These will all be filled out eventually.
Violence Against Teachers (or anyone in Education setting)
Miscellaneous Special Education Issues
Slaying Value Added Model (and Replacing with a Collaborative System)
Charter School Oversight Issues (lack of)
Eliminating Creationism and ID from School Science Curriculum