The Louisiana Department of Education is getting ever more desperate to manipulate the public into believing their voucher program and charter schools are a success. Just last week LDOE hired a PR consultant that worked on Jeb Bush’s propaganda campaign in Florida to sell their public on what a great deal charter and voucher schools are. This contractor named, Deirdre Finn, is working under a 4 month contract for 12,000 dollars a month, which can be extended up to 3 years. This comes staggering 48,000 dollars for 4 months of part-time work (she’s working for Florida as well as Louisiana now) but because only 4 months has been mutually agreed upon, her contract technically falls below the 50,000 threshold for getting contracts approved by BESE. ( If this new gambit works, expect to see 1 week contracts for 49,900 dollars in the near future. Many of the Teach For America appointees come in at 99,500 to get around the legislative approval process for salaries over 100,000 so this type of salary subterfuge is already a well established pattern for LDOE.)
You may be wondering why the LDOE needs a 432,000 dollar contract to manage expectations for their failing charter and voucher fiasco, (and an unprecedented BESE propagandist is also in the imminent offing) but there is much more going on beyond the DVD schools in Ruston, the felons running unapproved schools, the sketchy Bob Jones curriculum granted free rein by the anti-Educator, John White. Well the reason is, most of the students enrolled in the New Orleans pilot SSEE program have been doing horribly – even worse than their peers at the horrible schools they left behind.
John White, no stranger to muddying up a narrative or three, is already on the case! I’ve had numerous confirmations that there are active discussion underway to rig the test scores for these SSEE students so they look much better than they are. My favorite, of all the horrible ideas, is that of giving these students our LAA2 exam, which is reserved for only our most severely mentally disabled students. That idea made me wonder if John White and his cronies should have been given the same test before they were hired. I can’t imagine the person coming up with this idea scoring in the top percentile of intelligence – or ethics for that matter. Perhaps the intelligence slam was too harsh, of the two exams we give to disabled children, they did jump over the mild moderate test go directly for the one given to the severe profound students.
I thought this was a joke, the first few times and people I heard this from, but it’s really not funny. I suppose students, attending the non-public schools willing to take students, didn’t fare so well against their peers in the public arena. However when you compare them against 18 year old students that can’t tie their own shoes, or recite their alphabet, the non-public students make out okay and can even score in the upper percentiles! Now if we can only figure out a way to give all our students the LAA2 test we can begin to show some real improvement from all of the reforms John White has put in place. Actually, I’m sure they’re working on a plan for that now.
Even though Louisiana just got our ESEA waiver for NCLB we have already started ignoring what we promised, and are actively trying to circumvent it. One of the ways we are doing this is with the creation of “Turnaround” Schools. Instead of just giving schools a score of A-F we will be giving some schools a “T” in a number of different circumstances. For the first 2 years a school is taken over they will receive a “T” instead of a letter grade and their actual performance will be masked and known only to LDOE. Schools in “T” status are expected to be immune to any other sanctions or public transparency. The Feds were informed of this, along with hundreds of other circumventions, but under Arne Duncan rule:
- all takeovers are good
- all vouchers are good
- all charters are good – by definition.
This has caused a mass exodus of LDOE folks with personal ethics, pride in their job, or a desire not to be around when the Reform hits the fan.
2.) T’s for Takeover
a. State policy now says
“§1105. Turnaround Schools
A. If a turnaround operator takes over an entire school that was labeled “F” in the previous school year, including all previous grade levels and all former students of the “F” school, then the school’s grade shall be reported as “T” for the first two years of operation..” I have not located mention of letter grade T in the federal waiver.
§1601. Entry into Academically Unacceptable School Status
1. BESE may, during times of transition in the accountability system, waive schools meeting certain conditions from receiving the
AUS label and/or from implementing certain remedies and sanctions.
I am concerned about the impact of T. There is no indication as to what sanctions will be implemented or which list, if any, a school with letter grade T ends up on. An additional concern is that schools will switch operators culminating in a cycle of “takeover” and continuous letter grade Ts, ultimately leaving many of these school unaccountable for significant periods of time.
For example: the attached excel spreadsheet indicates a sample of schools that for 2011 were in the recovery school district and earned a letter grade of F. For 2012, regardless of the data these schools, per new policy, would get letter grade T. In our policy there is no definition of responsibilities for schools with a T, however, an internal email indicates that these schools are to be exempt from all sanctions and lists as long as they remain a T.
The sooner we get rid of John White and his TFA scum, the sooner we can really start to help our children. This travesty doesn’t end here however. The entire RSD is evading accountability by a variety of measures including the “T”s. Take a look!
4.) Title 1
a.) Though a bit unrelated, I’ve posed this question to people in LDOE before with no response so I find it, as a matter of conscience, that I s imply relay the information to USDOE. I don’t know how big of a deal this is but for all accountability reporting, all Type 5 charters are part of the Recovery School District, however on all title 1 reports their data is exempt from public disclosure because they are labeled as a district that enrolls less than 1000 students; that label is simply untrue. Even if that is not the case for reporting TITLE I that RSD charters be consider part of the RSD district, there are several Type 5 charter operators that have multiple schools and well exceed the 1000 student cap that are identified as enrolling less than 1000 in the district (ie: 395 Algiers Charter Association). These schools, unlike any other public school, are being reported in Title 1 with a reporting Site that seems to separate them into different LEAS, however, they are all considered as 1 LEA for accountability. As I said, this may not be an issue but several public schools have asked/complained about this issue and I feel I should just pass it along to USDOE.
It really saddens me that so many of my decent and honorable colleagues are being chased out by the charlatans now running LDOE, but what should make you sad and angry is that our children are being used and discarded for profit and political aspirations. Jindal and John White don’t care about you or your children. They will be gone for greener pastures in a few years, and all we will be left with will be the smelly by-products of their gluttonous over-grazing – a lot of uneducated children and a savagely depleted educator pool.
You can be sure they will blame it on whomever else comes along to hold the bag, but really, no matter who we elect, ultimately the biggest bag holder will be you and me.
For more entertaining reading try some of these fine posts:
Virtual Schools that are instructed to keep students enrolled even if they never log on.
Persistently Dangerous Definition that is designed to never be met.
A way to circumvent accountability where school districts stop reporting new schools that they open and send those students data wherever it would make their declared schools look good.
A description of “shadow schools” and how Louisiana is allowing smaller districts to use these to boost their scores and evade takeover and sanctions