Why is John White Hiding Thousands of Cases of Child Abuse?

Why is John White Hiding Thousands of Cases of Child Abuse?

Louisiana has the laxest rules for corporal punishment in the nation. And unbeknownst to most Louisiana residents, we’re not afraid to use it quite liberally in hundreds of schools on thousands of students every year.

Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:223 – Discipline of pupils; suspension from school, corporal punishment

A. Every teacher is authorized to hold every pupil to a strict accountability for any disorderly conduct in school or on the playground of the school, or on any school bus going to or returning from school, or during intermission or recess. Each parish and city school board shall have discretion in the use of corporal punishment. In those cases in which a parish or city school board decides to use corporal punishment, each parish or city school board shall adopt such rules and regulations as it deems necessary to implement and control any form of corporal punishment in the schools in its district.

In many cases students end up in emergency rooms for broken blood vessels, fractured tail bones and bloody and ruptured genitals.

It can unintentionally cause serious physical damage:

  • Boxing on the ear can burst an eardrum.
  • Shaking can cause a concussion, whiplash, blindness, serious brain damage, or even death
  • Spanking can injure muscles, the sciatic nerve, pelvis, coccyx (tail bone), genitals or spine.
  • Hitting a child’s hands can injure bones, blood vessels, joints and ligaments; it can induce premature osteoarthritis.
  • A child who is hit can accidentally fall and seriously injure themselves.

It can cause lasting psychological and emotional harm to children and those pathologies are carried well into adulthood.

It may trigger criminal, anti-social, violent, aggressive behavior later in life: A longitudinal study of 442 boys born in 1972, found that one out of every three boys — those who have a specific version of a gene — who was maltreated during childhood will be almost certain to exhibit anti-social or criminal behavior as an adult. Maltreatment was defined as including physical abuse. If this is true for boys subjected to physical abuse, one wonders if the violence associated with conventional levels of corporal punishment could also trigger violent or aggressive behavior later in life? Unfortunately, the study is recent, and researchers do not yet know what level of violence is needed to trigger the negative adult behavior. It can be argued that, in the absence of precise data, parents should err on the side of caution and avoid spanking at all costs. More details

It has been linked to many adult problems.
Corporal punishment studies have linked spanking during childhood to higher levels of adult depression, psychiatric problems, and addictions. Another study shows that children who were spanked have a lower IQ when compared to children whose parents used other methods of discipline and control.

It can escalate to abuse: Because a spanking works for a while, the parent often repeats the spanking whenever the child misbehaves. Corporal punishment may then become a standard response to any misbehavior. This can lead to increasingly frequent and harsher spanking which can exceed the “reasonable force” threshold and become abuse. According to the Institute for the Prevention of Child Abuse, “85% of all cases of physical abuse result from some form of over-discipline through the use of corporal punishment”. Each year about 44 Canadian children are known to have been killed by family members; 35 of them by parents. The figures for the United States are probably about 10 times higher.

It trains a child to use violence: Spanking can teach children that it is acceptable for the strong to use force against the weak — the concept “Might makes right” is regularly reinforced. They have an increased likelihood of becoming more aggressive towards their siblings, their fellow students, and (later in life) against their spouses and their own children. Violence as a way of behaving is a learned response.

From : http://www.religioustolerance.org/spankin4.htm

Corporal punishment results in higher levels of (children’s) aggression and lower levels of moral internalization and mental health. (Gershoff, E.T. (2002) Corporal Punishment by Parents and Associated Child Behaviors and Experiences: A Meta-Analytic and Theoretical Review. Psychological Bulletin 128, 4, pp. 539-579.)

Corporal punishment used on children :

  • Reduces the likelihood that they will internalize society morals and learn the reasons for behaving correctly.
  • Increases their aggressive behaviors and hostile attributions that are predictive of future violent behavior
  • Increases antisocial behaviors such as stealing
  • Results in higher arrest rates when they are ages 17 through 45
  • Increases the likelihood that the individual will act violently with an adult romantic partner
  • Increases rates of major depression (Afifi, T.O., Brownridge, D.A., Cox, B.J., Jitender, S. (2006). Physical punishment, Childhood Abuse and Psychiatric Disorders. Child Abuse and Neglect: The International Journal v30 n10, pp 1093-1102)
  • Increases rates of alcohol abuse/dependence

Frankly, it is a perverted practice, and there are no legal restrictions preventing opposite sex adults from engaging in spanking adult age high schoolers.

Slapping or any other type of force used on the buttocks is a sexual violation: The buttocks are an erogenous zone of the human body. Their nerve system is connected to the body’s sexual nerve centers. Slapping them can involuntarily trigger feelings of sexual pleasure which become mixed with the pain. This can lead to confusion in the child’s mind which influences the way in which they express their sexuality as adults.

It is ineffective.

It is ineffective: Spanking a child will stop the child from misbehaving for the moment, but studies have shown that the child’s compliance will only last for a short time; corporal punishment actually increases the child’s non-compliant behavior in the future. Psychologist H. Stephen Glenn said “Corporal punishment is the least effective method [of discipline]. Punishment reinforces a failure identity. It reinforces rebellion, resistance, revenge and resentment. And, what people who spank children will learn is that it teaches more about you than it does about them that the whole goal is to crush the child. It’s not dignified, and it’s not respectful.

(.K. Ni, “Spanking denounced as ineffective, harmful — Expert at ‘Families Alive’ [conference] urges positive discipline,” Deseret News, 1998-MAY-9, at: http://nospank.org/n-c31.htm)

It lowers children’s intellectual development. Would it come as any surprise to you than many of our lowest performing districts are the heaviest employers of Corporal Punishment?

Spanking lowers a child’s IQ: A study at the University of New Hampshire, released in 1998-JUL, found that spanking children apparently slows down their intellectual development. 3 A study of 960 children found an average 4 point reduction in IQ among students, from and average IQ of 102 (above average) for children who are not spanked, to an average IQ 98 (below average) for who are. A reduction of 4 points is enough to have a significant negative functional effect on the students. More information

Jane Gadd, “Spanked children suffer intellectually,” The Globe and Mail, Toronto ON, 1998-JUL-30

It is disproportionately used against disabled, poor, abused and black students.

Corporal punishment tends to be disproportionately used on students who are minorities, male, poor, and/or have disabilities. (A Violent Education: Corporal Punishment of Children in U.S. Public Schools, ACLU Executive Summary, February 2009)

• Nationally, 41,972 students with disabilities received corporal punishment in the 2006-2007 school year.

• This condones the otherwise illegal battery to the ‘infirm’ (
R.S. 14:35.2)

Two School districts with the most liberal use of corporal punishment, using it on about half their students every year, are Richland and Morehouse Parishes.


042001 Delhi High School Richland Parish


Yes School In Decline D-
042002 Delhi Middle School Richland Parish


Yes School In Decline D-
042003 Delhi Elementary School Richland Parish


No Minimal Academic Growth D
042004 Holly Ridge Elementary School Richland Parish


Yes School In Decline C-
042005 Mangham Elementary School Richland Parish


Yes Minimal Academic Growth C
042006 Mangham High School Richland Parish


Yes Minimal Academic Growth C
042007 Mangham Junior High School Richland Parish


Yes School In Decline D-
042008 Rayville High School Richland Parish


No School In Decline D-
042009 Rayville Junior High School Richland Parish


No School In Decline D-
042010 Rayville Elementary School Richland Parish


No School In Decline D-
042012 Start Elementary School Richland Parish


Yes Minimal Academic Growth B


034001 Henry V. Adams Elementary School Morehouse Parish


No Minimal Academic Growth D
034002 Bastrop High School Morehouse Parish


No No Growth D-
034004 Morehouse Junior High School Morehouse Parish


Yes No Growth D-
034005 Beekman Junior High School Morehouse Parish


No School In Decline C-
034008 Cherry Ridge Elementary School Morehouse Parish


Yes Exemplary Academic Growth D+
034010 Delta Junior High School Morehouse Parish


Yes Minimal Academic Growth D
034014 Oak Hill Elementary School Morehouse Parish


Yes School In Decline D-
034016 Pine Grove Elementary School Morehouse Parish


No No Growth D-
034017 South Side Elementary School Morehouse Parish


Yes Minimal Academic Growth D
034023 Morehouse Magnet School Morehouse Parish


Yes Exemplary Academic Growth A+
034025 Morehouse Alternative School Morehouse Parish


Yes Minimal Academic Growth F

US Dept of Education statistics claim that some 2,090 students were spanked here in 2004-05, or about 46% of the enrollment, which would be at least 12 spankings per school day. (More than half of these were at just two almost-entirely-black elementary schools.) Corporal punishment may be given by any teacher, but not by bus drivers. The teacher may spank with his or her hand (it is fairly unusual for this to be specified in official rules), or else use a paddle 20″ long, 4″ wide and half an inch thick. . .

From: http://www.corpun.com/usscr2a.htm

If I had to hazard a guess, I would bet that these schools that employ corporal punishment the least have the highest scores, and vice versa. We can find out of course. The Louisiana Department of Education collected this data down to the individual school and incident level for the past 2 years but refuses all requests to release this data in summary or detail form. Instead they pretend they complied with the legislative resolution by providing this poorly scanned, repeatedly photocopied and barely legible survey that was conducted prior to the legislation. This is how John White deals with uncomfortable data, he hides it or lies about it, or provides weak and pathetic answers to claim he’s complied, but I’ll let you decide for yourself.

Do you think this document . . .

…hosted here: http://www.doe.state.la.us/topics/special_discipline.html

Answers this legislative request:


Page 2 of 2

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that such information shall include but not be limited to the following:

(1) Each incident of corporal punishment as documented in writing, including the name of the student; the time, date, and details of the disciplinary infraction; and the name of all teachers and other school employees who witnessed the student’s misbehavior.

(2) A description of any prior behavioral supports that were provided to the student.

(3) The number of any prior behavioral supports provided for each incident of corporal punishment.

(4) The name of the individual who administered the corporal punishment and the name of any witness thereto, each of whom shall sign and date the required documentation.

(5) The findings of all investigations of employees accused of unauthorized corporal punishment involving students.

(6) A statistical analysis and comparison of all incidents of corporal punishment for each city, parish, or other local public school system.

(7) The number of incidents of corporal punishment administered to each student if more than one per student has occurred.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this Resolution be transmitted to the president of the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the state superintendent of education.

(In case you were wondering which parishes reported they allow and employ it, and which don’t, here’s the details from the crappy scanned copy DOE provided the legislature.)

Do you think this pathetic scanned copy is adequate when the Louisiana Department of Education has collected all this data listed in the table below?

Did you know it was so many? Did you know the policy for how to use it, when to use it, and what to use to administer the punishment is left entirely up to the latest superintendent you hire? So if you have children in a school district that no longer employs corporal punishment, or employs it rarely, that could change overnight. And this state law also allows charter schools and voucher schools to use any method of physical punishment they deem necessary to maintain order. Despite what you may think, parents do not have a right to object. The state can put you in jail if you refuse to send you kids to school to be physically abused, thanks to our new truancy laws, but we also have laws that allow schools to beat your children with anything they find handy.

Neither the statutes nor the school board policies mandate that a spanking must be administered to a student. No school official is compelled to corporally punish a child. But by allowing corporal punishment, the legislature has recognized the need for such under certain circumstances. Significantly, in giving this discretion to our school systems, the legislature made no requirement that parents must first consent to such punishment. Nor has the legislature provided that parents be allowed to issue a carte blanche prohibition of a school’s exercising its rights under the statutes. To allow parents to unilaterally thwart the legally sanctioned decisions of school officials, could lead to troublesome, if not chaotic, results. There would be nothing to prevent ten, twenty or a hundred parents calling in to request that their child not be spanked. What if these same number of parents requested that no form of punishment whatsoever be administered to their children? The legislature, in its wisdom, chose not to leave the door open for such potentially dire consequences.

From: Setliff Vs Rapides School Board

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that corporal punishment cannot be used on prisoners, as it is inhumane and considered a cruel and unusual punishment, but we allow and freely proliferate the beating of 3 year olds in our schools.

In Hudson v McMillian (1992) the Court considered whether the beating by prison guards of a handcuffed inmate at Louisiana’s Angola prison violated the inmate’s Eighth Amendment rights. Voting 7 to 2, the Court found a violation of the cruel and unusual punishment clause even though the inmate suffered no permanent injuries or injuries that required hospitalization. In so holding, the Court rejected the lower court’s argument that only beatings that caused “significant injuries” (read as injuries that were permanent or required hospitalization) rose to the level of Eighth Amendment violations. In dissent, Justices Thomas and Scalia argued (controversially) that the Eighth Amendment was intended to reach beatings by guards at all–rather only judicially-imposed sentences

And the United Nations has even defined Corporal Punishment as amoral, aberrant and wrong.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

All but one of the federal governments who are members of the United Nations have signed it. The lone holdout is the United States.

The Convention defines a child as any “human being below the age of eighteen years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.

Article 19:
States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and education measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child. Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include effective procedures for the establishment of social programs to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement.

Way to lead the world, USA! Maybe China does have a point that our human rights record is nothing to gloat about? We also incarcerate more people than any other country in the world.

The incarceration rate in the United States of America is the highest in the world. As of 2009, the incarceration rate was 743 per 100,000 of national population (0.743%). In comparison, Russia had the second highest, at 577 per 100,000, Canada was 123rd in the world as 117 per 100,000, and China had 120 per 100,000. While Americans only represent about 5 percent of the world’s population, nearly one-quarter of the entire world’s inmates have been incarcerated in the United States in recent years. Imprisonment of America’s 2.3 million prisoners, costing $24,000 per inmate per year, and $5.1 billion in new prison construction, consumes $60 billion in budget expenditures


But I digress. Louisiana is the worst state of one of the worst countries in terms of children’s rights. John White knows this, and has chosen to hide this fact to curry favor with the governor by not allowing anything more embarrassing related to Louisiana and education to reach the light of day. He has stuck his head in the sand on this issue and allowed thousands of Louisiana children to be seriously injured and traumatized for the sake of his career and ambitions. White is a soulless, power hungry and driven automaton, in the coat pocket of privatization interests, and a product of corrupt political cronyism. He has no agenda other than to make himself look good and crush any children who dare get in his way. John White has refused every appeal I’m aware of to-date to produce this data. People have offered to compile it for him for free, because he laid-off or chased off many of the people with the knowledge and expertise to compile this data.

When you have no intent of ever complying with any requests for data from the public or the legislature, it’s a simple choice to make.

Make John White produce this data. Send this request to the media, TV, newspapers, other bloggers, and to the Louisiana Department of Education. Make him produce the counts. There are researchers waiting in the wings to do the analysis, if only given access. But we need a summary of this practice so people can educate themselves about what is going on in their backyard. Please do what you can and add your voice to mine.

Demographic Summary (To see if there are any obvious disparities, such as a disabled students and minorities getting beaten more often than their peers)

Students by reason code. . . (to see what exactly students are being beaten for across districts. . . )

Students Corporally Punished in Louisiana – by Reason
LEA Name LEA code BSSY Reason Code Reason Desc Action Count

(To see whom the districts have assigned to be their designated executioners, and if they are actually following their own policies)

Students Corporally Punished in Louisiana – by site and punisher


LEA Name LEA code Site Name Site code BSSY Code Title Name Action Count

The full excel file ===>(CP )<====  that can be submitted to DOE is here. Send it to:

John.white@la.gov John White (NotsoSuperIntendent )

Kim.nesmith@la.gov Kim Nesmith (Data Quality Director)

Barry.landry@la.gov Barry Landry (Communications)

And see if you can get a response. I’d like them to get a few thousand requests, but even one or two would be nice.

And while you may live in a parish that doesn’t employ corporal punishment at the moment, or doesn’t routinely use it, that could all change with a single change of a principal or superintendent, and it will be your child coming home with a bloody backside, for something he may or may not have done. I punish my children when they do wrong, I’m sure you do too, but I don’t try to injure them with my punishments, emotionally or physically. This practice is wrong, for children, for parents and society.

I will leave you with these thoughts and word from Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans, who banned the practice of corporal punishment at St Augustine’s in 2011.

“I do not believe the teachings of the Catholic Church, as we interpret them today in 2011, can possibly condone corporal punishment,” he explained to a Feb. 24 a town hall meeting at the Josephite-run St. Augustine High School in New Orleans. While parents have the authority to administer such punishment, he could not “possibly condone” the school doing so, the archdiocesan newspaper the Clarion Herald reports.

The archbishop explained that he believes that “hitting a young man does not build character.”

“My image of Jesus is that he said, ‘Let the children come to me.’ I cannot imagine Jesus paddling anyone.”

Corporal punishment can cause unintended physical injury and studies indicate it can cause physical, emotional and psychological damage, including loss of self-esteem and increased hostility toward authority, the archbishop said.

The archbishop had appointed Dr. Monica Applewhite, an expert in safe environment training and child protection, to represent the archdiocese on the committee reviewing the school’s practices.

According to the archbishop, she indicated that the school’s corporal punishment was both excessive and unreasonable and the school did not have effective safeguards to prevent future abuse.

She also said that at least three students were taken to the hospital after being paddled. There were also instances of students being paddled day after day and more than five or six times a day.

Applewhite said that St. Augustine is the last Catholic school in the country to use the wooden paddle.

As one of my former colleagues told me once when I inquired about EBR’s current policy on Corporal Punishment.

“We don’t beat our children in EBR, we love them.”

The rod is easy, what is hard is loving those who hurt us. The rod teaches children to fear us and that violence is an acceptable way to solve problems. Children will always misbehave, it’s our job as mentors and parents to show them the way, not the rod. The Catholic schools have led the way on this issue, but there is no shame in following good leader, but there is shame is following a bad one. There is shame in hiding a problem, so as not to address it, as John White and the Louisiana Department of Education is doing. Don’t let them. Send them the file. Contact the media. Contact your legislators.

State sanctioned child abuse is wrong. Now that you know of it, know that if you do nothing, your hands are no longer clean. Our children need you. Please lend your voices to mine so we can put a stop to this practice.

For a more in depth study/report created by/for the ACLU and Human Rights Watch please refer to this .pdf

Violent Education

or review this video produced by the US Dept of Education


Thanksgiving Acadia

Congratulations to Bryan and the teachers of Acadia Parish. Usually I have to post unhappy stories, but this post seemed like an important one to make Thanksgiving.

Teachers of Louisiana, even if our political leaders seem to hate you (or feel justified in sacrificing you as political pawns) and many parents don’t understand enough about what is going on with education to realize the damage being done in the name of “choice” and “accountability,” there are those that value your hard work and contributions to children’s lives, learning and society. There are still many of us that know the truth and pray for a day when corporate interests are subborned to the interests of our children and their mentors, and not the other way around.

Today I am thankful for you.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Just a few days ago, the Acadia Parish school board in Louisiana honored its teachers of the year.

Each of its 27 schools selects a teacher of the year. Then, the district selects 3 teachers among the 27 as district winners: the Elementary T.O.Y, a Middle school T.O.Y., and a High school T.O.Y. to represent the district at the Regional T.O.Y. level which eventually feeds into the state T.O.Y. competition.

As readers of this blog know, the state of Louisiana has done more to discourage, demean and demoralize its teachers than almost any other state (I have to say “almost” because there is always Florida and a few other contenders).

Bryan Alleman, a teacher in Acadia Parish schools, was invited to be master of ceremonies for the event and he asked me to write a message to the teachers.

This is what I wrote:

Here is a message from me…

View original post 188 more words

Grassroots message

Now that the elections are over it is more important than ever that we tell our friends, coworkers, relatives and even the occasional stranger how destructive this privatization and profiteering reform movement is to children and education.

Expect to have large sums of money dumped into campaigns whenever there is an important or relevant election coming up, but prepare for it ahead of time. We can’t outspend a group that makes large sums of money if it succeeds.
We can only hope to inform enough people ahead of time that no amount of money and lies will change the outcomes of our local elections.

Run for offices, if you can. Even if you lose, make sure you take whatever time you get in the spotlight to highlight the lack of progress and to debunk the false claims. You may not win, but you will start to get the message out for others to follow and hold these phonies accountable when the sand foundations their reforms are built upon wash away.

Ensure they are held accountable and others will take notice.

Diane Ravitch's blog

People often ask me: How can parents and teachers hope to beat the big money that is buying elections in state and local races around the nation? What chance do we have when they can dump $100,000, $200,000, $500,000 into a race without breaking a sweat?

True, they have a lot of money. But they have no popular base. The only time they win votes is when they trick voters with false rhetoric and pie-in-the-sky promises. They call themselves “reformers,” when they are in fact privatizers.

They claim they know how to close the achievement gap but their standard-bearer, Michelle Rhee, left DC with the biggest achievement gap of all big cities in the nation.

They claim to be leading the “civil rights issue” of our day, but can you truly imagine a civil rights movement led by billionaires, Wall Street hedge fund managers, ALEC, and rightwing think tanks?


View original post 118 more words

Oops, John White did it again. (He lost our children.)

Oops, John White did it again.  (He lost our children.)

John White is trying very hard to keep data from the general public and researchers. He even passed a number of edicts when he first came to DOE that forbade LDE staff from communicating with school districts via any method other than a vetted weekly or bi-weekly newsletter. I’ve been told by numerous data coordinators that many of them have no ideas when deadlines are coming, when changes made to the system, when they have problems with their data, or even when webinars are scheduled.

Another one of these commandments was that no data of any sort could be released by anyone other than his public relations officials, and those releases were usually of the PR kind, short on facts, context and details and big on puffery. We were actually told in person (so there would be no e-mail record) that we would not be providing data to hostile groups, and that anyone who requested data (even data already available on our website) must be sent to Public Relations, so they could put the requestor in the proper context and mindset to understand the data. (People I sent to PR told me later they were usually pointed to different data than what they were requesting or told the data did not exist – even though is almost always did.)

DOE used to publish more than 10 years of enrollment data, which is used by demographers for budget projections, charities and non-profits for resource allocations, other state agencies for various state and federal reporting needs and programs, but DOE has decided to use FERPA to start concealing as much detailed data as they can. However if you are persistent and knowledgeable enough you can still piece together quite a bit of data from trolling through various publications within and outside of DOE. These figures all come from internal DOE publications, but they show what happens when an organization blinds itself to spite its face and revels in positive numbers without ever questioning their authenticity. I’d like to claim that John White knowingly is concealing the truth here, but he’s not bright enough to figure this out and lacks an inquisitive mind.  Unfortunately the people he brings in from other states are political science majors, not mathematicians and not interested in anything but perpetuating a myth that the various Reforms being undertaken by DOE are working. In regards to graduate and dropout rates – these reforms actually seem to be working in reverse (but you wouldn’t know it form the data DOE lets you see.)

(Note: One of the ways John White is falsely convincing you is by design. JW is rigging SPS scores for high schools, which I will cover later, but I was already working on this piece when that analysis data rolled in.)

To the untrained eye this chart might just look like a bunch of random unrelated numbers. Allow me to tease some interesting bits out.

According to DOE, the dropout event rate has been drastically decreasing over the past 5 years, most noticeably in the last few. If this were accurate, when you have fewer students dropping out, you would expect more students to graduate (or get a GED or Certificate of Achievement which are the only terminal credentials students can get to prevent becoming a dropout.) Please refer to the next two charts (provided by LDE) illustrating this dramatic decline in dropout rate and count.

Very impressive, no? According to my calculations, the average number of students dropping out prior the 2005-2006 (Katrina year and pre-reforms and takeovers) was 17,683 students dropping out each year (over a span of 5 years.) Dropout percentages get factored into School Performance Scores (SPS). The lower your dropout rate, the higher your score. The higher your score the less likely you are to be in Academically Unacceptable Status (AUS). Only schools in AUS are eligible for takeover. You might say there would be a certain motivation for tinkering with scores a bit, no?

But let us see if the rest of this trend plays out as you would expect. If fewer students are dropping out, you would expect your GED’s, Diplomas and Certificate’s of Achievement (COAs for SPED students) would increase to compensate for that fact. In fact, since students drop out in grades 7-12, you would expect a decrease in this dropouts (or exiting schools) to have a cumulative exponential effect on counts of completers. (Imagine an hourglass open at the top.  If dropouts are the sand that blows out, the less sand blowing out, the more sand that should make it to the bottom.) What we see below is the percentages of GEDs and COAs barely budging (maybe by a percent for both of them) while dropout percentage has decreased by almost 4%.

That may not seem like a lot of difference, but consider students should only be leaving this calculation around 12th grade, when they finish, if they are not dropping out in grades 7-12. Those numbers should actually be increasing at a much faster rate than dropout numbers are decreasing 5 years into this trend – assuming they were actually staying in school.

But there is one number left that could make up for this discrepancy – graduates.

Now look at this my green chart again. Over a period when our dropouts decreased by a net 22,239 more (than the average 5 years before) our graduates remained relatively level. The average annual increase is in graduates over this time is about -10 (negative 10 folks).

Where did those twenty two thousand students go? In 5 years you would have expected most of those students to have started graduating and adding significantly to the grad total. In fact, over this same time student enrollment has increased by an average of around 5500, year over year. However during this same time, our cumulative enrollment (all students who set foot in any school in a given year has actually declined!

If those students were actually staying in school, while out overall enrollment was increasing, our enrollment in grades 7-12 would have to be increasing, but it’s not!

In fact the opposite appears to be happening. You will notice that we are graduating more students once they reach grade 12, which is improving out cohort numbers, but our overall 12th grade enrollment hasn’t changed appreciably since 2006 and in several years it declined by almost 5%. If you look at our grads as a percentage of our total enrollment, you will notice that the percent of students actually graduating is actually decreasing every year!

If our cohort graduation rate was actually improving like LDE is claiming, if our dropouts were actually decreasing by the 40-50% LDE is claiming on a nifty powerpoint presentation i saw on their site, these trends would be very large, in all the opposite directions!

Based on these numbers I’d estimate we lost an additional 25 to 45 thousand students to dropouts over the past 5 years. I think I know where they’ve gone, but I’d need access to much more than this condensed and sanitized data to show that. Of course this data is a little older than I’d like, but LDE doesn’t want to release any more recent data. If my calculations are correct, it makes me wonder if this shell game is about to collapse on the weight of its own BS.

Until we remove John White, he will continue lying to us and telling us to just “Believe.” I think BESE would like to know this type of info, even if most of BESEwere given their seats by Bobby Jindal’s largesse, I’d like to think most of them owe allegiance to Louisiana and Louisiana school children first, before Bobby, or party.

However, we’ve all seen what Bobby Jindal does to people who don’t parrot the party line. John White was given this job because of his blind allegiance to Bobby. I didn’t always agree with Pastorek, and he had his share of faults, but at least he was a man of principal, integrity, and cared about our children. John White only cares about his career and portraying a positive image to back Jindal’s 2016 election run.

Members of BESE:
Jindal and White will be gone in a few years. They will be done with this State, but you will be left behind to take the blame for the damage they have done. They can hire PR folks to point the finger back at you when this scheme fails and the true plight of Louisiana’s children comes to light.


Louisiana and John White decide to explicitly codify Shadow Schools

Louisiana and John White decide to explicitly codify Shadow Schools

I think it’s safe to say I underestimated just how sleazy John White and his TFA toddlers were capable of being. When confronted from multiple sources with evidence of Shadow Schools (unreported schools or formerly reported schools no longer reported for the purposes of altering accountability scores) rather than crack down on districts like St James and Iberville, who are using unreported magnet schools to raise the scores of terrible schools in their district above the academically unacceptable threshold, John White has chosen to change BESE policy to allow these situations – knowing full well:

  • they will lead to falsely raised scores
  • fewer schools in AUS status
    • thus more kudos for him and his team
    • and more faux feathers for the DOE peaCock to proudly fan in the faces of his next employer.

This excerpt comes from a Louisiana Believes summary document circulated by LDOE before a BESE meeting on October 16th where John White made numerous proposals to tweak various scores so his “reforms” would look like they were working and so his paycheck and prestige could get even larger.

The following extract is from the precise agenda that was passed by BESE on October 16th allowing school districts to decide what a program was and what was a school.

If districts “decide” to declare they have a school; that “school” must report its own test scores and will get assigned its own SPS score. If a district decides they would like to define any of their schools as “programs” they can do that. There are no questions or requirements. They can route those students from that program anywhere they want. If I was one of the larger districts like Jefferson, Caddo, or EBR that was told no before and has been enduring a plague of school takeovers I would immediately stop reporting all of my schools. If your district is above 70 SPS you can report your entire district as a single “school” now. You can define one district school and all the other schools as alternative programs that route to this school. If you want to start small, just declare a few of your high performing magnets as alternative programs and route those students to the school in your district in danger of being taken over.

Don’t worry, about parents. You can still report the data accurately on your website like St James and Iberville; this is just about making sure John White has a decent legacy and spiffy credentials for his next education heist.

This Reform [Bowel] Movement that John White, Michele Rhee, Joel Klein and TFA are pushing down throats locally and nationwide was never about students or achievement. It was about money and power. It was about smoke and mirrors. It was about making you “Believe.”

Each feather represents a shattered dream for a child, but a dream come true for me! Keep on Believing Louisiana!

More Evidence on the Shortcomings of “Value-Added” Teacher Evaluations…

More Evidence on the Shortcomings of “Value-Added” Teacher Evaluations….

This article from Linda Darling Hammond, a professor of Education at Stanford and a chairman of the National Council’s Board on Testing and Assessment, reinterates some of my earlier points about why Value added is an unstable unreliable hoax that is more influenced by student assignment and external factors than teaching ability.

The correlation between random temperatures and Value Added Scores

The correlation between random temperatures and Value Added Scores

I think most people would agree that it makes sense to evaluate people on the job they are doing. I think it is safe to say most people appreciate valuable feedback and constructive criticism. (Well probably not my wife, or myself so much, but stick with me here.) Ideally, if you are going to be on the receiving end of a critique we would all prefer that the evaluation is both impartial and accurate and that it is delivered in such a way that it helps us improve our work product. Louisiana has adopted a measure of evaluating teachers called Value Added Modeling or VAM for short. This is a very complex system of evaluating teacher performance through the performance of their students – on a few specific subjects and tests. If you’re really bored and really statistically savvy you can review a self-analysis of this system by its creators at the end of this post. If you’d like to defer to my analysis just keep reading.

In layman’s terms, the idea behind this system is trying to figure out what a student would have scored with a shitty teacher, average teacher and awesome teacher, based on their previous performance. Once we figure out what those expected scores should be for each student, we check their actual scores and link those results to their actual teacher(s). If a student scores in the awesome range, their teacher must be awesome – by association.

If they score in the less than awesome range well then their teacher or at least their abilities look something like this.

So in short. . . If this evaluation system was just based on raw student scores teachers with the good students would be awesome. Teachers with the bad students would be crap. To equalize the playing field a Child Psychologist named George Noell developed a mathematical model that is supposed to factor in the quality of a teacher’s raw material. Using historical data, trends and complicated averaging methods he extrapolated what a given student’s average score should be if they were given an average teacher. If a student does better than this “expected average score increase” you are a better than average teacher. If the student does worse, you negatively impacted your student with your crapitude. Congratulations.

Scores and tests have all sorts of different ranges, so to make the scores looks comparable through the ages Noell employs some mathematical tricks to normalize the scores with a mean average in the 300 range.

In example: Add test scores 100+150+80 = 330. Divide sum by number of scores 330/3 = 110 to get mean. Now divide 300 by 110 = 2.72 as a multiplying factor. Multiply all scores by the 2.72 factor and now our scores become 272, 408 and 218 on where a 300 is considered average for all test scores. (for a given subgroup)

“Additional work was conducted to complete the datasets. Student achievement scores were re-standardized to mean of 300 and standard deviation of 50 across grade and promotional paths. These values were selected because they closely approximate the typical mean and standard deviation of Louisiana’s assessments across grades and years.” (from Feb Final Value added report)

No biggie there. That was just done to make the numbers look similar and make them easier to graph and to maybe confuse a few people. Now to account for special circumstances known to have a relationship to test scores Noell ran some comparisons using groups of students with say, severe mental disabilities to see if his three year projection model was as good at predicting outcomes as other demographic factors

Indicator codes were used to identify students who were identified as members of the following special education disability groups: emotionally disturbed, specific learning disabled, mildly mentally disabled, speech/language disabled, other health impaired, or other special education disability. Additionally, indicator codes were used for limited English proficiency, Section 504 status, gender, receive free lunch, receive reduced lunch, and ethnicity classification (each ethnic category received its own indicator code).

He found that in some cases and for some demographics they seemed pretty comparable. He also noticed some fairly significant differences. For instance:

The implication of removing special education disabilities information is more substantial. For some teachers, the change in estimate would be large. The proportion of teachers for whom the change will have an impact (small or large) is much greater than for any other variable considered. Finally and most importantly, the impact of excluding this variable will be highly systematic in that it will primarily impact teachers with a high proportion of students with disabilities.

What Noell also theorized based on his data sample would seem pretty obvious to most people, but I think it bears repeating. Quality of data matters. Bad data means inaccurate, perhaps even opposite results.

It is important to note that the first full statewide deployment of the CVR occurred in spring 2010. The comparative analyses between years described below are based on unverified rosters for 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. It is the authors’ hypothesis that when two years of verified rosters are available, the relationship between consecutive years may be strengthened as error variance associated with inaccurate student-teacher links is removed.

I think it’s worth noting that we should expect the quality of this data to be getting worse, not better. This is in no small part due to the failure of the Louisiana Department of Education to maintain data validation and collection staff at the same levels they had in the years of this pilot. In 2010 Data Management had a staff of approximately 12 people. This staff has been reduced due approximately 3 people (75%) to handle even more systems and data collections –and the defections includes all senior staff for these systems. The Accountability and testing area has been similarly impacted and as a result much of the raw testing data used to assign these scores is highly suspect. (Feel free to ask any school district’s testing and accountability liaison to verify a dramatic decrease in quality and timeliness of testing data.)

Now this brings us to the actual accuracy (or stability) of the model employed by Noell. According to an evaluation performed by Wayne Free, Assistant Executive Director, Louisiana Association of Educators, this model has an error rate (as defined by variable classifications of teachers in different categories based on identical teaching methods but different students) as close to 75%

VAM as it is being used currently has approximately a 75% error rate (73.2% in Math, 77.7% in ELA) at the bottom 10% level and approximately 57% error rate (54.2 in Math, 62.5% in ELA) at the top 10% level based on the Validity numbers in the department’s report.

From: George Noell
Sent: Thu 5/10/2012 10:20 AM
To: Free, Wayne [LA]
Subject: RE: Report to legislative education committees

Answers are below, based on the mathematics data (exact numbers vary slightly between content areas.

1. If a teacher scores in the lowest 10% of the VAM score the first year and does nothing different the next year what is the likelihood they will fall in the lowest 10% the second year and remain “ineffective”.


2. If a teacher scores in the lowest 10 – 20% range of the VAM score the first year and does nothing different the next year what is the likelihood they will fall in the lowest 10% the second year and become “ineffective”.


4. If a teacher scores in the highest 10% of the VAM score the first year and does nothing different the next year what is the likelihood they will fall in the highest 10% the second year and remain “highly effective”.


5. If a teacher scores in the highest 10 – 20% of the VAM score the first year and does nothing different the next year what is the likelihood they will fall in the highest 10% the second year and become “highly effective”.


7. I guess what I’m actually asking is what is the stability range across years based on a 10% differential each year and not the top to bottom analysis given in the report

Numbers are above.

Hope that helps.
George Noell, PhD, BCBA
Department of Psychology
Louisiana State University

Teachers were not given these scores and not counseled on these scores therefore we can conclude they did not alter their teaching methods based on these score results. A teacher can be in the bottom 10% one year and the subsequent year be ranked in the top 10% doing nothing different!  Is this reasonable to assume this is merely based on teaching skills, or is it more likely that this model does not account for enough variables to be reliable for evaluating teachers fairly???? To me, the previous chart provided by Wayne Free shows tragedy and absurdity that is VAM. Despite all the pretty numbers and fancy modeling, the results are not much better than random.

Value Added scores are about as accurate as guessing what the temperature will be next year in Louisiana based only on these statistics.

Louisiana has a relatively constant semitropical climate. Rainfall and humidity decrease, and daily temperature variations increase, with distance from the Gulf of Mexico. The normal daily temperature in New Orleans is 68°F (20°C), ranging from 52°F (11°C) in January to 82°F (28°C) in July. The all-time high temperature is 114°F (46°C), recorded at Plain Dealing on 10 August 1936; the all-time low, –16°F (–27°C), was set at Minden on 13 February 1899. New Orleans has sunshine 60% of the time, and the average annual rainfall (1971–2000) was 64.2 in (163 cm). Snow falls occasionally in the north, but rarely in the south.

Now you know the temperature range. So guess. Of course your guess might be more accurate if I gave you a specific day, time, region, whether it was raining or sunny and your guess would be much better. However like Value Added scores, these are just averages. I can give you all of those information points and something can still happen you hadn’t anticipated. Just recently Super Storm Sandy barreled into the north east bringing deluges and blizzard-like conditions in October If I gave you this type of information 6 months ago and asked you to estimate a temperature in North Carolina (where my father told me it was snowing) Sandy would have thrown off almost everyone’s estimate. You would have been misled by history and averages. This is the same flaws that VAM suffers from – an overreliance on history and averaging.

No prediction model ever invented can account for every variable. There will always be Sandy’s. There will always be students who become injured in car accidents in the middle of a school year, throwing off their 3 year expectation. There will be students with parents going through divorces, bankruptcies, homeless situations and students enduring abuse from their peers, strangers or family members. There will be students who simply decide to go through an anti-social Goth stage when they get to high school for no other reason than they saw something cool on YouTube and there will always be students who transfer from out of state with not historical data to build an accurate projection – even by Noell standards.

Please remember that we are not just talking about numbers. We are talking about tens of thousands of educators that comprise those averages. Most of whom try their very best to do a good job, just like you and me, and many of them are being libeled and labeled as “bad” teachers by an absurdly flawed measurement system that may only accurately identify ineffective teachers 25% of the time. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of students who are more than just test scores. They are real children with real problems and they need their teachers engaged not just in their math and reading scores, but the whole child. (Wouldn’t you think a Child Psychologist would understand that?) Many of these children spend more time with their teachers than their own parents, and many teachers are like another parent or mentor to children in their class, and in their care. Value Added dehumanizes our children and our teachers. We are not the sum of our demographics. We are not a projection on a sterile chart, or lines on a graph. We are not our math and reading scores and you dishonor every good teacher you ever had if you believe VAM for one minute captures everything they were to you and everything they are to your children.

There’s a reason private schools would never allow this in their schools. Why do we allow it in ours?