I was going to title this “John White. . . ” etc., but let’s get real. John White is just an unqualified bobble-headed sock puppet (politicians have them made in places like the Broad Academy) that Jindal sticks his hand in whenever he wants to fluff up his conservative bona fides for his out of state conservative audience and donors. We’ve all seen firsthand what happens when any of Jindal’s puppets stutter anything out of line (it’s been termed Teaguing: where they are given their walking papers the next day, regardless of whether the firing is legal or not.) So let’s dispense with the coy game of cat and mouse he is playing with us through his political teat suckling pig puppets. This tyrannical governing style, meted out as often on his “conservative allies” like Senator David Vitter (who he recently scored political points with liberal DC insiders by making a funny about the Senator’s prostitution scandal) is probably one of the main reasons his popularity is hovering in the low thirties in a state that voted for Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney just a few months ago at a rate roughly equal double to Jindal’s current popularity numbers.
So now that we have that resolved, let us continue. Jindal has proposed changing the way Special Education is funded, though his John White schlep doll.
He is doing this using some tried and true methods.
- First they redefined the MFP funding formula into a 26 page monstrosity behind closed doors so the public wouldn’t understand the real reason for the changes nor understand their implications until too late.
- Second they got Jindal’s handpicked BESE members to agree to the changes off the record, and they even postdated the document by over a week, knowing they can ignore open meetings laws with impunity. The press doesn’t call them on it, and the Attorney General actually defends their illegal actions in court on the taxpayer’s dime.
- Third, they termed this program a “pilot” like they did with the Voucher program that started off in New Orleans for a few handfuls of students in the lowest performing schools in the state, which has been expanded to all students in all schools rated C or below (which is more than half of them so it’s not based on an average for those of you keeping up.)
- And finally, they are trying to lull you into a false sense of security by telling the “money was just moved” and in some cases overall per pupil funding will go up.
So why would they do this? Well this is part of team Jindal’s overall plan to “repurpose” money dedicated to SPED students, disabled and Gifted and Talented, to the general education fund. This is what legislators try to do by moving “dedicated funds” like those dedicated for coastal restoration, healthcare, and education to the general fund – so those dollars can offset other revenue, and that other revenue can go to pet projects, special tax breaks for campaign donors, etc.
In this particular case this serves the added bonus of padding the per pupil amount that will be used to calculate voucher student reimbursement, and charter school funding. The Louisiana department of Education picked St Tammany as an example of a district that would not be adversely impacted by this calculation, and even went so far as to estimate that their per pupil reimbursement would be about 18 dollars more per student under this “pilot” of the formula. St Tammany doesn’t have any charter schools or voucher schools. . . yet. You didn’t see a calculation for East Baton Rouge, did you? All of the data needed to make the estimated calculations is readily available, but you don’t see the department producing estimates for anyone but one of the lone parishes that would temporarily get a slight increase, at the expense of everyone else.
This might seem a like a good deal, if you live in St Tammany, if you don’t mind selling out disabled, GT, and talented student for 18 dollars.
There are a couple of points you might want to consider before you think this is a good deal.
- The testing requirements for “talented” students are inappropriate. These are students that might have musical or artistic gifts that would usually not translate to a high score on an AP (advanced Placement) math test. So it’s probably best if you simply accept “Talented” as a student classification is going away, as is most of the funding and programming for these students.
- St Tammany can;t hold out the voucher and charter schools forever, and the virtual schools and course choice providers can paoch their students with impunity now.
- Gifted as a program or classification is essentially eliminated in favor of testing students for passing AP exams as the department no longer distinguishes between students getting high grades on AP exams and gifted students. While it’s hard to argue that it is a laudable goal to try to encourage more students to tackle AP coursework, and earn college credit (especially since our state first time college freshman remediation rate (the percent of students requiring remedial coursework before taking their college coursework) has been increasing over the past 4 years, (probably around the time LDE adopted the career diplomas that required fewer hours of English, Math and Science but still allowed student to apply to colleges and universities) the proper way to do that would be with dedicated funding for that goal. Rather than properly fund an initiative that would enable all students to take advanced coursework, Jindal and White have stripped the funding from GT for this purpose (or “repurposed” it in politician-speak.)
- The new MFP funding formula more evenly spreads out Special education funding for disabled and gifted students will be distributed more evenly to all students, thus not altering the overall funding to be sure. However it will be from this communal pot of money that vouchers and charter schools pull their average pupil allocation. Charter and Voucher schools Always, Always, Always shy away from the hardest students to educate. Parents actually have to sign away their IDEA rights if they choose to enroll a disabled student in a voucher school, and I can’t tell you how many lawsuits by parents DOE has already had over charter schools in Orleans refusing to provide services or enroll disabled students. (In part because this is a closely guarded secret, partly because of gag orders but I had to prepare plenty of reports showing how most charters enroll very few disabled students, and none of the severely disabled students which cost the most to educate.)
This is the tried and true boiled frog approach used for vouchers so successfully in New Orleans after Katrina (and a version of the bait and switch Stelly tax that lowered taxes on in exchange for raising them elsewhere. . . and then the offsetting tax was repealed creating an entirely avoidable perpetual state deficit crisis. ) The premise of this theory goes something like this: If you try to put a frog directly into a boiling pot, it will sense the heat and jump to safety. If you put the frog in a pot of cool water and just gradually raise the temperature, the cold-blooded amphibian will simply change his temperature to match the surrounding water temp without noticing the danger he is in. . .
We’ve seen what this governor has done to frogs before . . . how many of our tadpoles do we have to see cooked before our eyes before we say enough?