I have been getting requests to release the taped conversation between Alan Seabaugh and John White discussing the manipulation of VAM, or the Value Added Modeling system devised by the state to evaluate teacher performance to serve a few of Seabaugh’s constituents. I did not receive the full 14 minutes that Tom Aswell received, just 3 or so minutes of some of the more interesting points, but without the full context. I think I have mined my piece pretty well for interesting nuggets but feel free to review it yourselves to see if you spot anything else interesting.
Audio removed by request as of 2/12/15 (I will need to create a revised one.)
I think it’s kinda cute how John White is using his big boy voice to talk to one of our legislators. You tell he’s really straining his diaphragm to summon up a deeper voice, and at points I worry he will let out a little squeak or perhaps exhaust himself before the conversation is over. Boy, that would be embarrassing. As it is, he just calmly explains how you can’t always rely on the data, especially when the data doesn’t show what you want it to show. No problem, and no need to bring this point up to BESE. Its much easier to randomly assign “bonus points” to favored teachers or teacher groups to get them to have the scores you want them to have. What’s nice about this approach is you can simultaneously sully the reputations of teachers teaching more challenging, poor, or black students and drive them out of the profession. This makes it easier to bring in charter school operators, who don’t require certified teachers at all! It also makes voucher schools look like better options by comparison. If you drive down the quality of public schools enough, well eventually those voucher schools which score 30 points lower on standardized (LEAP) tests public schools are given, will start to look like a good deal, or at least muddy the narrative a little by making them look not so obviously, dreadfully, worse.
I don’t have the full 14 minutes of the conversation. For that you will have to contact Tom Aswell at Louisiana Voice, but this might still provide some interesting insight into how things really work between, BESE, Jindal, John White and the legislature. And for future reference, if you are a constituent of Alan Seabaugh up in Shreveport, you might try contacting him for personal favors since that appears to work. Perhaps he can get DOTD to repave your driveway, or DEQ to take out your trash? Hey, it’s worth a shot, right?