More John White lies about salaries, layoffs and raises

More John White lies about salaries, layoffs and raises

I tried to speak to John White’s credibility, or lack thereof, at the BESE meeting, (now yesterday) as I write this. I presented handouts that call into question White’s honesty on numerous issues. I gave handouts about the various inBloom memos and correspondence to each BESE member as well as a little bit of bonus material I picked up today on a rumor I heard and thought to verify.

I was told that White and his executive “unclassified” staff are slated to get 6% raises this budget year coming up. I’m still waiting to see if any specific documentation is forthcoming on that (I’m sure it is being buried in the darkest hole he find after he burns the paperwork) However while looking for info on this I came across some other info that seems to call into question White’s credibility on numerous things he’s done recently, including legal documents he’s filed with Civil Service. To recap, John White laid off as many as 70 Louisiana Department of Education classified personnel because he claimed he did not have the money pay their salaries. He filed as many as 20 individualized layoff plans to do this citing financial reasons. John White also claimed after the Course Choice funding was ruled unconstitutional he was not going to be able fund course for thousands of students unless the legislature allocated him more funds from somewhere. Recently John White and his Department of Education made what seemed to me like a claim that LDOE folks were not going to get raises this year due to financial concerns. He even sent out this letter to his staff about the financial hardship his agency was facing:

From: John White
Sent: Friday, September 27, 2013 2:00 PM
To: _DOE-Entire DOE
Subject: Message from John

Dear Department of Education Team:

I want to first thank you for the work you have done in the first couple of months of the school year.  Each division has taken on ambitious priorities that will benefit the children of our state, and I know that each of you is working tirelessly to ensure those priorities are achieved.

As you know, over the past two years, our department has faced budget cuts that have led to reductions in staff size.  I would like to avoid, to the extent possible, any similar reductions in staff size this fiscal year.

At this time, state revenue projections continue to be modest.  As such, the Department will be taking a set of measures to minimize the impact of any future budget cuts on staff size.  First, the Department will be under a hiring freeze after Oct 7.  Any currently vacant positions not posted by that date, or any positions that become vacant after that date, will require my approval in order to be filled.

Next, the Department will not provide performance adjustments this year. Given your efforts, and given the years since such an adjustment has been made, later this fall I will re-assess our budget position and will determine whether our agency will offer a one-time incentive award to our employees.  Taking this approach gives me confidence that we are not over-spending in a way that would lead to layoffs, while at the same time allowing an opportunity to honor all that you have accomplished for our state.

Please look for word from me on this within the next three months.  In the meantime, please accept my thanks for all that you are doing on behalf of the students of Louisiana.   If you have any questions, please reach out to Jason Hannaman.


White also apparently gave information to the Advocate that may be technically correct, I’m pretty sure it leaves people with the wrong impression, namely that LDOE employees did not get raises, especially ones that kept their same job code.

Departments which have not come up with the dollars for pay raises include: the state Department of Health and Hospitals with 6,815 classified employees, the state corrections agency with 4,885 employees, the state Department of Education and a related entity, 721; Juvenile Justice, 853; the Department of Natural Resources, 354; the Department of Culture Recreation and Tourism, 636; and the Department of Economic Development, 65.

This is not true if you look at the period from 9/12 – 10/13. In fact some employees received as much as 25% raises, most were for unclassified folks, and the ranged from 9% -25%.   I wonder if Bobby Jindal is ok with this?  Someone should probably ask him if some people can give 25% raises if they feel like it even if they are laying off dozens of people at the same time claiming fiscal hardship.  If I was a lawyer working for some of these laid off folks I would probably have a few questions for John White too.

You will also note that during this time John White hired around 30 or so employees with titles such as “fellow” or “consultant” at as much as 99999.90 (less than 100k to avoid legislative oversight and approval) annually. The total amounts in new unclassified positions came to over 1.1 million dollars annually. This was done during the same time period when John White was claiming he had to lay off scores of LDOE classified employees, and refused to pay for the Couse Choice program he himself pledged to find the funds support. Unclassified personnel can be fired at will. They should have been the first to go before scores of classified employees were laid off. Civil Service has to accept the statements of department heads are honest. In this case it appears to be very clear that John White was not honest. He was not honest about raises to select employees (Can he really claim he can make 25% raises for some but not even 1% for others?). He was not honest about being under financial hardship and needing to lay off scores of employees when he can hire dozens more with over a million in annual salary commitments. He was not honest about not having the money for Course Choice when he can still terminate all of these newly hired unclassified employees, or the dozens more and millions of dollars he spends beyond this list.

Department of Education Pay Changes

In case you were wondering. My favorite John White employee title is “Team Member.” I wonder what that looks like on a resume?

So John White told us yesterday Common Core is good.  He claimed his powerpoint was filled with “facts.”  He did not show us facts, just opinions.  Here are some facts John White.  Perhaps you can apply the Common Core principals you tout?  Analyze this report.  Write a summary.  Explain what it means to various audiences (like your boss Bobby Jindal).  Show me how zero raises means 25% raises using Common Core concepts I will understand.  You might also want to explain to your staff tomorrow why you saw fit to lay off so many, stiff so many, and lie to so many of them.

I eagerly await your next e-mail.

Common Core Rally – BESE update for Oct 15 2013

Common Core Rally – BESE update for Oct 15 2013

That did not go as well as I’d hoped, but I suppose as well as I expected. The BESE meeting was a hot mess with CCSS not being started till almost 8 at night, after John White sprung on the audience that had been waiting for 12 hours that he had a 10 minute presentation to deliver (that took 10 minutes to even load) and an additional 45 minutes to cover what seemed like 20 or 30 slides. That was a mockery of the democratic process. I had learned that John White was summoning companies like Exxon, and faux parents groups funded by Bill Gates, not local parents, like Stand for Children, Louisiana to testify. It must be nice for people like Rayne Martin (a former RSD and LDOE employee) to be able to do that as part of your very high paid job. Perhaps as good as Holly Boffy’s job as a paid CCSSO consultant promoting Common Core on the state’s Board of Education. Apparently Boffy confessed at a recent meeting with local constituents that she pays her mortgage with the money she gets from CCSSO. But this is apparently no more of an ethics issue than Kira Orange Jones working as the Louisiana TFA (Teach for America) recruitment director, and on BESE, where they are passing large funding allotments to recruit TFA teachers, either.

White presented his presentation as “facts.” He led off with misrepresenting a recent study about adult preparedness compared to other nations as proof of our incompetence as a State and a Nation. He repeated frequently we were the third from the bottom in education standards in the 3rd from the bottom development nation evaluated.

As usual White completely misrepresented the report, declaring that our poverty and social inequities have nothing to do with the disparities between the nations. Actually the exact opposite is true.

Interestingly, the data show no relationship between a country’s average literacy skills and the impact of social background on those skills, suggesting that high average proficiency does not need to come at the expense of social inequities. Japan, and to a lesser extent Australia, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, combine above-average performance with a high level of equity. France, Germany, Poland and the United States all show both below-average performance and large social disparities.

As usual, White is entitled to his own “facts” in his own backyard.

One of the most charming comments came from one of the two Lincoln Parish curriculum experts. When asked about teacher attrition in his parish by James Garvey, the rep from Lincoln reported that his parish was gifted with the blessing of a significant a teacher attrition problem, driving out scores of bad teachers who don’t want to achieve for their students. Are there any Lincoln Parish teachers that would like to concur with this assessment?

One of the most embarrassing moments was also made by James Garvey to this same teacher I believe. He asked if he found parents complaining a lot about the Socialism and Communism and anti-capitalist subject matter. To which the math teacher replied, uh, I teach math so that doesn’t come up a lot. Garvey then asked if this pro CCSS teacher had heard a lot of parents complaining about inappropriate sexual curriculum, to which the teacher responded basically, still a math teacher, that doesn’t come up much.

Garvey asked numerous questions throughout the meeting to various Common Core supporters, as if from a list of questions he’d been asked to bring up so his Common Core allies could nail them home and score. That might have been a more effective tactic if he hadn’t asked a representative from Board of Regents to comment on the remark that the standards were developmentally inappropriate as defined by child psychologists. He said to this Board of Regents Rep, you’re a doctor, aren’t you? [not of child psychology] What do you think? This struck the woman as strange but, I give her credit for trying to answer the question, which seems to imply anyone with a doctorate in anything is an expert on all things. She mentioned a number of different doctors and people who had reviewed the standards in our state [none of whom were child psychologists] to which Garvey replied, those are Doctors? Good, he said nodded approvingly. She said, well, Dr James Madden, and uh. . . she mentioned a few more random names. It just so happens I had Dr. Madden in college at LSU, and have seen him around the department of education numerous times and chatted with him several times when he was hanging around at LDOE. Dr. Madden was my calculus teacher, and he is a math professor, about as far away from a child psychologist as you can get.

So what this was a farce. When I finally got a chance to speak I’ll admit I was a bit fatigued by waiting all day after getting up with my daughter at 6 am in the morning. When I was interrupted during my 2 minutes to justify how my comment was Common Core related I was a bit thrown, because I had been speaking to a topic that was already covered by three previous speakers. This forced me to juggle a bit and I was sloppy trying to bring my thoughts back together. I had reports that John White was getting his network leaders to bring 5 teachers or reps from each of their regions. They did this, but all that did is drown out the voices of parents trying to finally be heard over the din of the corporate machine arraigned against them. I’m not usually a conspiracy theorist, but I think everyone who attended that meeting on behalf of their children and without the urging of LDOE and related organizations felt the oppression in real and personal terms.

Parents and teachers we can’t do this alone. Hundreds of you confirming you are going to the meeting, but not showing up is not going to do it. If this is something you feel strongly about, if you care about your children, your neighbors children and grandchildren and believe what is going on is wrong, now is the not the time to leave the heavy lifting to someone else. You need to contact your legislators. I am now more convinced than ever that BESE is a pointless mission except to make a public statement. Those folks are largely bought and paid for and powerless to reverse the Corporate Common Core Curriculum. No parents there were against high standards. Standards that are not age appropriate are not rigorous, they are ridiculous. Standards that are 2 years behind the math we teach now do not raise the bar, they lower it to the least common denominator (a math term CCSS proponents must have never learned.)

Chaos is not necessary, but it is desired by John White. While we were there BESE approved by a 9/2 margin a charter operator in a B+ district the local board and superintendent rejected, and which had significant financial questions and a dubious track record in other states. The ultimate objective of John White and reformers is destroying all public schools and converting them into profit centers for corporations and they are only too happy to tell any lie, and endanger any children they need to, to do it.

I heard a lot of bashing on school districts that did not adopt Common Core before the standards were mandated by the state. Those districts and superintends, in their dysfunctional; “fiefdoms” as John White as said at conference in DC recently, are at fault. The parents, teacher and children who are suffering by the hurried implementation be damned. If we accept this as the status quo for our children and our state, then so are we all.

Some children are steak, some have to be the hamburger


My thanks to BESE member Lottie Beebe for putting this on the agenda (I hear she’s a doctor so I wonder why Garvey doesn’t ask her opinion more about everything. . .  he sits right next to her) and to all the stalwart parents and champions who did show and support the speakers or speak their peace.  I am proud to know you and humbled by your actions.