Letter to the editor by BESE member Lottie Beebe

Dear Editor, [That’s me I think!]

On October 15, 2013, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) invited feedback from the public regarding the national Common Core standards that are currently being implemented across the state. As a BESE member, I requested that BESE discuss the standards based on numerous concerns expressed by parents across Louisiana – concerns about the rigor of the standards, the negative effects the standards were having on our students, student privacy, the role of special interest groups outside of Louisiana in shaping the standards, lack of training on the new standards for teachers, and poor implementation planning by the Louisiana Department of Education. Citizens came to the meeting and spoke about the pros and cons of the Common Core standards, expressing their convictions to their government.

The citizens who voiced their concerns about Common Core clearly affected BESE, which had previously acted with a heartless disregard to the impact Common Core was having on Louisiana’s children. Less than 24 hours later, without any public input or scrutiny, with little time for review from elected BESE members, BESE voted on new policies to shift responsibility to the local school districts to pick materials for Common Core.

Common Core remains in place. Student data sharing remains in place. The questions and concerns about classroom readiness and the special interests and the rigor of the standards remain. It was great that BESE responded to the people’s concerns, but it was a very ineffectual response.

Regardless of our thoughts on the Common Core, it is clear that we all want academic rigor for our students. We should also demand rigorous accountability of our elected leaders. We should demand that new policies be passed in a thoughtful manner, with input from the public, not as a flimsy distraction from legitimate public outcry.

 

Sincerely,

Lottie P. Beebe, BESE District 3

Breaux Bridge, LA

337.412.2564

A Concerned Parent from Madisonville “Speaks Out” to her legislators about Oct 15th BESE meeting

A Concerned Parent from Madisonville “Speaks Out” to her legislators about Oct 15th BESE meeting

I received this letter from a parent who prefers to remain anonymous at this time. She wrote this letter to her legislators about what she witnessed at the BESE meeting that transpired on October 15th. While it was exhausting for so many to have to wait until 11 o’clock, in some cases, to speak (unless you worked for Exxon) I am glad that so many parents came early and saw the shenanigans that passes for our BESE meetings and the mockery that is the majority of our BESE board. Many parents saw horrible action after horrible action take place: Insane vote after insane vote against the best interests of our children, parents, teachers, parishes and state. For me this may the most important thing that happened at BESE on the 15th. Finally, many parents had their eyes opened not just to Common Core and the dubious nature of the rollout, questionable material, and the dangers our children’s data being sold, but to the larger battle being waged by special interests against all of public education in its entirety. Greed is the true master of both Republicans and Democrats. I have included subtitles in [braces] over the various sections this parent covered.

From:
Concerned Parent

Sent: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 9:00 AM
To: Schroder, Rep. (District Office); Donahue, Sen. (District Office)
Subject: BESE Meeting

Mr. Schroder and Mr. Donahue,

[Developmental appropriateness]

I just wanted to express my concern to you about yesterday’s BESE meeting. We were finally allowed to speak after waiting about 10 hours. The majority of the BESE board seemed to look upon us with disdain. The opponents of common core brought up valid issues with regard to the psychological inappropriateness of the material with our youngest students. This really needs to be looked into. Are you aware that more and more child psychologists are speaking out about the harm this program is doing to our youngest children? What happens when more and more children are put on drugs to deal with the stress they are feeling with trying to do abstract problems they are being given when their brains are not developed enough to think this way? Child psychologists were never considered or brought in when all these standards were being developed.

[Teacher fired for reporting cheating]

Another gentleman (I did not get his name) spoke about being fired after he brought cheating issues to John White and Chas Roemer. This man was told that he was fired due to being an inefficient teacher. He referenced telling Chas Roemer about a (KIPP, I believe he said) teacher going to a child’s house and reading the questions directly to them. How is this not cheating? Isn’t it a bit coincidental he was fired after telling John White and Chas Roemer about the cheating?  There also seems to be issues with the VAM. Dr. Beebe called for independent study on the problems with this, but Chas Roemer jumped in to try and have this looked at by a 3rd party (no doubt, highly paid and under his control) instead. I do not fully understand the VAM models, but as teachers are held to this, they should be able to understand how this formula works and there seems to be a lot of confusion with the validity of the model.

[Grade letters will likely drop due to PARCC, White caught in real-time fib]

It was also interesting to hear John White state that Louisiana will NOT see any type of decline in the PARCC testing results. This came as quite a shock to me as New York dropped to just 30% passing after 70% passing under the previous testing. This statement turned out to be a LIE. A bit later, when questioned by Dr. Beebe, John White admitted that he did tell the school superintendents that all schools will DROP an average of one letter grade with PARCC testing. I am sorry, but how can we have faith in a superintendent who outright lies?

[Data sharing and SSN exposure for 700,000+ students]

The data sharing is another issue I have. Have you seen the letter John White received from Inbloom? The contract was cancelled by Inbloom because John White shared social security numbers! This is outrageous. John White is not protecting our kids sensitive and personal data. I also do not believe him when he states they are not sharing data. Why did Louisiana accept $1 million in federal money to develop a WDQI longitudinal data system. This grant is also overseen by Governor Jindal’s mother. Why does this strike me as wrong? I have a copy of the Inbloom letter if you would like me to send it to you. The FERPA laws have been so decimated that parents have NO right to opt their children out of this cradle to grave data tracking. This does not sit right with me. Why should my children’s data be sold to the highest vendor? What is this country coming to when children are no longer being protected by the government?

[BESE Board conflicts of interest, unconditional charter school approvals]

I also have serious questions about the impartiality of some members of the BESE board. Holly Boffy is actually being paid by the CCSSO. How is this not a TOTAL conflict of interest when she continues to push for the agenda she is being paid for? Kira Orange Jones also works for Teach For America. I heard at yesterday’s meeting that a charter school was agreed to be put in Lafayette parish (a B rated system) even after the local school board voted NOT to put in a charter school. Where is the local control? And, you do know who fills many of the charters teaching positions, don’t you? Teach for America teachers with 5 weeks of training.

[Sex education tie-ins]

It seems like the ONLY thing John White paid attention to was when one of the concerned parents talked about the Sex Ed program. He stated adamantly that those will not appear in the schools. However, another mom a few speakers later showed a recommended field trip suggestion from another parish about 4th graders urged to attend a play with sexual themes and pregnancy. Once again, I do not believe what John White says. I have lost faith in the objectivity of the BESE board. Please research http://www.futureofsexeducation.org/. I really do not want the schools teaching MY children about this issue. This is MY responsibility to MY moral code, not anyone else’s. I really do not think a 6th grader should be taught how to use a condom! This type of information WILL eventually be in the schools.

[No one has problem with High Standards, people have problems with experimental Jeb Bush, Bill Gates, federal standards]

There are some serious issues with Common Core. I truly believe if the powers that be did want higher standards, they would have adapted the best state’s standards in the country. Why recreate the wheel with designing another entire standard? The common core standards also are lower in some states, such as Massachusetts. The only reason I can see is there was SO much money to be made by a LOT of people. Pearson is raking it in as well as Achieve and the College Board (not to mention Bill Gates and Jeb Bush). Pearson now have pretty much a monopoly on text books as well as testing materials. The NGA is bought and paid for as well. The CCSSO retains copyright on all the materials and they make disclaimers about the validity of the material! The data mining is also attached to Race to the Top.

Please dig deeper and look into these issues. It is obvious the BESE board has no desire to halt the implementation of this or take any opposing issues seriously. The only recourse we have is through the state legislature. I was so disappointed in the meeting last night as it just seemed politics as usual. I commend Dr. Beebe and Ms. Hill for what they have to deal with this board. If Dr. Beebe did not bring up any of these issues, I dare to think what this board would do on their own. Every vote is always 9-2. Opponents have no chance of any objectivity with this board.

Thank you for your time.

Concerned Parent

Madisonville, LA