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

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

  1. While it will be a long time coming, these constituents can absolutely have their voice heard loud and clear when they go to the polls to vote on their BESE members. These positions have had little interest in the past (except in the last election when 6 of them were indeed bought by the likes of Bloomberg and TFA through their donations to PACs), but those concerned about the way the democratic process has been eroded in education can change that by voting for people who are not endorsed by corporate-interest groups and LABI. We are only lucky that the District 3 (Terrebonne and Lafourche) people woke up a realized that Beebe might be a better advocate than the governor-endorsed Buquet or there’d only be one dissenting voice on the Board now.

    The two gubernatorial appointees will depend on who gets elected governor, so there again, these concerned citizens can have a say by not voting for people who will put their own party and corporate interests 1st (e.g, Vitter).

    She makes some good points, but BESE has its marching orders and won’t budge on this. Most of the Legislature is a lost cause, too. I hate to say it but voter apathy is what got us in the position we are in now with the special interest Board. You can fight back, and the best way to scare back to their greedy Biboa Baggins Hobbit hole is to start paying attention to what’s going on and vote them out of office accordingly.

    1. True.  We will need a candidate for Governor that listens to the people and not the corporations.  That choice will go a long way toward undoing the damage wrought by these folks.  We will also need to vote out a few of the BESE pawns.  I think properly appointed ethics board members will take care of members like Holly Boffy and Kira Orange Jones. (i.e. giving them the boot should they get elected to second terms.)

    1. Lol, they probably are. 🙂

      I personally don’t think sex education is a Common Core issue, per se.  I think there will always be folks with an agenda trying to fit it in whatever vehicle is most likely to take them where they want to go.  Common Core seems to be that vehicle and these particular folks want to use to help drive their agenda. 

      Sex education is a separate issue which many people have strong feelings about.  I am not personally convinced that an abstinence only approach is the best way to address this issue, and I think education on this topic is important, but that is beside the point.

      It appears to me that the reason Sex Education, adult reading choices, lesson plans that reflect biased economic theories (Supply Side or Demand side as the “right” view) or seeming support for different forms of governance like Socialism and Communism is that Common Core is like the Wild West.  CCSS was hurridly adopted, and then rushed at the last minute in Louisiana.  CCSS is promoted as something everyone can build for and share with others, and there is no policing or vetting of material.  While proponents of Common Core are generally correct in their statements that these various Social Studies, pop culture, and Sex education materials labeled as “Common Core” are not “approved” materials by the NGA and CCSSO, opponets are correct that there is very little difference whether they are “officially” approved or not.  Everyone and their pet trained monkey is making, marketing and promoting their materials as Common Core, and because CC is being promoted to districts as something they can empower themselves by adopting independent of any review proces, it should come as no suprise that what gets adopted is full of surprises that dismay and disturb a lot of parents.

      Common Core proponents want to have it both ways.  They want to claim this is a local curriculum empowering districts to make their own choices, but the reality is they are going to have to structure a national framework over what gets approved and disseminated or the chaos we have seen will really only be the tip of the iceburg.  In the end, either this will be local (and thus not “common” across States defeating the purpose of CCSS) and there will be chaos or a restoration of the old order, or this will be national and there will be central control and a loss of local control.

      Common Core proponets cry about the confusion, but in the vaccuum they have created that should be entirly expected. Proponents are afraid to address it head on, for fear of being branded a National Curriculum.  A National Curriculum is exactly what they are trying to be but they are afraid they will lose key supporters if they ever admit it.

    1. Just an FYI, the sexuality stuff is intentionally misleadingly labled “Common Content”, but it is not Common Core. Don’t give those legislators an easy out/refutation when you talk to them.  This still points to a problem in that its hard for parents and  teachers to exericise complete freedom to choose whatever they want, when there will be people out there trying to intentionally mislead folks and no clearing house to review/warn folks of such things.  In my mind this is evidence of a chaotic and poorly planned roll-out with hucksters lining the paths waiting to lure in unsuspecting folks with their junk education products and services.

      http://www.futureofsexeducation.org/documents/josh-fose-standards-web.pdf

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