Upcoming Crawfish Related Events . . . for the next month or so

For those of you wishing to meet up with me in ways other than Twitter, Blog, Facebook or e-mail, here is a list of upcoming events where you will be able to spot me, listen to me blather on, or chat me up.

Saturday February 1st Coach Frank on “What’s Going On” from 4:00pm to 5:00pm Central (radio appearance)

http://www.wbok1230am.com/

We will be discussing education issues, cheating in New Orleans, and the story I did on Mary D. Cogwell and Coach Frank.

If a charter cheats in the forest, and nobody makes a sound, do they still meet their AYP?

Thursday February 20th from 6pm Central . . . till my ears bleed. Common Core Information Forum, Baton Rouge. . (In-person; as a random guest not as a speaker or backup dancer)

https://crazycrawfish.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/common-core-information-forum-february-20th-6pm/

More Common Core information than anyone should have to be tormented with, but I want to hear some of this info from the source. Common Core is still around folks. Come out and hear what these guys have to say if you want to know the truth behind the fictional highly promoted account that organizations bribed by Bill Gates regurgitate on cue.

Sunday February 23 with Shaun Johnson and Tim Slekar on At the Chalk Face, progressive EdReform radio, from 5pm to 6pm Central (radio appearance)

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/chalkface/2014/02/23/at-the-chalk-face-progressive-edreform-radio

Specific topics to be determined. . . I have a feeling it will be about education issues and not my Lego collection (which was immense until I shared it with my son.)

Ok, this one is creepy

Saturday and Sunday March 1st and March 2nd
in Austin Texas at the NPE Conference. (In-person panelist both days)

https://crazycrawfish.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/national-public-education-conference-in-austin-march-1st-and-2nd-guess-whos-going/

We will be discussing student and teacher privacy and data sharing issues; how we exposed sales and sharing of student data; and legislation you being introduced in our states and around the nation. I will also be floating around to different sessions throughout these two days to collaborate, share ideas and strategize. It’s possible I might have time for a beer or three in the evening and talk smack about deformers. (I have a tendency to get very loud when engaging in either one of these activities so be forewarned to bring your earplugs if you tag along with me in the evening.)

I have no expectation of privacy after a few beers. . .

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Louisiana Progress Social Media videos available

For those of you who missed the Social Media Summit put by Louisiana Progress this past weekend during our Louisiana Blizzard:  Here’s the link to all the footage in smaller byte-sized YouTube chunks. Edushyster and I got into a little amusing discussion about being anonymous bloggers at around minute 40-42 or so of her keynote speech during the Q and A part of her session. Don’t tell her husband or my wife, but between you and me, I’m pretty sure she has a thing for guys with claws.

 

If you want to see the education bloggers panel specifically you can use this link:

http://www.youtube.com/embed/U468VB_583Q?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

I am the first speaker. I was out chatting in the hall too long so I got stuck with a weird roller chair that reclined a little too much, and just a sliver of table because Michael Deshotels was hogging it all, so I’m constantly fidgeting throughout my section. J

Note to self: if you plan to use your phone as a substitute for index cards next time, make sure you turn the screen shutoff to longer than 30 seconds. (For a social media technology guy, sometimes I’m not all that bright.)

This was fun and I hope to do it again, but next time I’m taking the center spot. Who invited Mercedes anyways? She doesn’t even have a twitter account! #WhyMercedesIsLame Hopefully Jennifer was able to secretly sign her up for one after the conference. . . .

Tom needs a Twitter account too but I’m not telling him. . . He’s probably got plenty of dirt on me. . . I am a mud bug after all. #StayingOffTomsRadar

The LPB Common Core Cover-up Continues

Recently the producer of LPB’s monthly Louisiana Public Square, Kevin Gautreaux, reached out to me to address some concerns I raised on my blog about LPB’s recent show on Common Core. The show was horribly biased, you can view it here. http://beta.lpb.org/index.php/publicsquare/topic/01_14_-_decoding_common_core/

I wrote a post condemning the obvious one-sidedness of the whole production.

https://crazycrawfish.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/beth-courtney-lpb-and-their-unethical-coverage-of-common-core/

At best you could say the pre-recorded intro spots were balanced. The majority of the production most certainly was not.

Kevin tried to convince me that he was not aware that Maya Bennett was a Common Core advocate. I find that exceptionally hard to believe considering their own byline for her indicated as much.

 

Nevertheless, here is part of Kevin’s response to me.

I made an effort to include an equal number of pro-CCSS folks – LDOE rep and ExxonMobil Rep – and con-CCSS folks – Retired Educator and State Legislator. It was my understanding that Maya Bennett was not an advocate for the CCSS but invited to participate to address questions that would arise from teachers having difficulties with implementing the standards since that is what she does as a Teacher Leader. I agree that she was definitely an advocate.

Kevin Gautreaux, the producer for LPB’s monthly “Louisiana Public Square.

He agrees she was definitely an advocate. . .

Ya think?

I don’t think John White is as big an advocate of CCSS as Maya.

I wonder what finally gave it away?

Kevin needs to tell us who gave him the “understanding” that Maya was just an ordinary teacher. Kevin was gravely misled, or he is misleading us. There is no way the person that referred Maya to Kevin did not know of her background, which was easily googleable.

Kevin might also want to read LPB’s own bio of Maya on his website promoting this piece and Maya Bennett. Her title is Common Core teacher leader. Her title on the program is the same. How on earth could she not be considered an advocate??? Come on Kevin and LPB. Are you that stupid, or do you think we are that stupid?

 

Here’s the link to Maya’s Linkedin for additional goodies on her background as just an average Louisiana teacher.

http://www.linkedin.com/in/mayabennett

Maya is a former Miss Teach for America, a Stand for Children All-star and literally the LDOE poster child for Common Core. She stars in an introductory video that LDOE produced and loaded to their CCSS Toolbox, (which will probably get more hits from my referral than the last year it’s been available for viewing because by most accounts I’ve heard the toolbox is a useless cruel joke used to torture teachers into believing LDOE wants to help them.

Link to LDOE video here: http://bit.ly/16zjopV with their CCSS star Maya Bennett.

You know, just a random undecided teacher LPB decided to include to represent Louisiana teacher viewpoints.

Before this show I was not sold on the idea that there is a “Common Core conspiracy.” After watching this LPB show, which is supposed to represent the public, not a specific viewpoint as the moderator Beth Courtney did, as the majority pre-selected or moderator selected audience did, and as the panel selection obviously did, now I’m starting to wonder if maybe there isn’t more truth to that than I thought.

The proponents brought up the “conspiracy is ridiculous” argument themselves multiple times and derided it, but there is this manipulation of a public broadcasting station for private and governmental gain.

Methinks they doth protest too much.

What thinks thee?

My Summary and Thoughts of the Progressive Social Media Summit + (my original speech)

This is by no means meant to be a complete summary of this awesome experience put on by Louisiana Progress, but I thought I would share a few thoughts of mine that came out of this get together. The livestream for this summit was www.louisianaprogress.org/live I was told Louisiana Progress will post a link to the video in a few days. When they do so I will update this post.

Before I start with my summary I wanted to thank all the folks that put this together and especially all of my fans who came out for this event just to see me. I was truly touched and amazed by this, that people from other cities around the state would drive through what for us, in Louisiana, were treacherous and dismal conditions, sometimes stuck in traffic for hours, just to come out and see me. I’m not sure I made my appreciation known at the time, but I was really blown away by your interest in me and your passion for improving our state. Your gestures made my work that much more rewarding and a simple thank you from me seems inadequate. I will promise to continue with my work and I hope to include those of you with the interest and time as well in the future. As was discussed at the summit and I discussed with some of you, I am very interested in hosting guest blogger posts or opinions. As was the case for Bob Mann, one of my most popular posts was a speech I heard and reposted, that someone else wrote. Our words have power.

It was also great to see many of my personal heroes up close and in person. Hopefully I didn’t talk too much (I know I did talk too much, but hopefully not so much as to have been super annoying) as I tend to do when I’m excited. . . If someone had told me 2 years ago I would be sharing a stage (or in this case a fold out table) with these folks I would have told them they were crazier than I pretend to be.

Here are some points I’d like to highlight:

  • Bob Mann suggested turning our blogs over to others for guest spots or posts. I have posted blog posts or Letters to the Editor for Savvy Squash, Pegleg Mickey, Samantha Thibodaux, Lottie Bebee, Debbie Sachs and others from time to time. I also reblog the content of others to cross-pollinate work that I think is important for my readers to see.
  • An idea was raised by me and other folks throughout the day of reaching out to parents and other stakeholders through other types of media such as radio, podcasts and YouTube videos that people could play in their cars on the way to work (not the videos). These forms of contact might be easier for many folks to work into their daily lives and stay abreast of issues important to them.
  • Dayne Sherman discussed some tricks we can use to reach legislators attention more prominently through texts even if you don’t have their phone number. I will review his info when the video is posted and provide a little summary.
  • Zach Koppelin described all the hard work that goes into making something go “viral.” While I choose to provide constant updates rather than fewer widely reaching content, for more significant national content his ideas and methods could prove very valuable in the future.
  • Jennifer Berkshire (Edushyster) mentioned a potentially flammable situation in New Orleans related to the elimination of choice for many parents coupled with more brutal and unforgiving discipline policies than most of us would put up with for our own children. I had already been investigating these issues and will continue to do so until I have enough for a piece or two.
  • We all agreed we need more gatherings like this to communicate with each other and with the public. The idea was mentioned that we should try engaging PTA groups, as well as local civic organizations and parents groups to answer questions. The Louisiana Department of Education does a terrible job of reaching out to parents and individual stakeholders, preferring to use large flashy advertisements and endorsements. Rather than listening to parents concerns they try to wear them down with long presentations and power points, and faux experts and research groups like Stand For Children and CREDO.
  • Most of our local media appears to be wedded to the idea of replacing public education with “anything else” (as the advocate’s editorial board relayed to fellow education blogger Michael Deshotels). As a result they almost unfailingly provide favorable and often fawning coverage to Bobby Jindal and John White’s education policies, ignoring all but the most egregious failings.

 

Here was what I intended to say at the summit. (Canned laughter not included.) I know I drifted off my talking points in a few spots but hopefully I conveyed most of this message. I inserted some comments I thought of after in green.

Good afternoon. I want to thank Louisiana Progress for putting together this little shindig on for us to all get acquainted in person, instead of just behind a computer or phone screen.

My name is Jason France, and I run a local education and politics blog called Crazy Crawfish. I also answer to “Crazy” and “Crawfish” as a result. But there are much worse things to be called, like Bobby Jindal, John White or David Vitter.

I started my blog about 2 years ago after leaving the Louisiana Department of Education, but that was not my intent when I left. I knew I did not want to take part in the destruction of Public Education when I left, but what I did not know is no one would listen to my warnings or investigate the things I told them that were happening to public education, and even public service as a whole!

I contacted numerous reporters, government agencies and politicians over the weeks and months that would follow my departure, but no one responded and no one heeded my calls. To them I was a nobody and I would come to learn that corporations have bought up most of our newspapers and TV news not to inform us but to herd us toward their coffers. [Something I thought of during the conference is that now people ignore me because they know who I am. Not sure if that is an improvement but it is amusingly ironic.]

I realized I would have to do something myself, but for most of my life I have been very shy and introverted. To do something would require me to open myself up to people and expose myself to criticism and scrutiny. What I was contemplating seemed crazy, which is one of the reasons I picked that part of my name.

But I realized the real folks without power are our children who can’t speak up. My own children, other people’s children. To remain silent was no longer an option. [When a bout of shyness starts to overtake me during a public speaking situation I try to picture myself standing in front of my children and that they would have to be the ones to fight for their rights if I did not. I do not use the technique where you picture everyone that you are speaking to is naked.]

So I spoke out, and nothing happened. So I tried again, and again. I went to public meetings, met with other activists in the community and listened to their problems and reported on them. Before long people did start to notice, and other people started contacting me directly to report their problems, for me to report their stories.

Today I’m no longer a nobody. [Well, perhaps just less of a nobody?] None of us are. When we all work together; when we all tell our stories and refuse to be misled or to go with the flow because we are afraid, we all become somebodies together.

That is what those in power fear the most. I am just here to do my part, but all of us working together through our blogs, Facebook pages, twitter feeds and communities can do so much more. I see this as just the beginning and I hope we can all continue to build on this together.

Thank you.

 

The backstory of EBR “cheating” scandal

Recently John White has been trying to stir up a lot of controversy about what he initially called a “cheating” scandal.  Here is one of the earlier reports of what is turning out to be a completely made up EBR cheating scandal.  He unloads quite a laundry list but to date has not been able to back it up and has scaled it back every time anyone asks about it.  However the damage he made to public perception may already be done, which was probably his intent from the start. . .

Here is a brief synopsis of what happened and what I’ve heard cobbled together from several sources.

LDOE reported in the media that EBR was being investigated for a cheating related scandal.  When asked about Chas Roemer said he was briefed and “very concerned” about what he had heard.  (Who knows what that was since he never elaborated. ) When EBR and others started investigating and asking specific questions about this scandal, LDOE tried to change it to a massive graduation fixing scandal that was reported by an anonymous tipster.  When this story was questioned LDOE admitted it involved one child who may or may not belong to an EBR school board member that may have been marked as a graduate while being 1 credit short.  EBR claimed this was caught, LDOE has not released the text of the anonymous “tipster” to my knowledge (which they could do and redact the identity) if any such tipster actually existed.  Now LDOE is frantically trying to search for any evidence of erroneous data to try and smear EBR with.

This is not a new technique. LDOE uses audits to try and intimidate and drum up negative material on districts they are targeting for takeovers.  They have reportedly audited St Helena at least 7 different times in the last few years trying to get enough dirt to take over the rest of their school district.  This may be in part due to a personal dispute between Jessica Tucker Bagian (former TFA recruit and current head of Accountability and LDOE) and Superintendent Dr. Kelli Joseph, who Bagian is reported to be holding a personal grudge against because she was once a teacher that reported to Dr. Joseph when Joseph was her principal.

Once LDOE targets your district for takeover, expect them to pull out the dirty tricks textbook and go through it play by play.

LDOE does not really care about data or cheating of allies and may even encourage it to bolster their case for more charters and reform policies.  Many districts have been accidentally or intentionally masking dropouts for years by flagging them as entering adult education programs. . .from which they never receive a GED and never get marked as dropouts, thus dramatically improving the state’s dropout rate while not significantly improving their completer rate.  I reported this error to them many times.  I’ve had some honest districts reach out to me about this after I resigned and I helped them correct it.

LDOE doesn’t even care if some school districts don’t even report entire schools to them like in St James and Iberville. (They built brand new schools, Academies, which they send high achieving students to which have never been reported to LDOE and thus skew accountability for their entire parishes.)  As long as the superintendents are subservient or completely compliant to their demands, they can get away with almost anything.

https://crazycrawfish.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/east-iberville-and-msa-east-are-actually-the-same-school-probably-connected-by-an-underground-metro-system-my-bad/

https://crazycrawfish.wordpress.com/2012/09/30/st-james-parish-is-proudly-displaying-that-the-science-and-math-academy-is-part-of-both-lutcher-and-st-james-high-schools/

https://crazycrawfish.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/atlanta-you-aint-got-nothin-on-cheatin-compared-to-louisiana/

EBR superintendent Bernard Taylor and Superintendent White have long had a contentious relationship.  In no small part due to the fact White and LDOE see EBR as a vulnerable and valuable next target for privatization of the public schools in the model of New Orleans.  We even have a New Schools for Baton Rouge program lead by a former LDOE staffer selecting charter schools for most of North Baton Rouge.  The reason for this timing is because of South Baton Rouge though.  With the new legislative session starting in a month or so, White is/was trying to drum up reasons to implicate EBR in some sort of scandal damage the perception of EBR in the news and minds of EBR citizens so they and the legislature would be more inclined to vote to divide Baton Rouge into two cities, St George and Baton Rouge.  This would allow St George to form their own wealthier whiter district in the south, taking 2 thirds of the sales tax revenue dedicated to all EBR public schools in the process.  This would simultaneously bankrupt the EBR system by saddling them all the retirement costs and paying of the bonds for the schools in the South they no longer owned, while also dramatically lowering their SPS scores making it possible for the State to take over all of East Baton Rouge’s remaining schools.  After just getting hit with a 1.5 billion dollar judgment for how they handled kicking out veteran teachers in New Orleans, you can be sure all the teachers will be put on a RIF (Reduction in Force) list and simply never called back to create a lot of unemployed teachers in both the new city of St George (many of which work in the incorporated zone and all of which won’t be employable in a new St George school system.

However the strangest twist I have heard is that all of this scheming was done at the behest of Jindal staffers and some legislators which may even include Senator Bodi White, who sponsored the successful drives to create Central, Zachary and Baker school systems and is the driving force behind the creation of new School District and now a new city in south Baton Rouge in the form of the proposed city of St George.

My what a tangled web we weave, Louisiana.

If anyone finds the smoking gun about intentional lying and collusion Jindal may have his own Chris Christie Bridge Scandal to explain before his presidential run.

Based on these comments on a Nola.com article about this “scandal” White’s tactics appear to be working.

comments

Alert! Alert! Danger Will Robinson. Misleading Phone Survey on Common Core being made right now!

Alert! Alert! Danger Will Robinson. Misleading Phone Survey on Common Core being made right now!

This just in.

More Common Core spin.

PHONE SURVEY ******
a phone survey is being done on COMMON CORE here in Louisiana. Each and every question referred to “State Standards” and were “push poll” questions making the “State Standards” sound great.

IF YOU GET THIS CALL: please answer NO or DO NOT AGREE to their misleading questions.

Although they then cover reasons why “some” are opposed it is very short and thin on those reasons.

I am for State Standards.

Common Core are Federal Standards and Commercial Standards not State Standards.

Guest Blogger, PegLeg Mickey, returns with some ill tidings and tidbits

Guest Blogger, PegLeg Mickey, returns with some ill tidings and tidbits


EBR Supe Pokes White in the Eye

In the grogshop this week, I heard a snatch of conversation that warmed my rotten soul. There’s been a bit of story boiling up in the Advocate about the LDoE investigating East Baton Rouge Parish for cheating on tests and then it switched to graduation. Seems some counselor okayed a student graduating when the student was short one credit.

Considering the number of students who graduate from EBR public schools each year, I think one error is pretty small potatoes, but it seems “White Lies” White wanted to investigate 4 years of graduation data. I’ve been very surprised that nothing more has shown up in the Advocate on the topic.

It seems Superintendent Taylor told White that he’d have access to the data as soon as he produced the law or policy that allowed the LDoE to dig around in the district’s records. Ain’t that a poke in the eye. The district is fairly certain that the LDoE will be looking for anything they can use to harass Taylor and the district, not just checking credits. It’s been obvious for a long time now that White and his minions the Rubber Stamp BESE, and their mouthpiece, TheAdvocate, would like to convert EBR into another RSD system like the one in Orleans.

Accountability policy DOES allow for auditing graduation data. The accountability staff is sharp enough to evaluate the data and point out a few choice spots where problems are highly likely to be found. An MFP audit is also well within the rights of the LDoE. Seems White may be cowering a bit because a few legislators have jumped into the fray on EBR’s side. The session starts early this year, and there are predictions that Jindal has lost some support. The Common Core hullabaloo has yet to diminish, and of course Bobby still has hopes to gather his stupid party members (his words) for a run at the White House … but I meander.

Kudos to Taylor for poking White in the eye.


Maybe he can gouge it out next time.

I know a few good stores that carry eye patches.

A salty tidbit – there are murmurings of Pointe Coupee Central High School being turned back over to the district.

You read it here first.

                   

For the full press release from Mickey  please refer to the following PDF, which I was not able to format as a blog post.

EBR Supe Pokes White in the Eye

Notes from CCF

This is the first I’ve heard of Pointe Coupee being returned to the school district but not the first but not the first time I’ve heard of the highly publicized but completely made up EBR cheating scandal.  Quite a laundry list.

Here is a brief synopsis of what happened and what I’ve heard cobbled together from several sources.

LDOE reported in the media that EBR was being investigated for a cheating related scandal.  When asked about Chas Roemer said he was briefed and “very concerned” about what he had heard.  (Who knows what that was since he never elaborated. ) When EBR and others started investigating and asking specific questions about this scandal, LDOE tried to change it to a massive graduation fixing scandal that was reported by an anonymous tipster.  When this story was questioned LDOE admitted it involved one child who may or may not belong to an EBR school board member that may have been marked as a graduate while being 1 credit short.  EBR claimed this was caught, LDOE has not released the text of the anonymous “tipster” to my knowledge (which they could do and redact the identity) if any such tipster actually existed.  Now LDOE is frantically trying to search for any evidence of erroneous data to try and smear EBR with. 

This is not a new technique. LDOE uses audits to try and intimidate and drum up negative material on districts they are targeting for takeovers.  They have reportedly audited St Helena at least 7 different times in the last few years trying to get enough dirt to take over the rest of their school district.  This may be in part due to a personal dispute between Jessica Tucker Bagian (former TFA recruit and current head of Accountability and LDOE) and Superintendent Dr. Kelli Joseph, who Bagian is reported to be holding a personal grudge against because she was once a teacher that reported to Dr. Joseph when Joseph was her principal. 

Once LDOE targets your district for takeover, expect them to pull out the dirty tricks textbook and go through it play by play.

LDOE does not really care about data or cheating of allies and may even encourage it to bolster their case for more charters and reform policies.  Many districts have been accidentally or intentionally masking dropouts for years by flagging them as entering adult education programs. . .from which they never receive a GED and never get marked as dropouts, thus dramatically improving the state’s dropout rate while not significantly improving their completer rate.  I reported this error to them many times.  I’ve had some honest districts reach out to me about this after I resigned and I helped them correct it.

LDOE doesn’t even care if some school districts don’t even report entire schools to them like in St James and Iberville. (They built brand new schools, Academies, which they send high achieving students to which have never been reported to LDOE and thus skew accountability for their entire parishes.)  As long as the superintendents are subservient or completely compliant to their demands, they can get away with almost anything. 

https://crazycrawfish.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/east-iberville-and-msa-east-are-actually-the-same-school-probably-connected-by-an-underground-metro-system-my-bad/

https://crazycrawfish.wordpress.com/2012/09/30/st-james-parish-is-proudly-displaying-that-the-science-and-math-academy-is-part-of-both-lutcher-and-st-james-high-schools/

https://crazycrawfish.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/atlanta-you-aint-got-nothin-on-cheatin-compared-to-louisiana/

EBR superintendent Bernard Taylor and Superintendent White have long had a contentious relationship.  In no small part due to the fact White and LDOE see EBR as a vulnerable and valuable next target for privatization of the public schools in the model of New Orleans.  We even have a New Schools for Baton Rouge program lead by a former LDOE staffer selecting charter schools for most of North Baton Rouge.  The reason for this timing is because of South Baton Rouge though.  With the new legislative session starting in a month or so, White is/was trying to drum up reasons to implicate EBR in some sort of scandal damage the perception of EBR in the news and minds of EBR citizens so they and the legislature would be more inclined to vote to divide Baton Rouge into two cities, St George and Baton Rouge.  This would allow St George to form their own wealthier whiter district in the south, taking 2 thirds of the sales tax revenue dedicated to all EBR public schools in the process.  This would simultaneously bankrupt the EBR system by saddling them all the retirement costs and paying of the bonds for the schools in the South they no longer owned, while also dramatically lowering their SPS scores making it possible for the State to take over all of East Baton Rouge’s remaining schools.  After just getting hit with a 1.5 billion dollar judgment for how they handled kicking out veteran teachers in New Orleans, you can be sure all the teachers will be put on a RIF (Reduction in Force) list and simply never called back to create a lot of unemployed teachers in both the new city of St George (many of which work in the incorporated zone and all of which won’t be employable in a new St George school system. 

However the strangest twist I have heard is that all of this scheming was done at the behest of Jindal staffers and some legislators which may even include Senator Bodi White, who sponsored the successful drives to create Central, Zachary and Baker school systems and is the driving force behind the creation of new School District and now a new city in south Baton Rouge in the form of the proposed city of St George.

My what a tangled web we weave, Louisiana.