Beth Courtney, LPB and their unethical coverage of Common Core

Beth Courtney, LPB and their unethical coverage of Common Core

Many people believe that LPB is an unbiased news source. Some people might even think it is a liberal news source. I’ve had my own firsthand experience with how unethical Beth Courtney has acted covering education stories.  Tonight’s show should demonstrate just how biased and ridiculous LPB is and has become under Beth Courtney. If you would like to see what a lopsided and one-sided panel looks like, then check this video out and try to hold your breakfast.

This program was portrayed as a discussion panel for parents to become more informed and to discuss Common Core as a topic, to address parents’ concerns.

Supporters say the standards will increase rigor and help every student learn what they need to succeed. Critics say the standards are untested, being poorly implemented and lower expectations for students.

So, what do Louisiana educators, parents and students think about Common Core? Do the new guidelines encourage students to think and be more persuasive, or do they stifle educational innovation by removing local control?

The bias in this program was so evident it made me ill watching it.  If you watch it you should be very afraid for what this means for our media and our society. This program was paid for by Exxon, one of the chief supporters of Common Core.  Exxon is a big supporter not because they believe this will give them more qualified engineers but because the primary benefactor of Common Core is Bill Gates who is also one of Exxon’s largest shareholders. With this programming purchase they certainly got their money’s worth.

For starters the majority of the panel was composed of supporters.

The panelists include
retired educator and public education activist Lee Barrios: against

Maya Bennett, a Teacher Leader on Common Core; (for CC and former TFA which runs LDOE and is not representative of most teachers)

Ken Bradford from the Louisiana Department of Education; (for CC and the guy that told me John White’s goal was to privatize the entire Department of Education on my last week of work while he was interviewing staff to fire. He oversees an our standard less Virtual Schools and Course Choice providers which don’t require certified teachers and are about as substandard and low quality as you can get. Who gives a crap if those kids are prepared for anything except skipping school and prison? Right Ken Bradford who supports high standards and rigor for our public students?)

Rep. Brett Geymann of Lake Charles: against

ExxonMobil Plant Manager Ken Miller.(for)

Likewise the questions from the audience largely came from supporters with long lead-ins.  She statements are word for word straight from the LDOE handbook and John White (like the mile wide and an inch deep comment.)

80-90% of the time in this program went to pro Common core folks. So that seems about par of the course. . .

Beth Courtney, in her role as moderator, continuously questioned folks who were against common core and made confused faces when they were speaking. She nodded affirmatively and agree with or even expounded on the opinions of those for Common Core. When Lee Barrios or Representative Geymann answered questions directed at them Courtney herself often challenged their answers and even argued with her panel. . . over and over and over.  When Pro Common Core folks made statements that were not backed up she agree and endorsed their assessments immediately and feigned to be perplexed that folks could not understand why these were such good arguments. Courtney is unethical in her role as a moderator, in her role as the head of LPB, in her role as a journalist, but more on this later.

Let me first restate the questions, material and statements made that went unchallenged (as usual) and provide the answers the pro Common Core guests were unable to, and have never been able to answer in any forum.

These are internationally bench marked standards!

This statement is made over and over. It is not true. It was never true. It will never be true no matter how many times they say it or you hear it. No international benchmarks have ever been produced to show that Common Core was “benchmarked” to them. Total BS.

Higher standards will make out students better!

We had some of the highest standards on paper in the nation. Our achievement is very low. High standards do not translate to magically improved performance.  They may even depress performance f they are raised to where they are unreachable or children are promoted before they are ready.  Common Core was rolled out without a phase in or transition period.  This stranded many students and families in an educational nightmare where they didn’t learn what came before, and they will have trouble learning what comes after without this foundation.

These standards will eliminate poverty!

With magic? Will Exxon be giving out Common Core grants? It will take much more than unfunded standards to improve student performance.  Are we supposed to simply discard the students we already have in the pipeline because we sure as hell ain’t educating them or working with the districts who are struggling.  None of them were represented on this program, only one TFA teacher leader.  Whoop de fricken do.

Our low standards have made our students low performers!

Our high poverty is responsible for our low performance. Our poorest district scores poorest. Our wealthiest district performs highest. We are the 48th or 49th poorest state. We score between 47th and 49th on standardized tests. States with the wealthiest populations like Massachusetts score highest on these tests. This is not rocket science folks. These people are not using their Common Core reasoning skills.

Our accountability system will lift our students out of poverty and drive them to achieve!

We have a top 5 or 10 ranked accountability system for the last 10 years or more: Many years the top 1-3. This is an entire generation of school children and that has not improved our students.  I’m talking to you, Varney.  You do realize that after around 12 years we get all new kids, right?  When are we going to see this great improvement from our accountability system if that was actually a factor at all. . .

These standards were developed by educators!

If by “educators” you mean test companies, textbook companies, and Bill Gates and by “include” you actually mean exclude the only two educators on the panel, then yes.

I must confess I do not understand this new Common Core zombie reasoning.  Must. . . . drink. . . . Koolaid!  (brain flavored)

These standards will reverse the trend of fewer students being prepared for college!

There is zero evidence to support this assertion. These standards were thrown together haphazardly, not developed collaboratively, and districts were not prepared to teach them. While it is true we have had more students requiring remediation, this is in no small part due to LDOE decisions to eliminate the Graduate Exit Exam and to endorse “less rigorous standards” for graduating students with career diplomas. These decisions were undertaken by our legislature and Education Committee and embraced by reformers under Paul Pastorek.  We are graduating students less prepared but this is not because of our standards but because of our lax graduation standards and over emphasis on standardized tests to the detriment of teaching our students actual content.

These were voluntary standards developed by the states and not required by the Federal Government!

These were not voluntary for getting federal funding and for the No Child Left Behind requirements which were intentionally designed to be unattainable (100% proficiency of all students, including all Special Education students by 2014) It is quite clear there is overt pressure by the US Department of Education as evidenced by Arne Duncan’s recent comment addressed to soccer moms who he claims are simply upset because their kids are not as smart as they thought they were.

People against Common core don’t want kids to learn multiplication tables in 3rd grade!

I heard this one during this program. Just shut up and sit down idiot. (This was the answer this person should have gotten.)

Here’s the straight dope.

No training was provided to most districts.

The materials supporting Common Core are mostly crap.

I will show you how LDOE and John White intentionally sabotaged Common Core in my upcoming post on the subject.

Common Core is about power.  It is about handing our children and their education over to corporations who want to churn them out as human capital or up as waste products if they don’t fit in their machine.

But for now I will leave you with my little experience with Beth Courtney and LPB. I was working on a story about Shadow Schools with one of her reporters. Week after week she made new demands for me to get expert witnesses, to appear in the video, to say this thing or that thing. Week after week my story was killed at the last minute. What I later learned was John White and his staff called Beth, who is reported to be a big Bobby Jindal fan and supporter, and they asked her not to do the story when they were notified of it for comment. She said this story about Shadow Schools, unfavorable to LDOE and Iberville, would never air on “her station.” (Shadow Schools are all the rage for Common Core proponents who want to hold students and districts accountable to higher standards – by hiding them.)

I was a bit shocked to learn Beth demands stories and cancels stories to show issues the way she wants to show them. She is not unbiased and as the head of a “public” broadcasting station her reporting and coverage is far from even ethical in my opinion. I have been told Beth treats her reporters like children, and she as their horrible abusive mother, and the Louisiana Public Broadcasting Station like her personal playroom. I had trouble believing this myself when I first heard it, until I received this anonymous recording of what I was told was Beth Courtney dressing down one of her reporters named “Jeff” Duhe. Her language is a bit brutal, her treatment psychologically damaging, but I am told this is how she treats many of her employees if they try to cover stories honestly, so I can’t really say I blame them for doing whatever she says and then getting the hell out of there when they get a chance.

Here is an article describing the situation and ethics fine she was hit with over it.

fired employee releases an audio recording of his heated meeting with Louisiana Public Broadcasting President and CEO Beth Courtney.
February 28, 2006

Jeff Duhé says he’s the one who blew the whistle on Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s President and Chief Executive Officer Beth Courtney, who was recently fined $10,000 by the Louisiana Board of Ethics. At least that’s what Duhé told Accuracy in Media, a conservative media watchdog group. He also released an audio recording he made of a 2004 tongue-lashing he received at the hands of his former boss.

On Jan. 24, Cliff Kincaid, editor of the AIM Report, the online newsletter of AIM, revealed that Duhé had reported Courtney to the ethics board. On Jan.12, the board ruled that Courtney and her husband, Bob, had violated state ethics laws prohibiting state employees and their family members from doing business with the state agency where the employee works. Bob Courtney’s company, Courtney Communications, was paid $46,869 by John Camp Productions Inc. to develop three documentaries.

Duhé told AIM: “Just after I reported her unethical activities to the governor’s executive counsel, I was fired. A thorough, hate- and profanity-filled screaming fit came first, of course. Anybody want to hear it? I’ve got it in MP3 now. It’s 52 minutes long.”

We wanted to hear it. On Jan. 26, at our request, Duhé directed The Independent Weekly to a Web page with an audio MP3 file. But the audio was only 16 minutes long, not the 52 minutes Duhé claimed he had.

I have a copy here in case you would like to hear what goes on behind closed doors at LPB.

Yes folks. This is what a supporter of Common Core sounds like. This is the person responsible for our children’s programming and now for orchestrating their reprogramming under Common Core.

This charade has gone on long enough.

Save our Babies

Stop Common Core.