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.


20 thoughts on “Beth Courtney, LPB and their unethical coverage of Common Core

    1. That was a common core lovefest. Common Core will end poverty, cure cancer, transform warheads into unicorns and make us all poop rainbows from now one. If only the anchient Egyptians had spent less time building Pyramids and more time developing a Common Core we wouldn’t need computers because we would already be able to compute things faster!

  1. I didn’t see the program but I could tell it was biased by the “references” they had on the website. I posted links to local opposing websites in a comment but I doubt my comment will be approved.


    I watched the show and was amazed at how much mis-information is given by the pro CC group. I guess Ms. Bennett didn’t get the memo to take out internationally benchmarked as that is no longer a CC talking point. The above link shows how Ken Bradford is tied to the data mining and the Inbloom scandal that they insist isn’t tied to CC. What I noticed when someone asked about the Catholic Schools there was no mention that Jan Lancaster is tied to the entire voucher program, so of course the New Orleans Diocese is doing CC. What about the Cardinal Newman Society condemning CC for Catholic Schools? Lee Barrios and Rep. Geymann did a great job when they were given the chance to speak. Why wasn’t the Exxon guy asked if he believes Algebra II is STEM ready? Obviously CC will NOT prepare kids for exclusive 4-year colleges as Jason Zimba has stated. Ms. Bennett had no idea what Beth Meyers asked her and she is a teacher leader???? I guess that is how TFA prepares you. When she plugged Stand on Children, that was comical. We all know they are being paid by Gates to promote this. Please look at the link above and you will see all the shady dealings BESE and John Whtie are doing. Common Core needs to go and all the people involved with pushing this need to go as well. Thanks for all you do Jason to keep us informed.

    1. How can these folks champion voucher schools which perform so poorly, and course choice and vouchers which perform poorly and have accountability but say they are for high standards? Since when!

  3. OMG! This is absolutely true. I was a member of the audience, and I came home and told my hubbie how disgusted I was with the whole thing. It was clear to me that the show was engineered to steer the conversation in a certain direction. This is how it went down:

    The producer sent out an email prior to the show saying there was lots of interest in the topic so they wouldn’t be able to get to all of the people for questions. They told us that they would only be asking questions of the people sitting in the chairs on the center aisles. Before we were led into the studio, the producer read off a list of names of people who had “reserved” seats on the aisles that he had specifically invited to participate. When he read off the names, it was obvious that most of them were from pro-common core groups (APEL, TfA, Cain Center, etc.) with the exception of Mike Deshotels and Beth Meyers. However, they had not reserved a seat for Ms. Meyers and had to scramble at the last minute to seat her on the aisle so she would be able to speak. I had a couple of more in-depth questions about implementation that I spent a couple days researching and crafting, but they ran out of time.

    A few other observations – 1) There was no moderator with the panel to help move along the conversation and/or make sure the panelists answered the questions. They have definitely had this in the past for other public square tapings. 2) There were only 2 anti-common core panelists to 3 pro-common core. 3) The “teacher” chosen for the panel was a former TfA corps member, which was not disclosed to the audience, but as soon as she opened her mouth, it was very obvious to me where she got her talking points and that LPB had chosen her at the behest of the DOE. What – they couldn’t find a teacher who had some concerns about CCSS? 4) Each person asking a question used 10 minutes to set up their question – which took up valuable time that could have been used for other audience members to get involved. 5) The pro-common core panelists were never held to the fire to finish answering questions while the anti-common core panelists were grilled by audience questions that seemed to have been coerced or planted.

    I whole-heartedly agree that Beth Courtney was implicit in this deception. She was baiting and jabbing at the anti-common core folks while trying to help along the (sometimes untrue) arguments of the proponents.

    The discourse was so obviously manipulated that it was hard for me to sit there w/o rolling my eyes. The rumblings from the folks around me indicated that they, too, were disappointed with the way it went down. This could have been a 2-3 hour show. There were so many issues that weren’t addressed – probably on purpose.

    I was so pissed when I left the studio that I told myself that I would write a letter to the producer to let them know that I could see through their ploy. I may have been born and educated in La., but I’m not stupid. However, in deference for the organization that I was representing, I don’t think I can do that w/o their approval since Ms. Courtney is a former member – and most of them have no clue about common core other than what they hear on shows like the very biased LPB segment.

    If you have a show that sets itself up as a public debate on issues facing our state’s citizens, then you cannot manipulate that debate to suit your own purposes. You lose all credibility. While I’m not anti-common core because I believe it’s some kind of federal takeover (more like a Gates takeover), there are some legitimate issues with CCSS and the associated high-stakes tests that haven’t been addressed in this state – and we have seen these issues play out in other states that have rushed to implement. LPB did a big disservice to its viewers by making it seem like those who are against common core are against children – they only touched the surface of the conflict.

    1. Thank you for your input. That was painful to watch. I can’t imagine how it must have been for audience members. Im sure the pro panel had advance notice of questions and questions and answers were all well rehearsed.

    2. I’m the producer for LPB’s monthly “Louisiana Public Square.” I’m sorry that you felt that the program was deliberately swayed in one direction. I’ll try to address several of the comments above of which I have/had control.
      – The panel. 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.
      – The questions – None of the panelists were given any questions in advance except for the first one which was “why do you support/oppose common core.”
      – The audience – The audience was randomly recruited with concerted efforts made to include both opponents and proponents. I reached out to Stop Common Core and they provided a representative that unfortunately due to time we did not get to. I also reached out to other opponents – see “Reserved questioners” below. Since the show aired the next night, we taped it as close to “live to tape” as possible since there wouldn’t be much time for editing.
      – Reserved questioners: To make sure we had a good variety of content, I reached out and got confirmations from 4 individuals that were pro-CCSS: Eddie Rispone, TFA, Ryan Booth and A+PEL. Ryan Booth is a conservative who got on my radar when he penned a column for The Hayride – Three individuals were invited who were against – Beth Meyers – her name was provided to me by Stop Common Core; a Stop Common Core member, Kathryn Goppelt and retired educator and blogger Michael Deshotels – he’s been on as a panel when I produced “Charter Checkup” in August. I also reserved a seat for an “undecided” – Lacey Taledano with the West St. Tammany Chamber. As usual, I also reserved a seat for a member of the Legislative Youth Advisory Council which is comprised of high schoolers interested in government. Since this is an age group that Public Broadcasting often ignores, we try to include them each month in the conversation. I had no idea in advance what position the LYAC student(s) had.
      I admit that there had been some confusion about Beth Meyers’ reserved seat because I had received a cancellation that morning from a Bettsie Miller and mistakenly thought they were one and the same. I explained that to Ms. Meyers at the time of the show and assured her she would have a seat. I also explained it to her via email following the taping and she had no problem with that. I also apologized to Ms. Goppelt that we ran out of time and were unable to get to her. I did not reserve a question for anyone from the Cain Center. The moderator made the choice to field their question. And if you will recall, the question from the Legislative Youth Advisory Council student was not pro-Common Core.
      – Balance in content. The video backgrounder piece is the only thing that is scripted and that I have control over when it comes to the content for each month’s show. For the backgrounder piece I again, made a concerted effort to include both proponents and opponents. I interviewed and included soundbites from a current teacher who is disgusted with the Common Core standards – Mercedes Scheider, Ph.D. – as well as from Scott Richard with the Louisiana School Boards Association. In addition, I have posted additional soundbites from both of them that I didn’t have room for in the package on this month’s episode page found here – While there were 3 pro-CCSS interviews as well, I tried to give – content-wise – an equal amount of face time to all while keeping the package under 7 minutes.
      – Length: I definitely agree that you could do a 2 hour special on this topic. However, “Louisiana Public Square” is a monthly one-hour program and that is the time slot that was allotted for the show. We did change the format to have the panelists out from the beginning and also incorporated a larger audience with the hope of touching on a lot of issues. As far as the “10 minutes” setup by folks before they asked their questions, they were all told to “very briefly” explain what their position was then go to their question. If you did view the final edit, I chopped out a lot from the setups to the questions from Mr. Rispone as well as the Cain Center person. Who, if it matters, are both pro-Common Core.

      I agree we only scratched the surface and that’s why I encourage everyone to post their comments online about both the topic and the show at Click on the link for this month’s topic and you can enter comments at the bottom of the page.

      1. I appreciate your comments. I can see you believe you took some pains to make this unbiased but you failed miserably. I do not buy your excuse you did not realize maya was an LDOE plant and supporter, she even stars in videos for LDOE! Holy Shit that’s crazy. A simple google search would have revealed who she is. I will be producing another article on this embarrassing piece you produced. Beth Courtney was absurdly biased. She is the head of your organization, the face of LPB, and she used that position to attack the stacked against panel time after time. Before this piece I did not believe in a conspiracy. However after seeing this piece and listening to guests and your moderator bring up the conspiracy angle on their own to mock it has me reconsidering. You owe an apology to your viewers. Those who were against Common Core are now actually more freaked out by that biased piece. The long lead-in by the republican teacher with the mile wide and inch deep is word for word talking points as was most of Mayas remarks, some of which have been abandoned because they were challenged over and over and no evidence that these are internationally benchmarked has ever been defined or produced. How could you not have asked Maya what her thoughts were on this??? Really. Seriously. If you wanted to have a teacher that was experiencing some of the issues parents are reporting or with reservations you could have picked almost anyone else other than a Common Core teacher leader from TFA that works producing LDOE CCSS content. Who gave you that name??? Ldoe? Most of the audience was TFA and other affiliated groups you called on, not randomly selected at all. If those people submitted their questions ahead of time how can you possibly say no one briefed other panelists? Beth Courtney obviously has a strong opinion, and runs that station and your programming. Her treatment of guests was a joke. I could go on but it doesn’t really matter. She owns you. I have info on your other LDOE guest, Ken Bradford, that will blow his comments out of the water when I put his emails and role at LDOE in context. Seriously though. wtf.

        1. Again, to clarify some incorrect assumptions. The questions weren’t submitted to anyone ahead of time. They were written on cards and held by each person the entire time of the taping. Ms. Taledano via email had discussed what type of question she would be asking. Since she was undecided, I chose her question as the first question since it would be a good way to open the program, allowing each panelist to voice their views on Common Core. And again “Most of the audience was TFA and other affiliated groups you called on, not randomly selected at all” is incorrect as I addressed in detail in my previous comment as to who was given a “reserved question” opportunity. Whether you buy or don’t buy that I did not invite Ms. Bennett as an advocate, it is the truth. LDOE did not make any recommendations to the panel. The only time they were contacted was through repeated requests for Supt. John White to participate. They supplied Ken Bradford instead. And, you bring up conspiracy because “guests” – although it was just one guest – Ryan Booth – brought it up. As you will recall, I invited Mr. Booth because he is a conservative Republican who supports Common Core which seems like a contradiction. I expected he would touch in some detail on his arguments for it as cited in his article, I had no control over what he chose to ask. Again, the only scripted portion of the program was the intro, close and backgrounder piece. LPB has no control over what is said by Ms. Bennett or Mr. Bradford any more than it had control over what was said by Ms. Barrios and Rep. Geymann. I did indeed take pains to bring balance to the program and know that I did not “fail miserably” nor did Mr. Deshotels who congratulated me on a fine show after the taping. If there were points that you felt that Ms. Barrios and Rep. Geymann should have brought up from the anti-Common Core perspective that they did not, again, I invite you to share those on .

          1. Please. I beg you. Watch how Beth coddles the pro common core guests and attacks the opposed. You seem like a nice enough guy from your Facebook page, but you are willing deluding yourself on this.

            Are you really going to assert you did not or could not have known Maya would be rabidly pro-Common core? Come on. Who gave you her name?

            The Hayride supports everything Jindal does. It’s a ridiculous blog. I have a lot of conservative friends. It’s not conservative, it’s just pro-Jindal.

            The questions may not have been submitted to you, but the guests knew they were going to be selected and probably conversed with the panelists outside of program. I will do write-ups on your guests later and why their questions seemed odd.

            You will see why Bradford was a weird choice when I post some of his background. I understand that was not your preference.

            Please respond to this comment:
            The producer sent out an email prior to the show saying there was lots of interest in the topic so they wouldn’t be able to get to all of the people for questions. They told us that they would only be asking questions of the people sitting in the chairs on the center aisles. Before we were led into the studio, the producer read off a list of names of people who had “reserved” seats on the aisles that he had specifically invited to participate. When he read off the names, it was obvious that most of them were from pro-common core groups (APEL, TfA, Cain Center, etc.) with the exception of Mike Deshotels and Beth Meyers. However, they had not reserved a seat for Ms. Meyers and had to scramble at the last minute to seat her on the aisle so she would be able to speak. I had a couple of more in-depth questions about implementation that I spent a couple days researching and crafting, but they ran out of time.

            If this happened how can you not say this was rigged? Seriously? I can get the e-mail which is probably from you. That audience was not representative of Louisiana. Those folks are paid to support Common Core, not parents or teachers who have to endure it or have real questions. It sounds like you selected them and in so doing you rigged the result. Did the center aisle folks know who they were before the taping, that they had reserved seats?

          2. And dude. Michael Deshotels was the first person to comment on this story. Go read the first comment. He is a class act and was nice to you, that is all. Maybe he believed it until he saw what your produced. I spoke with him after and he said this was a farce and he was not happy with what you did although he did appreciate being included.

            Here’s Mike’s comment:
            “You are right Jason. Beth made sure that EXXON got their money’s worth.”

  4. This just adds fuel to the fire to defund PBS. Don’t they realize that their only claim to public funds is the contention they serve the common good? Absent that, the far right wing might just as well pull the plug on them. They are committing suicide, and trying to make us join them. This is truly disgusting. Here in Las Vegas the education reporting is similar, but they can’t gloss over the fact that the Attorney General’s office is investigating virtually the entire school board. Vice has truly been transformed into virtue.

  5. When I saw that Exxon was sponsoring the show, I knew something was up. There had to be a conflict of interests. Well, it didn’t take long to figure it out….a set up..a few plants..a biased moderator…a biased panel…come on people. Do they really think we are THAT dumb? And how rude was that “plant” to Representative Geymann, to actually accuse him of lying about CC being a Federal program and causing fear in the public. Rep.Geymann is telling the truth and knows our Republic is at risk. What a sham LPB is!!!

    1. My favorite slice of ridiculousness was when Courtney twisted an answer around that Lee was giving and asked “Oh. So you don’t think poor children can learn?” or something along those lines. I might have reflexively hit her if I was standing too close to her when I heard that. It would have been uncontrollable. My arm twitched at home.

  6. Can you edit this blog post down to be a letter to the editor, then send to all of the major papers in the state. If you, let me know, I’ll do the same. It’s time LPB gets called out.

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