New Orleans Recovery School District *Choice*

To paraphrase slightly, I think Ashana Bigard explained it best when she said it’s not about informing new parents how to choose the best school for their kids, but rather choosing the least worst school. This is the model coming to every corner of Louisiana if we don’t fight tooth and nail for our own schools and our own children. The people that claim New Orleans is a success are by and large the ones who don’t send their kids to these schools, and who make money off of the privatization of our schools. The next time you hear someone telling you about how great the schools in New Orleans are, ask them how many of their kids are attending public school there. Chances are they have their kids in a private school, their kids already graduated, or they have no kids and are just here to make a buck and name for themselves before they pack up and ransack another already impoverished city.

deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog

The state-run Recovery School District (RSD) in New Orleans is about appearance, not truth. It is about control, not choice.

I have written extensively on the “RSD success” illusion. It is an illusion that has come to the New Orleans community at great cost.

Below is a firsthand account of life in the RSD written by New Orleans parent advocate Ashana Bigard and originally posted on Edushyster’s blog.

Bigard’s account provides a sobering reminder that the state-run RSD exploits New Orleans families.

Big Easy, Little Choice

Is New Orleans-style school choice a model or a cautionary tale?

New Orleans parent advocate Ashana Bigard.

By Ashana Bigard
When I talk about *choice* in New Orleans I use quotations with both fingers and I wink too. Supposedly we have what’s called a *choice model for excellent education* but the reality is that the overwhelming majority of…

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Why are TFA and “reformers” perhaps the least interested in reform?

Why are TFA and “reformers” perhaps the least interested in reform?

Another good critique of TFA. A “reform” group that rejects reform of itself even after 20 years and attaining status quo status in their own right. A TFA alum speaks out about how she would like to see TFA reform themselves, if they are really interested in making children’s educational lives better…

Cloaking Inequity

Why are TFA and, more generally, “reformers” perhaps the least interested in reform? Why do they get defensive when faced with critiques based on empiricism (data and research) and efficacy (is their reform working)? See for example Jonathan Alter get defensive when I discuss charter school data and research on the Melissa Harris-Perry show. He went Jerry Springer. Is it because their reform is driven by ideology rather than the best interests of children and society? During the past week, TFA alumni have joined members of the public in the #resistTFA movement and put forth a variety of suggestions for #reformTFA. Some Twitter users responded to the critique and framed it as “hate” and “attacks.”

TFA has gone about their usual approach of engaging the critique with their strategy of “let’s agree” and “we are all on the same side” and “we care about the same things.” so they…

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A rallying cry story and call to action for the Common Core destroyers among us

A rallying cry story and call to action for the Common Core destroyers among us

Parents are getting creative about how they are showing their displeasure towards the Common Core, and the would-be supporters of it. Those of us who oppose the Core realize these corporation and organizations have very little grasp of what is contained in the Core. They are supporting the “idea” of the Core. I can actually understand and relate to that. At first the idea sounded reasonable enough to me and I required a lot of proof from folks I already trusted and worked with on many other educational projects. I spent many months listening, really listening; to both sides and trying to see if there was a middle ground. It wasn’t until I researched what was actually in it, saw how it was actually implemented (or not), learned about the lack of qualifications of the creators, learned that the international benchmarking was a myth made up to sound impressive, saw the tragically negative impact on children and their families, and heard the debunking of numerous myths and misrepresentations from the mouths of experienced and qualified educators not paid to spout unsupported platitudes, that I realized just how wrong and hostile Common Core has transformed the education landscape. Many companies supporting the Core were assured by other companies, educational leaders and politicians, donors, and wealthy stockholders like the Walton Family and Bill Gates (who created the Core) that the Core is the greatest thing for education since the pencil and chalkboard and computer. These companies have accepted on blind faith and trust that this will prepare students to run their cash registers, work in their factories, run their printing presses, and engineer their products and make a stronger country for us all. It’s a laudable goal (for the most part and from their perspective.)

The problem is . . . it’s all a lie.

First of all, claiming the Core can do all this is a ginormous unproven assertion. (You might as well throw in that it can cure Cancer and bring World Peace too.) These “standards” or jumbled and comma spliced “skills” as the only English Language Arts evaluator of Common Core, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, recently explained at a local Common Core Summit held in Baton Rouge on the 20th of February, were never field tested, never tried out on anyone, ever, before they were forced upon all children everywhere in every setting (public and private schools) Frankly, I can’t imagine any successful company banking an entire generation of their workers on an untested decades long retraining program.

This leads me to my second point. Most companies that did not invest time and money in Common Core, or who are not hoping to make fists full of cash off the Common Core in the form of textbooks, tests, and training and tutoring programs, or educational software, have no idea what’s actually in these national “standards.”

I understand.

I really do.

But ignorance is not a defense (legal or moral) once you have been informed.

To that end I encourage all of you to inform these companies of what Common Core means to you, and what it will come to mean to their business (or lack thereof) if they keep blindly supporting what is essentially a corporately driven confiscation and retooling of our taxpayer funded educational system, of our children’s educations, for their own Human Capital needs and profit driven agendas. Below is an example of how one mom informed a company on the list of supporters I will provide to you and update as we pick them off or stubbornly dig their feet in. (Those will face a more coordinated boycott and negative publicity campaign at a later date.)

Without further ado, here is one of what I hope will be many success stories in the near future. Well done, Debbie. You have made many of us proud with this act.

Hi All,

Oh – I am laughing!!  I had the best time today!  I walked into Chase Bank armed with information on Common Core (list of all the businesses sponsoring CC, the Parent’s Beware Flier, a picture of the Stop Common Core Billboard on my phone( less than 6 blocks from the bank).

I asked to meet with an officer of the bank.  I told her how satisfied I was with Chase [bank], but that I could not support a bank that is supporting/promoting CC.  I explained to her how they are gathering all the health information, etc. on the children and how they could potentially profile children for future job interviews, etc. She had no idea.  I also explained to her how damaging the curriculum is.

When I told her that this information on companies promoting /supporting Common Core was given to me yesterday at a forum with @ 400 people in Baton Rouge and that this information was being put on Face Book – she immediately walked back with the papers and showed it to the manager who then wanted to know which Face Book this was posted too!

I then told her that I would be happy to come back and bank at Chase when they send me a letter that they are no longer supporting/promoting Common Core.  I also told her that the rest of my family will be pulling their money out of Chase as well.  She thanked me and told me that she had a son in the 4th grade and that she was going to look into this.

The irony is that I do not have a Face Book, so those of you who do, please post and if you (or your spouse) do not feel comfortable posting a particular company on your Face Book – just delete that one company and post the rest.   I know of at least one person who is alerting his company to this bad press.  Many companies want to shut this type of bad press down before it gets out of hand.  Politicians are pushing this on our kids because corporations are pushing this on them.  Remember – who are big donors to political campaigns?  Who are referring to our children as human capital to be used( cheap labor) in their work force?

Resource Bank and Parish National Bank both have teachers connected to presidents and past presidents of these local banks.  I know Resource has recently expanded from St. Tammany to the South Shore.  Be sure and tell these institutions why you are transferring your money there.  I resent the attachment with an updated list of all the businesses to boycott. 🙂

Have A Great Week End!

Debbie Sachs

To learn more please refer to Dr. Mercedes Schneider’s post:

Link to pdf with details on Boycott and list of companies to target for their support of Common Core: tuna fish and common core2

My kids belong themselves and  to me; not to you, or your community, or company.
My kids belong themselves and to me; not to you, or your community, or any company.

Teachers Speaking out Against Common Core – (What was promised, was not what was delivered)

Teachers Speaking out Against Common Core – (What was promised, was not what was delivered)

This information comes from our friends at LAPACC, Louisiana Parents Against Common Core.

In this post, you will find the testimony of a Louisiana teacher. The identity of this teacher will not be revealed, you will just have to trust that we have verified this to be from an actual teacher.

We hope that this brave teacher’s testimony will open the flood gates. We invite each and every Louisiana teacher to send us their up close and personal look at what Common Core is doing to education. All you have to do is email

Thank you, brave teacher. We thank you and support you!!!

Teacher Testimony:

“Common Core.” I first heard those words uttered only a few years back. I still remember going to a fellow classroom teacher’s room during my planning period to watch a state education webinar that gave some very “basic” information about it. After viewing it, we all had mixed emotions. We weren’t sure exactly what it meant. It didn’t sound too terribly bad. From what we were told, it was a curriculum that got rid of unnecessary grade level expectations that we were already struggling to fit into our jam packed curriculum back then. It would supposedly focus on the basics and concentrate on them longer until they were mastered by the students. Another proposed positive of the coming national curriculum was that it would ease the transition of students that moved from one school to another or moved from one state to another. As you can see, none of this sounded like anything scary. As a matter of fact, it sounding like a positive change was coming. And one thing was told to us in certainty, “This IS coming.”

Fast forward to this year (2013-14), and I can tell you that I am a very frustrated teacher that is now being forced to teach this nationalized curriculum that is everything that I never expected it would be. Proponents of this say that teachers have more autonomy than ever in the classroom. This just isn’t so. In fact, it is the complete opposite. You see, as the curriculum was falsely advertised to us in the beginning, it was also blindly accepted by our governor and state department of education. They accepted money from “Race to the Top” initiative and adopted the standards before they were even written. The standards have been written now, but as we delve deeper into what these standards truly are, they are not standards that are a part of a positive education movement but a political movement fueled by agendas and money. We have been coerced into teaching THEIR curriculum and THEIR ways after accepting THEIR money.

As a quick example of how we no longer have autonomy, all I have to do is mention several things that have been forced into my classroom this year. In a scramble at the district level to align to the new Common Core curriculum, our district selected and spent a ton of money on a Common Core aligned textbook series for Language Arts. We were told that we “must” use the series since so much money was spent. Additionally, the school board has formed teams that perform “walk throughs” that go into the schools and classrooms to monitor and make certain there is evidence that Common Core is being taught, along with certain strategies for teaching these new standards. The visit from this team ultimately results in each principal’s evaluation. Do some quick research, and these “walk throughs” and observation processes come from training by companies, such as “Teachscape,” to our districts which are funded by the Bill and Melynda Gates Foundation. They want to make sure their funded initiative is being followed through within the schools and its classrooms.

Today, there was a show that aired on TV, “Frances and Friends,” where a panel of experts was chosen to discuss and expose what Common Core really is. This panel had recently spoken at an “anti” Common Core forum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They uncovered how this curriculum’s agenda aims to eradicate literature, rewrite history, and take away logic and geometric proof. They talked about how this curriculum does not truly promote rigor or critical thinking. As the panelist Jane Robbins stated, “This is not an education model, this is a workforce development model. We have an alliance of government and big businesses, and then we have the private foundations who are benefitting from all of this (Bill Gates, Jeb Bush, etc.). We are going towards a two tiered society, which is the ruling class (the elite and ultra rich) and the workforce (poverty level class).” As I watched, I found myself nodding in agreement, becoming enraged, and wanting to do something about all this. To quote another of the panelists, Emmett McGroarty warned, “Every check and balance in the American system has failed with respect to this issue. We are down to the last check and balance, which is the American people. That’s the issue on the table. Will the people reach out, pick up their telephone, call their state representative, call their state senator, and call their governor and demand to get us out? Get us out [of Common Core] now!” We have a narrow window to act. Are we okay with this educational mush and political propaganda taking over our education system? What will we as teachers, parents, and the American people do? That is the question. We must stop these personal agendas that will take over our culture and our children’s minds before it is too late!

Crazy Crawfish Says. . .

The next time you see a poll or survey of teachers that were in favor of Common Core, remember that what is promised and what people say yes to is not always what is delivered. The Promise of Common Core did not live up to the reality. Sometimes in life salesmen will sell you the lemon, trying to make a fast buck. As responsible consumer, it’s your job to return it when they do, to tell others about your bad experience, and to shop somewhere else next time. The free market does not work when government simply tells you to make lemonade out of your lemons, and like it. Do your job, folks. Here’s the testimony of someone doing their job. There is no dishonor in making a mistake, but there is in just accepting the damage without trying to mitigate it after you become aware, and allowing others to be harmed by your decision and your silence.

Quick update to crawfish events

I will not be on theChalkface radio today at 5 -6.  I came down with pneumonia after the Common Core conference and speaking is not one of the things in am doing well at the moment. (Coughing and wheezing is even less pleasant to listen to over the radio than in person, I assure you.)

I will be at the NPE Event in Austin next week (1st of March) but will only be on a panel on the first on student #BRCCforum in the early morning.   (Assuming I’m cured of course)

This means more time to compare notes and organize next weekend and to perhaps blog and live-tweet other panels and speakers.  (Let me know if you want to meet to discuss a particular topic or strategize at a particular time. )

Common Core Information Forum February 20th, 6PM

Common Core Information Forum February 20th, 6PM

Epic Common Core Forum tomorrow night! It’s not too late to get your ticket online and reserve your seat.

Crazy Crawfish

Please consider attending this event if you are curious about the reasons many folks are opposed to the Common Core State Standards initiative. Common Core is not just something that impacts public schools; most private schools have already adopted Common Core, have plans to, or will be forced to in the coming years. Many of the claims made by Common Core supporters will be addressed by this Forum. If you are on the fence or unaware of What Common core is, this event is for you. For a few hours of your time and for about the price of a movie ticket you can inform yourself about how Common Core was conceptualized, who are the true creators and supporters of this, and the lack of educator input and endorsement of these “standards”. You will also learn about the expensive, intrusive and testing and data collections tied to PARCC and Pearson…

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Defies Measurement Update

Defies Measurement Update

About a month ago I was lucky to receive a visit from the blog’s favorite videographer, Shannon Puckett.

Here’s one of my last posts about her documentary project:

In addition to the interview she did with me about my time at LDOE I got to chat with her about other cool issues while she was getting her tire replaced. She managed to make it to the Albertson’s on Airline Hwy Hammond before her tire gave out from a log she hit on I 10. She was lucky to make it that far with an inch long tear in the sidewall (personally I think she has magic powers or a guardian angel.) That was only a few miles from my house so I dropped by the check on her and then I escorted her the rest of the way to my house.

Update from Kickstarter project
Hi all –

I am very excited to report that I’m wrapping up filming and will head into post-production soon. I have interviewed some amazing individuals across the country and can hardly wait to begin piecing the footage together.

The interviews exceeded expectations. Everyone was magnificent: passionate, eloquent, thoughtful and concise. I am grateful.

Interviewing and reconnecting with former colleagues and students from Chipman has filled my heart. When I feel overwhelmed by all of the issues I’d like to include in the film and when I feel an urgency to speed up production, I think of Chipman and it centers me. I am thankful.

I still plan on having a Final Cut completed by Fall of 2014. I will keep you posted.

Continued thanks to all of you. You’ve been with me throughout it all. You were there when I shared a pot of tea and talked for an hour and a half after interviewing a fierce child advocate in Pennsylvania. You were there when I listened to a mother and parent activist speak so thoughtfully and passionately about how the reform efforts in New Orleans schools have been failing their children. You were even with me when I got a flat tire in Baton Rouge after running over a log on hwy 10. It has been an adventure.

As always, thanks so much for your support.


ps – Another way to keep updated is by visiting and “liking” the Defies Measurement Facebook page.

Also, if you’re interested in learning more about the issues that will be addressed in the film, check out

I’ve never been interviewed for a documentary before, but I had a good time, and Shannon’s questions had me thinking more about what it is I’m doing and what I’m hoping to accomplish.  (I’m not sure I was in a position to do much before, but now…?) Her questions made me recall the good times I had at LDOE, and all the good people I worked with at the department and in the LEAs (School Districts) before the education reformers came her to discard us all like so much used toilet paper. Now that I am out, looking in, I see a lot of opportunities we missed, a lot more collaboration we could have done, and lack of focus and public engagement. I think it’s true many of us accepted a certain level of corruption, squabbling, and failure of and within out public school system and the various stakeholders that made us vulnerable to the faux school reform being offered by John White and his ilk. From talking to parents, kids, educators and superintendents I can see that what is going on is very disruptive, very harmful in many cases and aimed to destroy public education and drive out experienced educators. But what we had in the past had its share of problems as well.

Reform is designed to make education profitable, but it is not meant to actually improve the lots of the majority of our children, to improve our schools or to make education less expensive for tax payers. I think LDOE could have taken a more active roll working directly with our school districts and communities to improve our education systems. By not doing more, we allowed Reformers the room to write a narrative where the status quo was to blame for the lack of success in our school systems. In their narrative, by sweeping us out, great gains could be make and children would prosper. We became the enemy, the uncaring adults standing in the way of poor children getting a proper education, caring to much about our pensions and job titles and too little about those in our charge. However once we were gone, no one was left to watch the candy store, and success could be written however Reformers pleased, and they have. Having used our data and the media against us, Reformers learned all too well the value and danger of data and clamped down on the free flow of information that was our downfall.

You see, what we reported was not pretty, it was real. The roll poverty plays in impacting children’s education levels and opportunities is also very real. We knew this before we knew reform and reformers. We talked about it as an indisputable given, and it is. Just as it was true then, it is true now. Even knowing this we did too little to address this issue because it was not polite, it was not politically savvy, it was not pretty considering how very poor our state is, and the solution was not going to be cheap. By not addressing this problem ourselves, by not facing this harsh reality and actually trying to do something significant about it, we made ourselves and our state vulnerable to the snake oil salesmen of reform with their soothing lies that poverty is just an excuse made by lazy people or people that have low expectations. This is an appealing story in a country founded by hard working immigrants, tenacious inventors and shrewd entrepreneurs. Unfortunately it’s just that, a story, a fairytale, a ruse. Poverty does matter. And this is where data, and understanding data comes in.

Poverty is not an absolute, and our measure for this is crude and flawed.


Today we have laser guided missiles that can pinpoint targets accurately within inches from many miles away, from planes traveling at supersonic speeds. This allows us to discriminate among friendly targets and use more precise ordinance to accomplish a goal of eliminating an enemy combatant. Thousands of engineers and scientists running millions of simulations and expending millions or rounds went into that precise calculation. Many calculations are factored into how that missile flies and how accurate it can be, from wind speed, to precipitation and visibility.

The way we determine poverty is, for the most part, is just free and reduced lunch eligibility based on whether they applied and qualified for food stamps at some point in the last year. We don’t know how long children have qualified; we don’t know which kids were “poor” last year and no longer “poor” by this single metric. We don’t know which kids are “poor” but their parents refuse to allow school districts to label their kids this way, refuse the free lunches. Many parents do. This metric is very sloppy. We do not have relative poverty, there are no levels. Every student is classified as either “rich” or “poor”, and that difference may be only a few dollars a year in income or whether your parents applied for free lunches. Many high school students prefer to refuse lunch than be classified as free lunch, but doing so makes them “rich” to data folks even if they have no place to sleep on a regular basis and no regular meals, no stable parental influence at home. Reformers understand this, but most of you don’t.

Within this very flawed metric is where reformers, like Leslie Jacobs, work their magic. They tout high performing, high poverty schools.

New Orleans Gains Continue!

I am amazed and awed by the continued academic improvement of our schools and students. In 8 years:

We have more high performing, high poverty schools than anywhere else in Louisiana.

This is a grand achievement! (Even though they simultaneously refuse to recognize poverty is a factor in performance.)

School Performance Scores would factor in poverty if they really believed it was a factor. As things stand now, wealthier districts have very little chance of being taken over by the state while virtually every poor district in the state will be taken over as things are progressing now.

What is actually happening in New Orleans, where 90-95% of the children in the public school system are classified as “poor” by Louisiana’s definition, is that an additional “sorting” is taking place. Charter schools like KIPP are placing additional burdens on families to weed out those families with fewer hours to dedicate to service (because they are working two jobs to get by or because the kids are being raised by their grandparents, or a single parent who can’t afford child care.) Charter schools are weeding out children with discipline problems (student’s with numerous discipline problems usually have less stable lives and are often even poorer, than the one size fits all definition of “poor” kids the state recognizes.)

Data can be a valuable tool, for good and for ill. Sometimes it’s what we don’t measure, or can’t measure, that really matters.

Reformers have learned what metrics work best for their narrative and they have shrewdly learned not to measure or explain things that they can exploit because the measure is so crude. Just as we knew poverty was an issue that needed to be addressed, reformers know they are not really addressing the issue of educating poor kids. They are allowing charter schools to strategically filter out the poorest children to traditional schools, so they can claim success. To people just looking at the data they provide, those children are all the same, rich and poor. However reformers know and charter schools know there are poor kids, and then there are the poorest kids which they can shuttle off to traditional public schools. These organizations have invested heavily in R&D, and they have their own laser targeting systems they use behind the scenes to cherry pick the students they want and to eliminate the students they don’t want.



John White’s Latest Course Choice Push Equals Large-scale, Free High School Labor

John White’s Latest Course Choice Push Equals Large-scale, Free High School Labor

White is literally all over the chart with his latest industry and career path rollout. Now he appears to be pushing for public education only emphasizing vocational education over 4 year college pathways. College degrees will be too plentiful relative to the jobs we have to offer in Louisiana, so best to prepare for the Third World economy Jindal and White have created and expanded for us by continuing to provide the cheap, plentiful labor that will keep is a prime location for low end manufacturing and chicken plucking jobs that have secured our spot as the poorest and least educated state(next to Mississippi) in the nation. Education Reform is finally coming into its own. Not only will they make our education system worse than when they found it for most children, they will have successfully siphoned off all the resources we allocated for our children for the very industry and hedge fund managers that will also seek to exploit our cheap, paid slightly better than slaves (in that they are paid a fraction of expenses they need to live), labor.

deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and his hand-selected, anti-public-school sidekick, State Education Superintendent John White, really want their so-termed “online education” dollar siphon, Course Choice, to be the major death drain that it was intended to be to Louisiana public education.

In May 2013, the Louisiana Supreme Court declared use of Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) funding– intended for Louisiana public schools– unconstitutional for either vouchers or Course Choice.

So, White had to go and “find” some money to make these two programs work.  According to this January 2014 Advocate article, Course Choice had been “largely” financed using money from a 1986 federal oil and gas settlement.

However, former Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) employee and education blogger Jason France questions the sloppy, rushed implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)– including White and LDOE’s reneging on a promised curriculum–  as a means of freeing up cash in order…

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The Louisiana Department of Education rushed and ruined the implementation of Common Core, on purpose and for quick cash

I’ve been researching this story for close to 4 months now talking to local superintendents, teachers, parents, teacher leaders, and both pro and con Common Core folks. I’ve been following tips and reviewing internal documents that were sent out to school districts as well as listening to accounts of what local educational leaders were told in person.

What I was surprised to discover is that LDOE, despite their protestations to the contrary and despite a lot of supporting evidence, is not entirely incompetent. This is the line of reasoning John White wants you to believe, that the Common Core rollout was just handled poorly, and now he is using a 10 year phased in approach. (This makes everything alright, right?) This gradual, phased-in approach was recommended hundreds of times to John White from teachers unions, BESE members and education leaders across the state and discarded out of hand.

White would like you to “believe” it was simply a lack of experience on his part and an overactive hubris that led to this cataclysmic implementation fail. A fail that has spawned dozens of parents groups across the state clamoring to their legislators to “kill Common Core.” The implementation was so bad, Governor Bobby Jindal had to distance himself from the issue by vaguely stating he is opposed to a “national curriculum,” without actually answering publicly whether is in favor of Common Core which is handpicked State Superintendent of Education and handpicked and financially sponsored BESE board committed Louisiana to sight unseen. There is no question that Bobby Jindal supports Common Core, and a national curriculum these standards impose, he’s just being cagey for the cameras and to keep his presidential chances alive no matter how this issue is finally resolved. True Leadership in Crisis Monday morning quarterback leading from Bobby Jindal, as usual.

I do wonder if Jindal would be as supportive of his Superintendent putting him in this position on purpose? The truth is, John White intended for the CCSS rollout to be a failure, for some school districts; probably for most districts. He and his network leaders and TFA cadre and regional network leaders intentionally disseminated incorrect information to mislead school districts. This was occurring at the same time White quietly slipped documentation into LDOE newsletters and ESEA waiver requests, he was well aware no one read, to try and discredit critics after this planned failure. White intended for some districts like Lincoln and Jefferson to implement Common Core well (as well as such a substandard set of standards could be implemented) while using the poor implementations in other districts as leverage to make charters, Course Choice, virtual schools, and the state’s voucher programs more palatable to the public.  There is also the question of where did all the money for Common Core implementing actually go?  At least 25 million was given to the state by Gates and US DOE in the form of Race to the Top grant.  I can think of 25 million reasons to find reasons to skimp on the Common Core implementation.

Common Core has some educational material. Some individual components, taken by themselves in a vacuum might even be better than some of our current standards. That does not explain why we just didn’t remedy our existing standards. The folks who gave us the previous standards have been in charge for more than decade. If our existing standards were so poor, they were poor because the people we put in charge made them so, or allowed them to be that way. These same folks are now telling us Common Core is better, but are they in any position to judge?

Proponents of CCSS like to pull out individual pieces and ask critics questions like:

“So you don’t believe kids should be able to multiply in third grade?”


“So you don’t believe kids should understand motivations of the narrator?”

They don’t like anyone to view these standards as a whole or to actually look at the credentials (or lack thereof) of the creators of Common Core. Common Core is not about raising standards or helping children, or improving college and career readiness. Many proponents of Common Core have the same mission as Superintendent White, to destroy the teaching profession and replace public schools with private and unaccountable charters, voucher and virtual school alternatives.

Common Core is about control. The purpose of Common Core is to wrest control of local curriculum and local schools from communities and to eliminate experienced teachers. Those who support Common Core, and most specifically a hyper-fast track for it, did so not because the wanted children and teachers to succeed, but because they knew they would fail. From this failure charter schools could reap more opportunities for expansion. Voucher schools, which to date have performed abysmally even compared to our already abysmal education outcomes would be seen as a more favorable option. As schools are forced to narrow their curriculum to simply focus on improving Math and English scores, private Course Choice providers are lining up to fill in the void. Their contribution is substandard but highly profitable and easy to churn out material. Inexperienced teachers who drill and kill students to prepare them for the new material and high stakes testing will “seem” to be as good or better than experienced teachers who build a strong foundation for learning throughout a lifetime. Drill and kill teachers are easier to train and recruit, cost a lot less to hire, and can be easily replaced. This keeps expenses down in charter schools, which are often run for profit. Charter schools are good for politicians because many wealthy sponsors donate to candidates who favor them, and because charter schools can donate to political candidates themselves.

As I covered in a previous articles, John White and BESE approved Common Core before it was even finalized. It was approved in our state before the final draft was even released! They did this without any input from a majority of parents and stakeholders. One of the reasons most parents and stakeholders did not weigh-in was because there was not much in the way of user-friendly documentation on it, and it wasn’t even finalized. Many parents, myself included, expected these standards were properly reviewed by the folks employed by LDOE with grand 6 figure salaries, and by the elected educators running BESE, our state school board. It was not known that some of the members like Holly Boffy, are paid to promote Common Core by the folks that sponsored it, namely the CCSSO.

What follows is a timeline and additional proof that shows how John White created two paths for implementation of Common Core simultaneously. My comments/discussion is displayed in [green brackets].

Original Timeline provided by White and LDOE (released in 2011)


Development Year – 2011-2012

Transition year #1 – 2012-2013

Transition year #2 – 2013-2014

Full Implementation of – 2014-2015


Development Year – 2011-2012

Transition year #1 – 2012-2013

Transition year #2 – 2013-2014

Full Implementation of – 2014-2015


BESE Meeting ESEA Reauthorization:

White relayed: 2013-2014 considered transition year for PARCC and CCSS

5/2011 – 9 /2011

Webinars confirmed schedule, promised crosswalk, phased in approach and grade level content comparison documents. [The crosswalk by Weststat cost 1.6 million dollars but was never released to any district superintends I spoke to.]

5/2011 – 2/2012

LDOE confirmed timeline in communiqués and messaging


ESEA flexibility request featured these promises:

  • A new state-developed curriculum aligned with CCSS, meaning that no districts will have to undertake this work themselves.(ESEA Waiver – 2/28/12 – pg. 94-95)
  • “Crosswalks and content comparison documents clearly outlining the changes from current grade-level expectations to CCSS” to be utilized in the 2012-2013 and the 2013-2014 [emphasis added]
    school years.” (ESEA Waiver – 2/28/12 – pg. 94-95)


BESE – Official Board Minutes – message from Superintendent White

  • “. . . Implementation of CCSS in grades K and 1 begins . . .” ” (BESE Official Board minutes 3/9/12 – pg. 2)
  • Transitional curriculum for most grades over the next two years for smoother transition to CCSS. (BESE Official Board minutes 3/9/12 – pg. 2)
  • “. . . the LDE submitted an application for flexibility waivers from federal NCLB regulations . . .” (BESE Official Board minutes 3/9/12 – pg. 2)


“The timeline outlined in the flexibility request and addendum shows a transition period for grades 3-12 that raises concerns about full implementation within the timeline . . .” ” (ESEA Flexibility Peer Panel Notes – 3/29/12 – pg. 1) [US DOE doubts LDOE can implement in time with proposed timeline, LDOE does nothing to address concerns.]


Letter [from USDOE] Regarding Peer Review Feedback:

“A timeline for implementing college- career-ready standards that does not meet the requirement for full implementation of the standards by the 2013-2014 school Year”


LDOE Bi-Weekly Newsletter:
Within the Superintendent’s Message, John White states:

“Moreover, once we fully transition from the current Louisiana GLE’s to the Common Core State Standards – to be complete in 2014-2015 – the state will no longer produce a Louisiana-specific comprehensive curriculum.” [This statement actually implies the transition to take place in 2014-2015, actually adding a year to timeline.]


Approved ESEA Flexibility Request –


“The plan utilizes a phased in approach to ensure maximum preparation and continuity as educators also begin to undergo more rigorous evaluations.”


. . . One year of preparation while current GLEs are in place.


. . .implementation of transitional curriculum and assessments, which use both the current GLEs and the CCSS.


. . .with the professional development and curriculum resources provided, districts should be able to fully implement the CCSS as early as possible. [US DOE approved the “plan” without LDOE telling districts at the end of the 2013-2014 school year. If this was LDOE’s intent why was this not communicated to all stakeholders instead of implying the transition might actually take place over an extra year? The Feds have approved LDOEs change to eliminate 2013-2014 as at transition year changing it to a full implementation year. This is quietly approved at the end of the 12-13 school year after most teachers and administrators are about to be sent home for the summer. However not all districts are caught flat-footed, some favored districts like Jefferson and Lincoln had advance warning this would take place. Their preparedness is used against other districts as proof LEAs were informed and had plenty of time to implement CCSS. The story promulgated by LDOE and their allies like Stand for Children is that school districts were simply dragging their feet, hoping CCSS would disappear if they kept their heads in the sand long enough. I even thought this might be the case to some extent, but contrary to that narrative and belief, most LEAs were simply actively misled – by design.]


BESE Meeting – ESEA Notice of Intent:

“On a motion of Ms. Bradford, seconded by Mr. Garvey, the Board approved, as a Notice of Intent, revisions to the following Sections of Bulletin 111, The Louisiana School, District, and State Accountability System, as a result of the ESEA Flexibility Request that was approved for implementation by the United States Department of Education, as amended and presented by the LDE: 68 policy changes to Bulletin 111 were made in one motion . . . [This is what we call thoughtful debate and transparency in Louisiana. Any questions? And I bet you thought Obamacare was the fastest, largest and most complex rollout to avoid dissent. Welcome to Louisiana!]

8/7 and 8/21/2012

LDOE Weekly Newsletters: [some other gems LDOE released but then subsequently downplayed in person as you will see shortly.]

A document containing a fundamental shift in the way we plan and teach our children is buried within a LDOE Weekly Newsletter Hyperlink about a memorandum. [How many hyperlinks have you clicked on in this document so far?]

“. . . Louisiana is replacing the academic mandates of the comprehensive curriculum and textbook adoption process with academic tools such as rubrics, assessments and video modules. . .”(Academic Strategy Memorandum – 8/7&21/12 – page 1) [Par for the course; John White eliminated direct communications with districts as his first move when he came to LDOE to destroy communication between LDOE and school districts.]

“Required comprehensive curriculum is replaced with optional transitional comprehensive curriculum” that aligns to some elements of the Common Core State Standards. The state also publishes assessment items aligned to Common Core in Eagle. Teachers and principals work together to determine how best to incorporate these into their work with students.”

Comprehensive curriculum is eliminated altogether and school districts have the freedom to choose any content or text. To support decision-making at the district level, the state recommends content aligned to Common Core and continues to publish sample assessments and tasks that are aligned to Common Core in EAGLE.”

[Quite an important shift to be delivered by vague hyperlink within massive Newsletter nobody reads. This was by design to show notice had been given, while knowing full well no one reads those newsletters, no one has the time to plumb them extensively or the expectation that such major changes will be released with a newsletter and not sent to superintendents directly and coordinated with emails and reminders to impacted staff as we used to do for such initiatives prior to John White’s installation as head of LDOE.]

[My favorite ironic line from this memo]

“Louisiana Believes our state’s comprehensive plan for continued improvement starts with a simple idea: if you believe that all students can achieve a career or a college degree – and thus master the Common Core standards – you must believe in the adults who know and care for them. A true plan for change is not based on the dictates of governmental agencies; it is based on the idea that, given high standards, the people closest to students should have the power to choose what is right for the child.” [The response to this could be an entire post. Parents are the closest to the children, not John White and the corporations that produced these standards. We do not trust or believe John White, he is an inveterate liar. Common Core is pushed by LDOE and US DOE, hence the entire need for a ESEA waiver request from US DOE to include Common Core. Despite propaganda to the contrary, Louisiana has had some of the highest standards in the nation for over a decade, and we have remained mired in 47th through 49th place out of 50 in academic achievement. High Standards are important, but all alone do not promote achievement one iota. In our case because we provided no support or funding to districts. This is despite LDOE receiving million in grants from Bill Gates and US DOE hat they spent on 6 figure staff and unused vendor products. No help was forthcoming for most districts despite the promises they made in the ESEA waiver to US DOE. The way Louisiana “implemented” CCSS actually harmed student achievement by draining resources and attention from helping all students master the basics and build on a foundation for a lifetime of learning. ]


Superintendent Advisory Council – SAC


[. . . .because districts White wanted to know about this were informed directly. Wouldn’t you think a monumental shift to the entire curriculum, something that hadn’t been attempted on this scale in decades or perhaps ever , for all students and to all standardized tests would be worthy of a even a brief mention?]


Conference call with State Superintendents


[. . . .because districts White wanted to know about this were informed directly. Wouldn’t you think a monumental shift to the entire curriculum, something that hadn’t been attempted on this scale in decades or perhaps ever , for all students and to all standardized tests would be worthy of a even a brief mention?]


How easy is it to find out independently that there is no transitional curriculum?

[Just two easy clicks to an obscure line in an enormous document with a vague phrase filled with lines crossed through old passages. That’s how White’s LDOE keeps folks in the know.]


State Superintendent Conference Call/webinar

Superintendent White:

White: “We are keeping with that transition schedule for next year, and at the same time I think it is fair to say that, frankly that the guidance that the teachers have been given, from a curriculum perspective, and from a assessment perspective, has not always kept faithful to that transition plan.” [This is clearly and without question, intentionally misleading. LDOE filed for and received approval for elimination of transition from the Feds in May of the previous year and has produced numerous documents from White that are hard for most LEAs to find but indicate the opposite. White’s actual word, the head honcho, declares the opposite! To be this incompetent is unrealistic, even for him, for anyone really. This shows intentional doublespeak on his part. This shows he was misleading districts on purpose to ensure Common Core is implemented poorly in most districts.]

White: “The goal of the transition plan was that to . . . was that next year we would be teaching standards that are only representative of the Common Core that was planned and published in 2011, and that is the plan going forward.”

[In other words, teaching only the Common Core material that was indicated in the 2011 timeline, which shows 2013-2014 as a transition year. Please refer to this timeline shown above.]

White: “What I am suggesting is that feedback from the teachers is that the further that we get into a transitional phase, the more important it is that we be very clear on aligning the assessment guide with the curriculum guidance . . .”

[At this point White knows there is no transitional phase for the following year, but he is trying very hard not to give that info away to the superintendents on the general call. I have no doubt he made private calls to some districts and charter schools to inform them of the real plan.]


LDOE Weekly Newsletter

White: “As we continue our transition to the Common Core State Standards, the LDOE will be providing resources to support teachers as they begin planning for the 2013-2014 school year.”

[Still maintaining the ruse that there will be a transition next year (2013-1014; which was in fact a full implementation as many unhappy parents and teachers will tell you.) This is one of the final months of the single year he allocated for Transition. If the State Superintendent didn’t understand that, how could he have expected any districts to know? But some did. Those districts were told in no uncertain terms what the true deadlines were. Everyone else was intentionally misled time after time, conferences after conference, meeting after meeting, newsletter after newsletter.]


Superintendent Collaboration – Network 3

In discussions concerning CCSS content the following exchange occurred:

Jerome Puyau (Superintendent of Vermilion Parish Schools): “Will there be a transitional curriculum next year?”

Michael Rounds (Deputy State Superintendent): “There is not a transitional curriculum.”

Jerome Puyau: “So what does that mean?”

Michael Rounds: “It primarily, um, means that we are going to provide for you, we will show you, a tool box that is, that the curriculum is going to be Common Core aligned, and what is tested will also be aligned to the Common Core . . . that doesn’t mean we will implement all of Common Core next year because we are not prepared to do that, and the state nor the country is prepared to do that.”

[Even under direct questioning by local superintendents to their network leaders, the message being delivered to some districts like Vermillion was that Common Core would not be implemented next year because no one in the nation was prepared to do that! That was perhaps the only true statement I’ve seen from LDOE. Louisiana was not prepared – intentionally. New York was not prepared. North Carolina was not prepared, butLDOE attempted to rush the implementation anyway, knowing full well this would be a foolhardy endeavor and that many folks would not be prepared. This was an intentionally screwed up rollout designed to blame and destroy some districts while promoting friendly, allied ones.]

This is part of pattern of keeping districts in the dark that John White initiated as his first act as Superintendent. His first agency-wide memo to LDOE staff was to forbid us from communicating directly with all LEAs. His first communication was not an introduction, not a “good to be here” note, not a “bear with us while we organize” missive. His first communiqué was that any employee found violating that edict would be fired. Instead of working to improve communication (despite the many highly paid communication folks he hired with salaries that exceeded hundreds of thousands of dollars on an annual basis) White created a bi-weekly memo that is filled with too much information. This memo contains everything going on in the state and is too large for people to read or explore adequately.

Prior to White we communicated directly with program personnel in the school districts from our own personnel. After White a single letter combining info they wanted to discuss was sent out by communications only to the superintendent. It was the superintendent’s responsibility to read and disseminate the memo to their entire school district. If superintendents chose to send it to everyone, then their entire districts would have to read the entire memo to find out if anything impacted them (several times a week.) To avoid this enormous waste of time, superintendents would have to read the entire memo themselves, and send it to each person directly with a note about what to pay attention to.

This intentional muddying of the waters added a lot of time and busywork to LDOE staff, and a lot of time to superintendent’s workloads, without improving communication, it actually all but destroyed it. Just as John White destroyed the department website to remove links and contact info of people in charge of programs and to remove historical data, he destroyed internal communication as well. White did this so he could deceive superintendents directly with webinars and conference calls while vague nearly inaccessible memos could be produced to show just how informed everyone should be.

It’s not even possible for district personnel to find LDOE folks in charge of program areas for questions anymore. The LDOE Contact list has not updated since John White arrived in 2012 although most of the information is completely incorrect. Most of the employees listed no longer work there or work in different areas. As far as I can tell the only change they made was to remove me (after I wrote an earlier post making fun of them for still listing me as an employee years later.)

John White also paid for a 1.6 million dollar state GLE (Grade Level Expectations) to CCSS (Common Core State Standards) crosswalk from Weststat for the transition years of 2012-2013 and 2013-2014.


This crosswalk was not distributed to any superintendent I spoke with. I doubt it could have been of much use since the phase in defined was over two years. That amount of money from the LDOE budget could have been used to give pay raises for a decade (which is has claimed he wished he could do but could not for lack of funds) or keep most of the staff he laid off employed including some he terminated months or years away from retirement. That amount of money could have paid for most of his Course Choice program for a year. Instead this is just one of many contracts White spent on vendors he had no intention of using. Despite the fact that the 2012 ESEA waiver request indicated this crosswalk would be used and available to districts:

“Crosswalks and content comparison documents clearly outlining the changes from current grade-level expectations to CCSS” to be utilized in the 2012-2013 and the 2013-2014 [emphasis added]
school years.” (ESEA Waiver – 2/28/12 – pg. 94-95)

White had his network staff trained as trainers to help districts learn and understand the Common Core standards. He was sending these folks out to specific districts with multiple sets of lesson plans with the intent of using a train the trainer model. The Math curriculum was reported and well known within LDOE to be a serious problem for many districts. Without explanation, White ceased sending out his trainers to LEAs in the 2012-2013 school year. This was despite the fact that his trainers we reporting back that there was a lot of confusion in the districts, and that their trainings were sorely needed. Nevertheless, these staffers were told to cease helping school districts, some even were recalled before giving all of their training sessions they had been scheduled to give LEAs they were already working with. This was despite the fact White had promised to help districts in his 2012 ESEA waiver request so no districts would have to undertake this task by themselves.

A new state-developed curriculum aligned with CCSS, meaning that no districts will have to undertake this work themselves.(ESEA Waiver – 2/28/12 – pg. 94-95)

This promise gave way to the LEA empowerment argument that John White, Chas Roemer and Holly Boffy started proselytizing. Instead of the state helping districts develop their curriculum, LEAs and teachers were now “empowered” to create their own without, state interference. This would probably have been nice to hear before LDOE promised to help school districts.

This was not an argument or promise that was made in any of the ESEA waiver requests sent to LDOE, but something White and his allies manufactured after seeing how poorly the CCSS was unfolding, even worse that they had planned.

One nice benefit of bailing on the Common Core implementation is that this did allow LDOE to spend the many millions of dollars it received from Gates and US DOE to skimp on helping school districts and divert that cash to funding voucher schools and Course Choice. This was done from LDOE’s budget that White “found”. This money was not spent on the implementation. This was 10s of millions of dollars. I do not see how the state spent millions helping school districts prepare for CCSS. As far as I’ve seen all they’ve produced is a pathetic “toolbox“with a few videos? Are you going to tell me Louisiana spent 25 million in Gates grants and Race to the top funds creating a few YouTube videos I could do in a week from my spare bedroom with a webcam?

Louisiana Department of Education (Gates Grant)

Date: June 2011

Purpose: to provide organizational support to the Louisiana Department of Education related to implementation of the Common Core State Standards & teacher development and evaluation systems
Amount: $7,351,708

This comes from the 25 million dollar toolbox CCCS implementation.  I must say I’m impressed.  What a plan!

Just master those CCSS standards that have never been used anywhere before, ever, are children are magically college ready. 25 Million dollars please!

The Race to the Top grant Louisiana received was 17.3 million dollars to implement their plan for CCSS, as well as everything they were already doing that didn’t cost any money, like promoting charter schools.

“Louisiana’s Phase Three application, the Louisiana Education Reform Plan, addresses standards and assessments, the collection and use of data, school turnaround strategies, and effective support for teachers and school leaders. The four-year plan also outlines strategies to enhance the state’s current STEM program. Reform activities already underway and detailed in the state’s R2T application include the implementation of Act 54 and the state’s adoption and transition to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and CCSS-Aligned Assessments.”

Do you think LDOE spent 25 million dollars implementing CCSS, or do you think it’s more likely all that money went to vouchers, fat-cat 6 figure LDOE salaries, voucher “scholarships” and Course Choice programs while our children were sacrificed to the intentional mess that was our 2013-2014 CCSS implementation?

LEAs did not get money from the State to implement Common Core; they did not get training from the state in most cases either.

Just where did all that relatively fungible money go I wonder?

Not really, I think we all know where John White found his pot-o-gold to save Jindal’s pet programs. . . And all it cost was a year of our children’s education.

(My profound thanks to all those who contributed to this article.)


Adobe of PowerPoint with documents behind dates for timeline: ESEA Presentation to VPSB Final.5

Teacher Toolbox worth at least 12.5 million: ? (Note: 12.5 mil not true figure, I think they bummed off a food truck street vendor for free and made off with the cash.)

District toolbox worth another 12.5 million dollars: ? (or perhaps two food trucks were involved?)

Former New Orleans KIPP teacher and TFA Corps member speaks out on EduShyster

I’m not really sure why EduShyster is down here interviewing our folks, but since she did a pretty good job getting this story out of one of our people I will give her a pass. . . for now.

This is the full link:

Not only is this a story about a teacher from one of the more “accomplished” (test-score-wise) charter chains, but Rebecca Radding is a former Teach for America corps member, and one of a growing class of former TFA teachers disillusioned by the false promises and failed policies of education school reform.

Rebecca’s story is one of mindless drilling and near fanatical emphasis on test scores. Students at her KIPP school were not encouraged to interact with each other, but to maintain an ever-present unquestioning silence so they could mindlessly be filled up with stagnant facts, like empty vases waiting to be filled with acid rain from above.

“KIPP defines a successful teacher as someone who keeps children quiet, teaches children how to answer each question on a test composed of arbitrary questions, and then produces high scores on this test. Mind you, I was teaching Pre-K and then kindergarten at a KIPP school in New Orleans—and these were still the metrics by which I was being evaluated”

This is the charter template sweeping the nation. Test preparation for English and Math scores, which we can measure, and little else.

Rebecca also opines on the value, or lack thereof, of formal assessments that LDOE and many reformers who have never taught a day in their lives, preach so incessantly over as critical to understanding their students. By far the greatest value for formal assessments is to vendors bottom lines.

“Formal assessments don’t give me any new information, and they only serve to make kids who’ve already been disenfranchised by the schooling process feel even more frustrated.”

Like severely cognitively impaired special education students forced to take the ACT exam just so schools can get an SPS score and ACT can get a fatter check in the mail?

I also appreciated how Rebecca tailors her new curriculum to the interests of her students and encourages reading by providing materials that will actually interest her class.

I will leave you with this radical idea from Rebecca.

“Somewhere along the line I developed this radical idea that children are humans who should be treated with dignity, and that the classroom should, ideally, be a place they’d want to be even if schooling weren’t compulsory.”

Isn’t it sad that a radical idea involves seeing children as human beings, not products to be detailed or discarded as defective as is the current vogue corporately defined and driven educational absurdity?

Take some time to read her story while I continue to work on more of my own.