How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

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Have you ever come across a saying that seemed new to you, but then once it developed personal meaning it felt like you would never stop hearing it repeated?

I’ve been hearing this elephant joke a lot these days, but it’s never felt more appropriate to me personally than right now.  My personal life is facing a little upheaval to be sure, but so too are the education deform and pro-education movements.  Things seem to be spinning out of control for both sides.  People may be switching sides.  What was bad may be good?  Are enemies becoming friends?  I really can’t figure out if some people are being crafty, sincere or unbelievably stupid.  I’ve given up trying to figure it out but I put little stock in words these days.  Actions by those n the position to take them is what I will base my final judgments on.

But back to my elephant eating analogy.  I’ll be honest.  I can’t always keep up with the demands on my time.  It almost feels like I’ve been paralyzed into inaction, but it’s more than that.  With so much going on, so much happening so quickly, it’s hard to know exactly where to apply pressure, which topic to address, what post I might write that will have unintended consequences and tip the balance the wrong way. . . When I first started writing it didn’t rally matter because no one read what I wrote anyway 🙂 and I had no allies (that I knew of.).  Now things are different and I feel like I should be doing more, but the equations are much more complicated now.  Sometimes doing something, just because something needs to be done, is not the right answer.  It’s precisely that mindset that is the root of much of the horrible policies and decisions being made right now, and its that mindset that I’m so adamant about fighting.

Paul Pastorek, John White’s predecessor as Louisiana Superintendent of Education, told my colleagues during one of his departmental meetings/rallies that public education was facing an imminent crisis of epic proportions and we needed to act.  There was no time to analyze the problem and come up with the best plan or best diagnosis.  Rather than readying our rifle, carefully aiming, and firing,  he told us, what we needed to do as a Department was just shoot! There was no time to ready or aim anymore. Shoot often, and hope for the best.  That seems to be the same way the current superintendent of education, John White, operates too.  The problem with this approach and analogy, obviously,  is that you probably won’t fix the problem, you almost certainly will create enormous collateral damage, and even if you hit your target, how will you know and how will you replicate your success?  This is the scattershot approach of the entire untested reform movement of which Common Core is just a symptom of a larger diseased mindset.  Shoot first, shoot often, take no prisoners and define your targets after you hit them.

shooting-star-target
Reform completed! Somewhere. . .

I have been doing more watching and listening than acting and speaking.  Fresh perspectives often lend themselves to improving clarity.  There are a lot of very determined parents and eloquent speakers leading the charge against the Public education “Reform” privatization movement these days.  II’ve learned a lot from these folks and I’m happy to see a few success now and again. What saddens me, and often takes the wind out of my sails, are the failures that keep building up in the face of our relentless grassroots counterattack.

We have won the information battle.

We have won the public opinion battle.

We have the moral high ground since we are fighting for our children and those opposed to us are fighting for money, power and prestige.

Despite our irrefutable advantages we are still losing on too many fronts – in my opinion. I have well over a dozen articles to write but I am in a place where I wonder. . . Will I ever be able to write enough to address all the problems or reach enough people to make a difference?  Money and power seem to be more important than right and wrong.

Whenever I start writing an article I can’t help but second guessing myself and wondering. Should I be spending my time writing something else? There is just so very much to cover, explain and address.

When given a chance to speak to folks directly, I much prefer that. I tend to drift around from topic to topic, but I cover a lot when speaking and I can respond to specific questions and concerns. This weekend I was asked to speak at an Anti-Common Core Rally down at the State Capitol. I promise not to speak for the entire time, I’ll probably only get 10-15 minutes before the long Sheppard’s hook whisks me off the stage like one of my bygone heroes of old.

209px-Tms406-kermit

In this format I won’t be able to answer a lot of questions (or perhaps any) directly, however if you would like for me to visit your group just drop me a line sometime or give me a call and we can work something out – I’m sure.  My e-mail addresses are crazycrawfish@yahoo.com or jasonfrance@Hotmail.com

Here are the details on the Rally:

Join us on Saturday, June 14th, 2014 from 9am to 12pm at the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, as we rally to keep the control of education with the parents and the local school districts. We’re asking that Governor Bobby Jindal remove Louisiana from Common Core and PARCC, and we are asking for the removal of State Superintendent John White.

June 14th is Flag Day. Bring your flag, bring you kids, bring your family. This is a statewide event open to all those in favor of keeping education Constitutional.

And here is the Facebook event posting for the Rally.

https://www.facebook.com/events/252550658261562/

I was also asked to be a guest on WBOK radio in New Orleans with Raynard Sanders at 10:00 am June 16th.  I will be discussing the latest test score release and the scandal that was revealed about the State Department of Education asking employees to directly alter the test scores for charter schools and the Recovery School District. You can listen to this broadcast online as well ass over the radio if you are in the New Orleans area and you can call in with your questions during the broadcast if you like. . .

http://www.wbok1230am.com/

As for that elephant?  I will start chewing away at him this week.

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I hope if I chew slowly and deliberately enough I can begin to make a real dent in this sucker. . . or at least get his attention.

 

 

 

 

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28 thoughts on “How do you eat an elephant?

  1. If you have a good contact at DOE, check the rumor that John White is toast. I was told that today but am unable to verify.

    Aswell

  2. So who would replace him? I heard Patrick Dobard. Does it really matter since all the deforms are in motion?

  3. Let me give you a few words of encouragement, if I may. There are many of us who woke up pretty late to what is happening with our public education, myself being one of them. You have kindly answered my questions when I have e-mailed them to you. You have informed me. You have challenged me. You speak out. You attend meetings that working moms and dads can’t. You educate anyone who wants to hear. You ARE making a difference, one person at a time. So, thank you!

    1. Thanks Kyara. I know we are making progress. Some days the needs seem to exceed my abilities but that’s only because there are so many needs and so many bad faith actors. I am grateful for all tbe help and encouragement. I would not have believed we would be where we are today if someone described this environment a year ago. I don’t fault our side, I underestimated the entrenched interests and their audacity in the face of overwhelming criticism. I imagined with this much outcry we would be further along with changing things. We will get there but it will take more time…which is unfortunate for kids, parents and teachers. It makes you feel a little helpless sometimes, but all I can do is take another bite of that elephant and hope some more folks like you stop by to take a bite out of reform. 🙂

    2. With regard to oppression and injustice, you (Jason) have raised awareness. No matter what a person’s views, variance in those views a/c individuals and divides, views on particular parts of or views on all of ed reform, oppression and injustices are not okay, imo. From any angle, system, organization, school, individual, etc. where those two things emerge & are tolerated and/or practiced, I have a difficult time understanding how anyone can support or justify them…or do so repeatedly…no one is perfect. #AlwaysDoTheNextRightThing

      Kyara, I am replying to your comment b/c your reply reminded me of a quote I read and will share: “…with cruelty and oppression it is everybody’s business to interfere when they see it.” -Anna Sewell

        1. Agreed. In and of itself, democracy is somewhat of an illusion the more the layers are peeled back. It’s very sad. Show people the difference in what true democracy & diversity look like & how it’s different from what we experience today. It’s worth fighting for. Can’t always get everything a certain way, but basic respect and people’s voices matter. All views and genuine consideration & incorporation of those views are essential for growth, progress, & solving problems. Too many games, politics, power, money, and the majority of people, I would imagine (regardless of views in any particular area), do not want to further that system or culture. At some point, even if your voice is one of the one’s heard now…if you stray with different ideas/views, the culture/consequences have been defined, set, and executed as to what happens. I guess if a person is ok w/ that, then that’s his/her choice. But in general, people want info, they want truth, they want questions answered, and they want the full picture to make informed decisions about what they are supporting or opposing. You do provide that. Important service, but many things that come to light are disappointing…at the very least. And there are other ways to implement initiatives that don’t involve oppression and disrespect of others which makes some of what continues to occur under the presentation of empowerment, social justice, civil rights, choice, ground-up change, growing leaders, etc. pretty depressing. If you can’t get accurate information or you’re not respected enough to have your voice heard & genuinely considered, you can’t be empowered and you can’t make informed choices. That to me is not “just,” does not place a value on our current civil rights, and certainly isn’t conducive to helping others emerge as independent thinking leaders who engage in initiating true ground-up change. So for me, I still support the concepts of having choices, empowerment, justice, civil rights, ground-up change…it just seems less and less like that is what is occurring the way I, and I know others interpreted it & I was challenged to look at it.

  4. Jason, you have been a beacon of light to all of us who have joined you in fighting this war. Think of this analogy: in order for fields to produce good harvests, they must be allowed to lie fallow from time to time to rebuild the integrity of the soil. Give yourself a break and feel no need to explain when you need time to regroup. Thanks to you, many others are now taking up this fight! As a public school teacher not afraid to speak out, I thank you for opening my eyes.

    1. Thanks! I took my break already actually. This was my explanation of my absence and recommitment to the cause as it were. I am so grateful to all the folks who have taken up arms in this fight but disgusted by all the greed and lobbyists that control so much of our government and officials. It’s sickening but I’ve had time to watch ans match actions with words. I hope that just because the legislative session is over people don’t let up on the pressure. . .

  5. Scoop from the LSBA last week was that White is out, Dobard is in. It’ll be interesting to see if the Jindal anti-CCSS/PARCC charge has enough traction with the BESE. Jindal’s money bag boy bought the BESE. Is the cash cow committed to Common Core or merely any whim Bobby dreams up? Dobard is less principled than PP or Whitey. I imagine Erin Bendily will be his handler. Dobard was actually the first PP data manipulator – changing the requirements until he had 21 High Poverty – High Performing for PP’s new “awards.” Might be better off with White until Vitter trots in and cleans out the little TFA haven.

      1. He’s an odd character. Its hard to know exactly how he would act if given full hold of the reins. I imagine he would be a figurehead and Bendilly would be running the show if he took over for White. He’d probably stay the course and lay lower than White…certainly on the national scene.

    1. I may be wrong — if so, ignore me. But doesn’t Vitter support the phony “school choice” in the form of charters and vouchers? I’m fairly certain he does. If that is the case, I’m guessing the little TFA haven will only expand, assuming he is the anointed guvunuh. 😦

      1. That is correct but Vitter may have his own favors to pay back. He may be forced into adopting more strict controls on charters if pressure from conservative groups continues to build. I don’t see him alienating his base and many charters operate irresponsibly and in embarrassing ways. I see him wanting to rein that in a bit just so he won’t have to deal with defending fraud and waste.

  6. Love the graphic … Looks like a CrawDaddy got a bit hungry and decided to take a trip out of the pond, I reckon.

    Thanks again for being “regular people” and sharing with “regular people”. Good job!

  7. Considering everything that is happening now that makes us all feel pessimistic, we all must keep on fighting. I have a feeling no one is going to pull you off the stage. I never heard you speak, but if what you say is even half as good as most of the articles you have written, I think the audience will want more and not less.

    In eight minutes when it becomes June 12, 2014, it will be the day of my retirement party. I hope that in retirement I will be able to write and say more. I have been having a few minor health issues these days (mostly because of overwork), but once I begin to relax a little, I will channel my energy to help save an institution that made this country great.

    Francis, keep on plugging.

  8. The Lafayette newspaper this morning has one of the whorehouse BESE members giving an opinion that Jindal should get us out of Common Core. She’ll likely run for Walter Lee’s seat. I guess that partially answers Mickey’s implied question about Jindal’s contributor that bought his BESE. So that’ll be 3 votes against White. Who’ll be next to jump? I’ll bet the other appointee. Then the guy who beat Guice with Jindal’s backing. How many votes to boot the supe?

  9. Vitter is unlikely to keep the superintendent linked to Bobby, and a new super won’t keep the appointed underage upper echelon of White’s staff. He’ll hire new crooks.

  10. It takes a supermajority of BESE to oust the Superintendent. 8 votes or more (of 11). If Jindal forces his 3 appointees, then they still need to get 5 of the 8 elected members to go along with the plan. Lottie Beebe and Carolyn Hill would probably be happy to do so. Not so sure about the others.

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