I was recently contacted to investigate and Louisiana Department of Education story that sounded too absurd to be true. I was told John White had hired as many as 100 interns at 25 grand a pop for a few months of summer work. That comes to 2.5 million dollars in just straight up pay. If the department was responsible for, SSN, employment taxes and Medicaid this could easily be a 3.5 million dollar program.

can you look into something I just heard of… approximately 100 interns hired this summer by LDOE, 3 months of work for $25,000 pay. 25 thousand. many from California apparently. and John White didn’t have enough budget to keep me on his roll last year (I’m one of the 65-70 let go last May). Thanks

I did not want to bring this to the attention of the public until I had some more information, so I did a little digging. I came across this newsletter that came directly from John White and LDOE dated June 4th.

Welcome Summer Interns

We are happy to welcome interns within various divisions of the department. In order to allow for a smooth transition with us and in making their stay successful, we ask your assistance in making them feel welcome and in assisting them with procedures, policies, paperwork, and maneuvering around the department.

We will benefit from having extra staff on board who are here to assist us in our work while learning the difference in what we are doing for the children in our state.

This newsletter issued by LDOE and signed by John White clearly indicates that these interns exist, that there are many of them helping out in many departments across LDOE. Before I could report on this I felt I needed to find out the specifics: how many interns, who are they, what their salaries are, and who is paying for them.

Before anyone can get access to LDOE they would need to have paperwork set up for badges to be created to get past security. They would have to be entered in the HR and payroll system to get checks. The would need to have computers issues to them, e-mail address requested, and e-mails would have to go to specific departments to introduce these interns. I figured I could get some of this information from a simple Freedom of Information request. State and Federal agencies are required by law to turn over records and information (including e-mails) in their possession upon request. In Louisiana they have 72 hours to respond how they will answer the request. LDOE usually sends a response saying they will look for info and get back to you. I got this one:

With regards to the above-mentioned request as written, and within the ambit of La. R.S. 44:1 et seq. the Department will identify and locate any public records in its’ possession that are responsive to the above written requests.  After any responsive items have been identified, the Department will segregate and set aside those public records and will make them available for your inspection.  You will be contacted in order to make arrangements for this process.  I can be reached at (225) 342-6985 should you have any questions regarding this matter.

I submitted my request on June 6thBelow is the text of my request.

Pursuant to the Public Records Act of Louisiana, R.S. 44:1 et seq., I respectfully request the following information:

  • Please provide a count of interns hired in relation to this June 4th announcement in the LDOE newsletter from John White. (A copy of the text is enclosed for your reference.)
  • Please provide the salary and compensation package provided to these “interns”
  • Please provide a list/names of all interns.
  • Please provide the posting(s) used to recruit interns.
  • Please provide any contract related to acquiring/recruiting these interns with any organization
  • Please provide the funding source used to pay for this internship program
  • Please provide total cost of this internship program. ( If this was a grant, please provide info on the grantee and the grant application LDOE submitted.  If this is internal funds please describe this as internal department funding. Please separate out costs to LDOE and from external sources, if this is a joint project  )
  • Please list the roles/functions of these interns.
  • Please list all departments where interns were assigned and approximate numbers assigned per department.
  • Please provide a list of all supervisors or Department staff responsible for managing this program and/or these interns.
  • Please provide the duration of these intern assignments.
  • Please provide the hours per week these interns are expected to work.
  • Please provide the requirements interns were required to have to be employed.
  • Please provide details on any other promises, benefits, housing allowances, or enticements used to recruit interns. 

 

It took LDOE 20 days to get back to me that they had no records in their possession.

June 26, 2014

 Jason France (Emailed to: jasonfrance@hotmail.com)     

Mr. France:

The Department’s public affairs office has requested that I inform you that the Department is not in possession of any public records responsive to your June 16, 2014 request regarding interns.

 

It is actually impossible that LDOE did not have any records in their possession responsive to my request. They sent out a newsletter about these interns which at least would have qualified. LDOE is clearly violating the law, as they always do whenever it is convenient, or just because they think it’s funny. John White recently complained about Bobby Jindal violating the law by pulling the state out of PARCC.

Jindal “breached a constitutional line and broke the law in suspending assessments in Louisiana for reasons that defy the civil rights of our state’s citizens,” White told POLITICO in an interview on Wednesday.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/jindal-ally-blasts-common-core-illegal-108321.html#ixzz3643Z9xsg

John White is always violating the law. These interns are but the latest example of how John White has turned out state into a training ground for the national reform movement on Louisiana’s dime. Every year John White takes on “fellows” and assistant superintendents he recruits from the New Teacher Project, Teach for America, and other reform organizations. These employees rarely show up for work, have no assigned responsibilities (which is why you will never see an up to date phone list with any of these six figured salaried folks listed.) These specific interns are reportedly making 25 thousand dollars for 2 months of work. At this rate of pay they are being paid the equivalent of 150,000 per year per intern in just base salary, which is far more than just about any employee earns but John White. I’m guessing that these “interns” have not even finished college yet (I wouldn’t have to guess if they weren’t violating the law by refusing to release details), but they are earning 6 figure salary equivalents, and John White is refusing to acknowledge their existence or what their responsibilities are, just as he does for most of his entourage that recycles regularly throughout the department upper echelons.

Even more tragic and infuriating, John White is spending all this money at a time when teacher’s pay has been stagnant for 3 or more years, most public employees from this state (especially LDOE) have not received a pay raise in 4 or more years and many districts are facing bankruptcy as a direct result of his unfunded mandates and policies. John White did this at the same time he eliminated hundreds of full time employees from Louisiana that worked year round for what he is paying these interns to bounce around at LDOE for 2 months. John White’s absurd hypocrisy does not end there however. White was originally hired at 275,000 a year as state Superintendent. According to his 2013 ethics filing he is making 305,000 a year. Apparently John White gave himself a nice 11+% increase in his salary, roughly the equivalent of one of these fancy California interns’ pay, or close to the medium salary of a normal Department of Education employee. John White’s pay is also about three times the salary of Louisiana’s Governor.

http://ethics.la.gov/PFDisclosure/PFD14001890/EthicsDisclosureDownload.pdf


Education Reform is very profitable business. I’m sure all of this is “for the children.”

I think it’s time John White was held personally financially responsible for all the fines he is forcing the state of Louisiana to incur for his refusal to obey State public disclosure laws. He can certainly afford it, and if it ever gets too pricy, he can always give himself another raise to make up the difference.

Are there any lawyers out there interested in helping me file a case for this blatant violation of RS 44:1 and a number of other ones that have been flaunted over the years? This post already contains the proof you need to be successful and I am expecting some other recent requests to be denied as well.

John White has apparently divorced the wife he left behind in New York, or he knowingly filed a false financial disclosure to the ethics commission. Until we can divorce him from our state, we need to hold him accountable for his actions.

 

 

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44 thoughts on “Did LDOE hire 100 summer Interns at 25,000 a piece?

  1. Great reporting and I would like to add that as a recently barred attorney who interned WITHOUT PAY for approximately 3 years I can’t imagine why or how John White can justify paying $25k to interns for 2 months when law students don’t get paid anything to intern and neither do many others who are in training in their various professions. This is insane and gross misspending as he fires employees and teachers face cuts.

    More insider trading between LDOE and Teach for America.

    Thank you for this report. Very good and very important to bring to the public!

    Anna Lellelid

    Sent from my phone…

    >

  2. I worked for almost 25 as a teacher for the children of MY state and barely made $50,000. If they had to pay me for all of the hours that I worked without pay including summers for JAG, they would really owe me A LOT more according to this insanity. When is Jindal going to fire White like he did to every other person who went against his wishes? Or is this all game to Jindal and White to show the rest of the country that the people of Louisiana really are stupid!!!

    1. Hard to say. I’m surprised with the intensity of the rhetoric and ineffectual actions on the part of the governor. I can understand why some people are skeptical. This is what happens when you bring in outsiders with bigger ambitions than your own. I think even the governor underestimated just how evil, ambitious and destructive Reformers are. He’s finally getting a taste of what we have been dealing with for years. I have little sympathy for him. He brought this curse down upon us singlehandedly. He needs to fix it or this will haunt him for the rest of his career. I will make sure of that.

  3. My son interned for two years doing research for a neurosurgical group in which he was given hospital privileges to shadow various doctors. He worked five days a week, approximately 10 hours per day from the middle of May until the end of August. For all of this, he received a stipend of $500!!!!

    Most interns in this country make nothing to maybe a couple of grand. This is nothing less than the robbery of public money. I hope you succeed Frances. I want the names of all these interns to be publicized. I will bet that most of them come from well-connected families. Mr. White really has to come up with a good reason why some college student is being paid $25,000 for eight weeks of clerical work. I think he needs to explain this to an audience made up of fast-food workers, Walmart employees, novice teachers from North Carolina.

  4. While I do enjoy reading your blog, as a teacher, it frustrates me deeply to see the enormous amount of spelling and grammar errors. Please take the time to proofread your blogs before posting and then, read it again after you post it.

    1. I wish I had time. I have a full time job and young kids to watch, often by myself. If it bothers you that much you can read newspapers. They don’t contain a lot of new content. The content they contain is mostly regurgitated from other sources or repeated verbatim from those who are robbing you blind. However, they can afford their own editors and proofreaders and they pay their journalists to produce excellently proofed and spellchecked work during normal working hours.

      Instead of complaining perhaps you would like to volunteer some of your own time to proofread my pieces and send them back to me with corrections at crazycrawfish@yahoo.com.

      Thanks,
      Busy father raising two young children by himself while wife is out of town in his spare time on the weekends for zero compensation.

      1. Keep delivering the truth, Jason. I find what you write so compelling that I easily overlook the occasional stumble just to be able to read something of substance. I am finishing up 36 years as an ELA teacher, and I will take your writing any day over the pap published in mainstream media like The Abdicate. The service you provide is changing lives!

        1. The newspaper is filled with them as well. I overlook them. That isn’t the point. If this blog were about any other topic, I wouldn’t care. The fact is, it is about education and its success or failure depending on the side you are on. Everyday, teachers are put on the firing line and accused of being lazy and ineffective. If it is worth doing, and you have time to write it, then you have time to proof it.

          1. You know. You may be right. I really should have been spending more time with my kids and mowing my way overgrown lawn than trying to defend people like you at significant personal risk to myself, my family and my career. If there was a way to defend everyone else and leave you to the reformers I would strongly consider it. When people hold doors for you do you critique their technique? When people give you presents do you compelled to tell them you wish they had just spent the money to get it gift wrapped since their wrapping sucks so much it takes away from the gift ( which incidentally should have been a different color)

    2. “Please” Volunteer and help Mr. Crazycrawfish. He has responded to this type of message time and time again. I(We/Some of Us) love to read this blog wrong grammar usage and all. He needs HELP. Did you donate money when he was asking for some money to be able to paid someone to help him?

        1. People, give him a break. I too, when I type quickly, make those kooky grammar errors. What comes out of this blog and many others come from the heart. We bloggers research and write as quickly as we can (or as time allows in our very busy lives) to save public education in this country. As a student of history, one knows that when a society abandons the type of public education that leads to a citizenry that can make informed decisions, democracy’s death is not far behind. Jefferson and Mann must be turning over in their graves.

  5. How would this benefit JW? What connections/votes/supports would CA residents who haven’t graduated from college get him? I’m not doubting that it happened, just trying to understand the motivation.

    1. He has turned LDOE into a reformers paradise. Kids come in, party on Bourbon street for a few months or years, then go out and take up leadership positions in a growing web of reformer connections. They are aiming to run just about everything eventually but education in general and Louisiana in particular is their staging area. White got this position through his network of connections. That will be how he gets all his future jobs and kickbacks.

      1. I thought they just drove up the rents in the Bywater district? They party, too? I bet they even have beignets and café au lait for breakfast.

  6. Jason,

    Don’t even bother with the grammar police. In the time he or she spent being an ass, the piece could have been proofed. Haters gonna hate!

    Keep up the good work. I, like most other people are far from perfect and would not feel comfortable publicly embarassing someone like you: a good hard working person.

    As for the one with his/her drawers on too tight: Bye Felicia!
    P.S. Just google that. Urban dictionary will explain. 🙂

    Peace!

    1. Thanks. 🙂 If newspapers aren’t accurate enough for her/him, I’m not sure that’s someone that can be satisfied. I feel sorry for any spouse they might have or have had once. 😉

      1. Look, if it keeps grammar nazis off your back, feel free to email your blogs to me. I’ll proofread them and email them back for you to post. I have 3 children and 1 due any day now but I am a stay-at-home mom and may have “slightly” more free time than you. This is a very important cause to me and I hate to see a person who is working so hard to help us be so unapologetically maligned. My name is Samantha Thomas and my email address is samantha.thomas815@gmail.com

  7. From this ELA teacher, thank you! Content is what I look for and if the ‘errors’ do not affect the readability or meaning, a happy camper. This is true for your blog. I’m not concerned about any small amount of errors as long as you’re reporting is accurate:) thank you!! Now, have the television or papers been notified of your findings and the state’s response?? What’s their response? This is a story!! I’m reposting on Facebook for my lawyer friends. I hope they bite:)

        1. None needed. We all make them, all the time. The worst thing that can happen is we fail to post or comment out of fear of not being perfect. I’d rather be an imperfect gold nugget than a perfect cow patty any day of the week.

    1. I have not heard from anyone. Occasionally newspapers and TV stations pick up my stories but they never contact me or attribute anything to me. We will be unable to force disclosure of info before this intern program is over and probably John White will have moved on. If there was nothing here I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t just hand the info over. The fact they took such a ridiculous stand against revealing anything ( even previously disclosed info) is highly suspicious.

  8. In your opening paragraph you say that it’s too absurd to believe. Then, when your request for information is unfulfilled, you run with the wildest of (preconceived) conspiracies. You should should affiliate yourself with the king of yellow journalism, Woody Jenkins. In the absence of facts, just report on rumor and speculation.

    I’m sure you see yourself as a guardian of something. You are doing a disservice to the public by propagating your wild theories. It is especially egregious when you admit to having no factual basis for them.

    1. Don’t be so sure I have not verified this in ways I cannot reveal. This is not a wild conspiracy, it is what was reported to me and is being actively and illegally concealed. My “request” for information is a legal obligation the department is supposed to comply with but which has chosen not to. An obvious conclusion is that they don’t want to confirm what I have reported and verified is occuring through their own newsletters and from numerous internal wittness accounts.

      Who are you the guardian of might I ask? Thieves and corrupt public officials? Nice job.

      Incidentally, I did not admit I have no basis for them. I presented evidence and reports I have and produced analysis of what they mean and possible costs and implications.

    2. When you choose to break the law rather than explain your side of the story you incriminate yourself. Thank you for your critique, I trust the intelligence of my readers enough for them to decide if I am wasting their time. They didn’t seem to mind when I exposed the SSN’s being secretly shared to corporations, the hidden teacher abuses at EBR, the overhyperd VAM teacher evaluation system, the manipulation of VAM to please a single legislator at the expense of hundreds of innocent teachers, the toxic environment hundreds if kids were being subjected to at John Mcdonogh in New Orleans, the shadow schools, child suicides being exploited for political fame, rampant state sponsored child abuse, virtual schools being funded for students that never attend, Course choice providers recruiting overage disabled adults for advanced mathmatics classes paid for from MFP funds, common core being intentionally bungled, or hundreds of other “yellow journalism” pieces as you call them. Lol. You are a sad, dysfunctional person, at best, or very likely someone with criminal connections profiting off of school deform. Go read press releases from your local newspaper. They are state approved, have fewer grammar issues and are largely content free so you will have very little to object to.

  9. “Don’t be so sure I have not verified this in ways I cannot reveal. This is not a wild conspiracy, it is what was reported to me and is being actively and illegally concealed.”

    You have an unnamed source, evidence that can’t be revealed and, of course, there’s a coverup. Sorry, I’m not taking that leap of faith with you.

    Let’s face it, your musings are nothing more than a hit piece on John White. You don’t like him for some reason. Maybe because he makes more money than you. Stick with your first instinct. It’s too bizarre to be true.

    Take the time you’ve invested in muckraking and spend more time with your kids. That would be a greater contribution to society.

    1. Lol. Thanks for the advice. You have obviously not read my blog. Why start now? Go spend time with your John White. I hear he’s single and has lots of money. He could probably use a shoulder to cry on.

  10. “You are a sad, dysfunctional person, at best, or very likely someone with criminal connections profiting off of school deform.”

    This sentence is evidence of your ability to leap to a conclusion without any information whatsoever. I certainly hope you use a more rigorous approach in your “investigations”, but I doubt it.

    I followed a link to your posting. I had low expectations, and they have been confirmed. You are bringing discredit to whatever cause you think you are advancing.

    1. I have plenty of evidence provided by you and you continue to supply more that further confirms my assessment.

      Thanks for replying. I judge the success of my posts in reaching new audiences by the numbers of self-rightous crazies that stop by and feel they need to declare their superiority by trying to elevate their stature at the expense of others. For every one or two of you I acquire 30-40 permanent new readers and reach around 500 -1000 new peeps. Score!

  11. From your “About” page: “I talk to friend, foe and anything in between.”

    I was none of the above when I landed on your page, just an open minded guy trying to get some information. The only knowledge I’m leaving with is that you are delusional. None of your responses have been in defense of your post about the alleged intern scandal. Instead, you want to be childish and call names. Now, apparently, I’m the troll.

    I never heard of you before. I see that you entertain fantasies of being elected to BESE. You need to take a hard look at how you communicate with folks. This Crazycrawfish persona isn’t going to wear well on the campaign trail.

    1. I seem to recall being likened to the king of yellow journalism and a muckraker. If you are going to employ revisionist history tactics, make sure you remove the actual history first. You came as an enemy and you were treated as such.

      Note that I am talking to you. I never claimed I allow enemies to come in my house and take a dump on the carpet and walk away unscathed. You are the troll. You continue to attack me rather than try understand any context. And I think my persona will be fine. What is your real name. Tell us about yourself Larry the Troll so that we can judge you as you have judged me.

    2. As fun as indulging your delusions has been, I will be ignoring any future posts from you and start deleting your responses. Your personal obsession with attacking me personally is taking up more of my time than I care to expend. It’s not personal. Its not because you are particularly adept or persuasive in your attacks, its just that you are a complete waste of time and I have more important things to do. Have a nice life.

  12. The interns are all over the 4th floor of the Claiborne Building. They do exist but somehow, John White says they don’t…

    1. There is zero question that they exist. What I don’t know are exact numbers or amounts they are getting paid. I asked LDOE to supply this info and they illegally declined to disclose. Why? I have sources that report there are a ridiculous number of them being paid a ridiculous amount… to do nothing. That would be a good reason to violate the law and refuse to disclose that info. I reissued my FOIA request and sent them a copy of my blog. If they don’t respond then they are assenting to the accuracy. The truth might actually be worse.

      1. Mr. Crazycrawfish, keep on blogging. I was told my parents that what every you do in the dark will come to light. So, if the light IS going to shine in the near future. Keep up the good work because we are reading, just look at the comments. LOL

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