Today was an interesting day at the Claiborne building in downtown Baton Rouge. Today was the much anticipated climax of significant back and forth politicking between Governor Jindal and his mail ordered State Superintendent of Education, John White. Today was the day Louisiana got a front row seat to the attempted abortion of the illegitimate Education Love Child known as Common Core and the testing consortium known as PARCC, conceived in back room deals and between these two star-crossed (and now double-crossing) education reformers.

Of course John White insisted on boring and dubious analysis of the situation that everyone who was there already knew all too well. Usually this is simply annoying and infuriating, but today was a little different since he didn’t have a trusty and redundant PowerPoint to stall over and guide him through the highlights. It appeared White was talking somewhat off the cuff. When you talk for hours on end you eventually make some mistakes. When you lie about everything to everyone, it is inevitable that you will contradict yourself and your previous statements.

Let’s discuss some of them.

John White confirmed that the test questions for next year will be different than this year and that test questions always change every year, regardless of who cast the testing contract and regardless of the test containing PARCC questions or not. This contradicts John White’s earlier testimony and assertions to the legislature related to disclosing previously administered tests to parents to review. White claimed this would cause a lot of unnecessary expense and force the department to create new questions. When White testified before the legislature this spring he claimed if test questions were released the tests would need to be reworked because those questions could never be used again. However today, before BESE, John White confessed these questions are changed every year. They are not used every year anyways so releasing these tests should not be a problem, right? Inadvertently he defeated his own argument against allowing parents to review the exams being administered to their children.

Today John White made an assertion that the current environment is very confusing and clarity was needed for teachers, parents and students. (Who wouldn’t agree with that?) He claimed this clarity could only be achieved by seeking a legal expert, seeking a legal opinion and filing a lawsuit to resolve the legal conflicts between BESE, LDOE and the Governor’s office. He was partially correct. What is going on is very confusing. Bobby Jindal and BESE conceived this chaos 4 years ago today when they adopted Common Core without it being finalized. John White midwifed Common Core for Jindal and BESE, but then snuck around on the state and cheated on us, conceiving a PARCC contract during his philandering with other reform organizations. White tried to pass off PARCC as the governor’s offspring by adopting it through an old non-bid contract. White thought he could force Louisiana and Jindal to adopt PARCC and pay to support this progeny of his relationship with CCSSO and the PARCC board – both organizations he holds leadership positions with. White obviously wants to hold onto these relationships, while also courting Louisiana and Jindal as the sugar daddy that will pay for him and them. Where John White was incorrect was in his proposal for resolving this conflict in time to bring clarity to our teachers. I have never heard of a situation where bringing lawyers and lawsuits into a dispute resolves that situation quickly. White also claimed lawyers and lawsuits will bring clarity. . . Maybe in a few years. . . but school starts up next month. Can anyone say with any confidence getting lawyers involved with resolve this situation swiftly or with clarity in the next few weeks? This is a recipe for complete disaster; one which John White could mitigate by simply putting everything on hold while these questions are resolved to the clarity level he feels comfortable with.

John White previously made the statement that there was no Plan B, because there was no legal option no Plan B was conceivable. Today however White backtracked and not only admitted that he had a Plan B, but that the situation is beyond his legal expertise and does not look like it will be resolved before the start of the school year. That’s why he and BESE President Chas Roemer are seeking legal experts. . . because they recognize this is a complex situation that will need to be decided in the courts based on the decision made by Jindal, John White and Chas Roemer. That was the ultimate decision of today’s meeting; to acquire the services of legal experts to council and perhaps file a lawsuit. This decision to make this issue complex is entirely John White’s and Chas Roemer’s, but they will not be the ones that have to bear the brunt of their decision. Teachers will be impacted. Students and parents will be impacted. Just about everyone but the ones creating this chaos will be harmed by the confusion they have chosen to sew into this situation. They are content to consult a lawyer and point their finger’s a Jindal while this slow moving train plods towards the August cliff of the imminent school year.

When you find yourself in a hole, and decide you need to get out, you stop digging. Before implementing new changes that may harm one of the parties, judges initiate injunctions to prevent either party from proceeding while the courts resolve the differences. As was brought up multiple times during today’s BESE session by BESE members Lottie Bebee, Jane Smith and distinguished educator and blogger Michael Deshotels, Louisiana had some of the highest regarded, nationally recognized standards in the nation. They were defined as one of the top 2 sets of standards in the United States. We used them for the most part last year and all the years before. We have those standards to rely upon while we await the rulings John White and Chas Roemer feel we need to bring clarity to this situation. We have our tests from last year that were aligned with the current curriculum. We spent quite a bit of time and money developing them. They contain some questions based on the national standards White and Roemer claim we are obligated to benchmark our tests against. We can stay the course while the courts resolve these questions Roemer and White claimed multiple times they are unqualified to clarify for themselves without involving lawyers and filing lawsuits. We adopted these standards 4 years ago blindly and without any input from parents – because they weren’t finalized and there was nothing to comment upon. Now that we have seen these standards implemented parents see they are worse than what we had. Education Reform has put our state in hole and riled up parents across the state to reject this corporately driven and funded agenda of which PARCC and Common Core are a significant part. The hole we find ourselves in is just getting deeper and less stable. Even our political leaders can’t decide among themselves what to do without resorting to lawyers. This was a mistake born of too much inexperienced enthusiasm without enough thought towards consequences or protection. It’s time for plan B. It’s time to stop digging. After 4 years, it’s time to stop screwing around with education and start being responsible.

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27 thoughts on “Plan B: One-Step for Addressing PARCC and Common Core

  1. Why can’t he Legislature hold him accountable for the outright lies/distortions of truth and now a “new” message concerning conflicting information on test questions parents asked to review? Is it possible legislators voted based of this mis-statement? Why don’t they withhold funding until a full accounting is done? Why don’t they view and use the Legislative Auditors report(s) on violations and mis-use of public funding? All I know is that when I wasalocal superintendent, these were considered offenses that would have removed me from employment in this state. Why not Johnny Boy?

    1. Because BESE has to act to remove White and they have apparently decided to hitch their wagons to White’s star over Jindal’s. When you hire or create an education superstar you can lose the ability to manage them effectively.

      Additionally, Jindal has fostered this culture of lawlessness during his tenure, no one should be surprised when his minions emulate him. Character, principles and the rule of law do matter. It’s times like these, when everyone is watching, that it becomes so stark and visible but this is not a new situation, just a sad and inevitable one born in an environment that was fertile ground for this result. I hope we choose our next state leader for their character and not their fame and money. It is not looking good right now though.

  2. Don’t worry, anyone who has ever tried to dig a hole here in south Louisiana knows what happens. The deeper you get, the muddier it becomes, until the whole thing starts collapsing. It’s only a matter of time. The Confederacy of Dunces will keep us entertained while our public education system sinks deeper into insanity. Thank a God for the teachers who will continue to close their doors and teach our children, even as the “clarity” becomes less clear.

  3. The biggest surprise of the day – and questionably the biggest lie – was when White announced that the 2013/14 iLEAP tests were posted on the LDE website. That was to counter the ever increasing complaint that no one is allowed to see the tests after they are taken. There is only one reason why White would suddenly post the tests on the website – he thought it would ensure that those tests could now not be used again. What a SNAKE! I am not convinced by the way that those are the actual tests given. Parents must demand to see their child’s graded test. We could end all this fairly quickly I think.

    1. Jason, is there some way to determine when the released test items were placed on the LDOE website? I am a teacher and I have never seen or heard of this being done before. Or, did I miss this every year? Given my revulsion toward high stakes tests, I guess that could be a possibility as I try to limit my exposure to toxic elements in my life. Here is the link published by Danielle D. In her live stream chat of the circus/ meeting on July 1.

      http://www.louisianabelieves.com/resources/library/released-test-items

      I totally agree with Lee; this was a premeditated act by Mr. White to preempt the use of last year’s test again this year in order to stick with PARCC at all costs.

      Of course, Mr. White also testified that new questions are used every year and then whined that we are out of questions. If new tests are used each year, then new questions must be written each year, no?

      Please provide CLARITY.

      Thanks again for all that you do!

        1. Please help me understand this, how many members of the board did the Governor select for this position? And how many were voted in to this position? And who how many are agreeing with the Governor and how many are disagreeing? Where they elected or voted into this position? Just what to know, so that I can analyze this.

          1. 2/3 governor appointees did not vote in opposition to BESE’s decision. Had these 2 voted with the other 3 I believe the vote would have been 5-4 to not pursue action against the governor should White and Jindal cannot resolve. In addition 2 elected BESE members were absent on what many consider the most important vote they have had in some time. My question really is, with 2 appointees not voting along the governors “public” view, just how serious was the Governors objections?

            1. That is a valid point, Randy. The gov appoints 3 of 11. 8 are elected. One of those missing is indicted for multiple felonies connected to BESE. The most recent appointment, Jane Smith, is leading the charge. Jindal could ask for resignations of other two and put pressure on them in other ways. I will be looking to see that. We have a train wreck waiting to happen here.

              1. Ok. So, 3 of the 11 members, the Governor selected and somebody who had that the same agenda that the Governor had, help, (financially) some of the others get elected. hmmmmmmm…. This is very interesting. Well, there was a Plan B before the Race to the Top Federal dollars. hmmmmmmmmm….. And Mr. Paul is back in town! What?

            2. Thanks, Mr. Pope. So, the board consist of 11 members or 8 members with three members-at-large? And what does “members-at-large mean? And how many are on the official board that can vote? I am asking questions because I don’t know.

              1. Is reading – 3 appointed by Jindal, jane Smith, judith Miranti, Connie Bradford. They do not represent a specific district (members at large). 11 members total. All vote.

      1. Candyce, Lottie Beebe was just as shocked as you when he said that. Do you remember her questioning him and specifically asked him if he sent emails. He said yes. Considering you didn’t get anything and I’m sure she and her administrators didn’t get anything either, it is probably another one of his lies. He wants to create confusion so he can say we have to do PARCC because now we have no Leap questions. This man and the majority of the BESE board are truly unbelievable. They do not care about children. Dr. Muranti seemed to be in a fog the entire meeting. She didn’t even seem to know what PARCC was. It was a very sad day and Roemer was itching to sue and get that heard as soon as the meeting opened. Thankfully Bradford wasn’t willing to let Roemer, Garvey and Boffy decide on their own to continue with a lawsuit – that should say something.

    2. Here is a link to what USED to be released each year: (up to 2012)

      http://web.archive.org/web/20120413003701/http://www.louisianaschools.net/topics/released_test_items.html

      Only a very small sample of questions with the emphasis on explaining format and scoring of constructed response. Common sense, helpful and easily ‘reconstituted.’ 🙂

      I will keep digging to see if anything was released last year. I’m also going to take a closer look at those 2014 questions and my student results to check percentages. Something doesn’t look right.

      1. To: Ms. Mom, this state will not release test questions unless the major of the students in this state got that question correct. There are other states that “say” that they have released the previous’ years test questions, but who can be sure? No one, but the creators of the test know. Several years ago, this states’, ELA test scores dropped, state wide and the DOE would not allow any one to look at that test to analyze why. Several districts lost schools to the state at that time. Also, remember, there are people working at DOE, that are not from this state and can create questions that they “say” are test released questions. Who knows? No one should be viewing the test before it is administer to the children of this state. Wow!

  4. Students in LEAP remediation for summer school recently were re-tested. Now we are told the contract for this company expired — will the tests even be graded? Does anyone know? What about the poor students who sat through summer school and worked so hard on these tests? Things just keep going from bad to worse! We spend so much time testing and collecting “data” that we don’t have time to involve students in the joys of learning!

    1. In the district that I live in, I was told by some people who work for the school district, that if the students attended summer school, they will be move on to high school. The district leaders knew this before hand. Another, hmmmmmmmm…….

      1. I’ve heard there is an 8.5 program in EBR that moves 8th graders to highschool campus regardless of whether they pass test or qualify. They work on some remedial work and HS work.

        1. Yes, that is what I was told, too. The district did this several years ago. Which was ok, because of the students’ age, but the district did not have a good plan or program in place to assist those students with the skills or concepts that they were missing and that would also help them to graduate on time. It can be done, but it will take some serious planning for those individual students.

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