This is an update to a story I’ve been meaning to get back to for a while on Louisiana’s textbook selection and adoption process. According to my sources Louisiana required most vendors to pay 500 dollars per book to evaluate each grade level of each subject. I have no details of where those dollars went. I was told this was the first year the department ever charged to review books. I was also told the only two first tier (best according to LDOE) vendors that were selected (Eureka for Math and Core Knowledge for ELA) did not have to pay this fee, but I have not been able to confirm this. I received some information from sources that were able to acquire the lists of all external reviewers of textbooks. I have been able to contact some of these folks to confirm this, and have confirmed their participation through some of their own online postings. I will not be turning over all of the research files as yet, but I will be publishing the names of the Math reviewers. There were only 7 reviewers for the Math curriculum selected for the entire state (15 reviewers were used for the ELA evaluation.) I have tried interviewing and questioning these folks either on or off the record, but none have agreed to comment on the selection process – even after replying to me initially. I would like to know how they were compensated, whether their instructions involved assessing the quality of the materials (which is particularly lacking with the first tier Eureka materials) among other things.
Louisiana Textbook Reviewers by Review Area
|Math K-5||Brittany||Bush (K-5)|
|Math K-5||Katie||Dunn (K-5)|
|Math K-5||Laci||Maniscalco (K-5)|
|Math K-5||Kristina||Morris (K-5)|
|Math 6-8, 9-12||Aquanetta||Archangel|
|Math 6-8, 9-12||Tamara||Whittington|
|Math 6-8, 9-12||Jessica||Hunter|
My earlier story can be found here: https://crazycrawfish.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/louisianas-texbook-selection-shenanigans/
It appears John White, Superintendent of Education, has links to the only two tier one options selected, including one which is run by his former employers, Joel Klein, now the head of Amplify – a Rupert Murdoch (NewsCorp) subsidiary and sole provider of Core Knowledge published products. If this situation sounds familiar, you aren’t wrong. Jindal’s former head of the Department of Health and Hospitals, Bruce Greenstein, was just indicted on numerous counts of perjury related to tampering with the theoretically unbiased selection process or a 200+ million dollar Medicaid contract with Bruce Greenstein’s former employer, CNSI. I wonder if there is not some unsavory influences at work here as well. I really find it hard to believe Eureka is far and away the best Math product on the market and I’ve had firsthand experience with them and a tier 2 product that while not awesome, is much better than Eureka in my opinion (and my daughter throws fewer tantrums with this new one so I think she’s having an easier time of it too.)
I was provided this preliminary research by my source although you can find much more in LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, school websites, Stand For Children materials, LDOE’s website (lauding the choices with quotes without mentioning they were part of the selection committee), Facebook, etc.
|firstname.lastname@example.org 225-343-9364||5th grade teacher Capitol Elem http://edenpark.ebrschools.org/explore.cfm/facultystaff/brittanybush|
|charter school teacher New Beginnings Charter New Orleans||https://www.linkedin.com/pub/katie-dunn/24/1a8/31b|
|email@example.com Broadmoor Elem 3rd gr||Received $$ stipend and from publisher “LearnZillion” Curr: http://learnzillion.com/dreamteam went to SF, CA||http://gettingsmart.com/2012/03/learnzillion-one-of-the-scrappy-startups-making-dc-a-hotspot/|
|https://www.linkedin.com/pub/kristina-morris/4b/965/3b0||been teaching for 2 years and 3 months
|Naturallynette11@gmail.com “GOOGLE” Nette Archangel||I.A. Lewis School in Ruston LA, graduate of LA Tech teaching maybe 5 years http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfDPHSzh1y4|
|firstname.lastname@example.org||Hammond Jr HS Magnet|
|no info||Sterlington HS, Ouchita Schools|
|James Ward Elem in Jennings LA|
I think my inquiries were pretty non-threatening although I am a stranger. . .
I was given a list of all the folks who reviewed the various textbooks last year and assigned them to various “tiers”. Only 1 math option and one ELA option made it into tier one. I am trying to learn more about the process, instructions you were given, and how it came to be that in your case only one math provider, Eureka, made it into Tier one. We can converse on or off the record. I have sent or am sending e-mails to all math reviewers.
My children are also in public elementary schools and our LEA chose Eureka after going with a related version, EngageNY last year. I see some assignments that are interesting, but many that seem overly cumbersome, and with very poor quality in the instructions and examples departments. I was wondering how closely you and your teammates reviewed these materials, whether you were able to take into account quality and accuracy or materials, whether you really felt these were a solid choice, the best choice, or the best of available bad choices perhaps? Parents send me examples of their assignments and i see various ones posted different places.
Some teachers firmly embrace Common Core and some have significant problems with it. From reviewing the profiles of the reviewers i feel pretty sure everyone really embraces Common Core that was on the selection team so i am seeking some perspective and insight from that side of the debate. Sometimes when we like something, especially more than the alternative, we tend to overlook the flaws or measure them against our past experiences and options. I was wondering if you think that might have occurred, perhaps in retrospect? Any insight you can provide will be appreciated.
Perhaps coworkers can get more out of these folks?
I’m not really interested in calling their motivations into question, but I just want some answers to my questions. However, I do wonder if this set of teachers has all the necessary qualifications to evaluate materials for the entire state. I think it is important for school districts to understand who exactly made these evaluative decisions when factoring how they will invest their limited resources. I know firsthand that EngageNY was terrible, and first tier Eureka (as defined by these reviewers) is just EngageNY that costs money fraught with many of the same issues. Thankfully EBR ditched EngageNY/Eureka this year (they tried it out last year and found it very lacking) and went with a tier 2 product this year which while still perplexing and strangely worded at times, is much less error prone and confusing (or just plain wrong) than EngageNY/Eureka. Many parents are discovering this the hard way. I think the department and these evaluators should answer whether they felt comfortable evaluating this curriculum for the entire state. Several teachers only had a few years of teaching experience under their belts, yet they were responsible for evaluating 6 or more grade levels of content.
What are your thoughts on the math materials/curriculum your school district has adopted? It seems St Tammany and Calcasieu parents are pretty dissatisfied with Eureka based on the school board meetings I’ve seen reviewed in the news (and from parents on Facebook) . . .
Did the state really identify the best curriculum available by selecting Eureka, or do you think they really dropped the ball here?
Is this the test-tube creation of John White?