Why the truth is important even if it’s not always good

This is the second part of my last post/essay that ended with mission of revealing the truth, even if it is ugly.

When I first joined the Louisiana Department of Education it was during a Democratic Governor’s administration, Governor Kathleen Blanco.  However education reformers were filtering in like former LDOE Superintendent Paul Pastorek.  With them came new ideas, but also urgings to be less than forthcoming on some results and reports.  Many of our metrics were tinkered with behind the scenes – to help individual districts and regional Louisiana power brokers.  This bothered me, but I was told that’s “just the way it is.”

Regardless of who is in power, they all want to show themselves and their initiatives in the most positive light.

That’s the game.

Democrats and Republican’s both rationalize shading (also lying or concealing) as a means to an end.  They believe their ends justify their means.  I was told stories by my colleagues about previous administrations of both Republicans like Mike Foster and Democrats like Edwin Edwards, and whatever Buddy Roemer was (he was elected Governor as a Democrat and lost his reelection bid as a Republican), that backed this assertion up.

When Jindal came to power the game changed . . . a lot.  Beyond simple “shading” of results we entered a phase of full-blown falsification and manipulation of results to show specific outcomes for specific benefactors.  In the past this game was usually handled discreetly and with minor omissions or re-characterizations of data after it was gathered.  Anyone with enough time and understanding could have delved into the data and discovered their own versions of the truth.

Under Paul Pastorek’s and John White’s administrations this has taken the form of detailed plans developed with forethought and engineered for some very specific and targeted purposes.  Namely to show traditional schools in a negative light and charter schools and reform initiatives as positively as possible.   Some of these initiatives and the gerrymandering of results were known to Governor Jindal (like vouchers and charter schools), and approved by him.  Other initiatives were not but he was sold on and later (and regretted) like Common Core, inBloom, and Value Added Modeling (VAM) for measuring teachers.

(VAM measures teachers by linking them to student tests scores, but this method is statistically invalid and difficult to account for students at the upper and lower ends of the achievement spectrums.  VAM results have also been directly altered by the John White Administration to achieve specific results for specific teachers.)

When you permit your subordinates to shade or distort the truth for your own personal benefits and gains you walk a slippery slope that rarely ends well.

When our political leaders gave agencies like the CIA, FBI, IRS and NSA duties to perform  (protect the United States) and failed to properly oversee, monitor and constrain them we got these agencies reinterpreting their own missions to include warrantless wiretapping, torturing and assassinating Americans, allowing  these agencies to lie to Congress, and rationalizing handing over some major artillery to drug gangs.  It is imperative that our public institutions be open to the public and above reproach to prevent corruption, fraud, waste and avoidable tragic outcomes.  When we permit agencies and agency heads the discretion to lie to the public just to defend their policies from proper review and oversight we pervert the entire meaning of democratic rule.

The Jindal Administration has lost control of their agencies in Louisiana by encouraging department heads like John White of LDOE and the now indicted Bruce Greenstein of DHH to lie and distort facts to promote their agenda and goals.  When you have control of the data that reviews your own policies, and you alter that data (or allow your subordinates to alter or mischaracterize the data) you prevent the public from properly evaluating your performance and the efficacy of your policies.  When you refuse to allow others to look at your data, as John White and LDOE regularly does, you corrupt the democratic process.  People are forced to judge you based on the propaganda you have provided them and cannot make informed decisions.  Jindal won’t be in office forever, but his precedents for lying and concealing documents under “deliberative process” exceptions and from straight up refusals  requiring court orders will live on long after he becomes a failed presidential candidate.

Informed decision making is necessary for a healthy democracy.

When you allow your subordinates to lie, you may also be caught up in those lies.  Lies beget more lies to cover them up.  Eventually you don’t even know the truth because no one really does.  Without accurate evaluation of your policies you can’t determine if they are good or bad, how to make them better or which ones to terminate.   Your subordinates may also decide to lie and distort their performance for their own personal benefits and agendas as John White and Bruce Greenstein appear to have done.  The Jindal administration is only now coming to terms with how their subordinates lied and distorted more than they were unofficially authorized to do.  This is what the IRS, CIA, and NSA have done, which Congress and the Obama administration have been coming to terms with.  As a leader, once you normalize lying, distortion and corruption you lose the ability to control who is doing it or what they are lying about, and you transfer power from yourself to your subordinates.  At this point you are at their mercy and subject to whatever they choose to say . . . or not say.

I think some politicians rationalize lying to try and buy time for their policies to work.   They sincerely believe that given enough time, their policies will be effective, but that the news cycle won’t give them the necessary breathing room and time to work.

There actually may be some truth to this.

Evaluating all the impacts of a major policy change takes time and can often be very complicated with many ramifications to consider.  The messaging required to support complex changes does not lend itself well to a campaign bumper sticker or 5 second TV commercial.  Unfortunately too many of us that vote get our opinions about candidates and their polices from these sources,  or if we don’t know who to vote for we simply pick the letter we feel most comfortable with (D or R) and call it a day when we reach the ballot box.

Politicians and their campaign advisors understand this mentality.  They build their campaigns around assuming a certain number of voters will pick their candidates in a given area based on the letter next to their name.  They then focus on emotional advertising to inspire their often strategically chosen Lettered folks to the polls, and to sway any of the Unlettered folks (Independents and Undecideds) in the middle.

Sadly, I don’t think this comes as a surprise to any of my readers.

We accept this as “just the way it is.”

As long as we place a high value on simply voting, and no value on informed voting, we should expect our politicians to lie to us.  It would be easy to blame our pols and their polls as the root of the political corruption in our society.  We could go on about our business, free from any responsibility or guilt, smugly content with our moral purity, and promptly proceed to ignore how our laziness towards our civic duties has contributed to this environment in which the least honest and most attractively marketed politicians thrive.

I would like you to try an experiment the next time you go to the polls.  Rather than simply voting for someone with a letter you like, or against a letter you don’t like, don’t vote at all if you don’t know anything about any of the candidates.  Try to inform yourself on what folks actually stand for, what their histories have been, and how you feel they will represent you.  Get a little more involved in the process.  I often hear complaints about how low our voter turn-out is in this country.  Maybe when that occurs that’s actually a good thing?  Maybe those are the folks that have taken the time to get informed and feel motivated to participate in the process without hand-holding or special prompting?

Many campaigns believe all they have to do is “mobilize their base” and they will win without any substantive policy commitments, without having to answer any question about their records, and without having to demonstrate any knowledge of the office they intend to hold.  I see Democrats and Republicans both engaging in these types of campaigns, by throwing around “red meat” issues and taking uncompromising but also impossible stands on various issues to spur their core voters to show up at the polls.  What gets lost in all that noise is any substantive policy debate or campaign promises that can be kept or that are good for all the people.  What also seems to be lost is that politicians and elected officials are not supposed to just server the victors in our winner-takes-all contests that most elections have become, but all the people.

Just because people did not vote for you, that does not make them your enemies.

But it certainly feels that way though, doesn’t it?

Is it any wonder the public is so dissatisfied with Congress in general, or politicians as a whole?  Winners make promises they can’t hope to keep to get elected, and they if they somehow manage to make good on their promises they often further alienate half the population.  Rather than working for the country to make it better, Democrats and Republicans, Reds and Blues, Donkeys and Elephants, Conservatives and Liberals, have become rival teams in an unending power struggle and contest that no one ever really wins, a game with infinite overtimes.  To me it feels like these teams pass the trophy (us) back and forth.  We are just a means to an end to them and once they get what they need from us every 2, 4 or 6 years they return to their old habits and the old game where winning is more important than what is being won, or who is hurt in the process.

I recently realized this is a bigger problem than faux education reform, but directly related.  Politics in the United States has become a two person game that never ends.  All of us are players whether we want to be or not.  Multinational Corporations, Education Reformers and Bankers realized this a long time ago (which is why these are also often the same players.)  To ensure they are always winners they give to both sides so that no matter who wins an election, they are the only true winners.  I don’t believe this situation is healthy or can possibly end well.  More and more our “two” political parties have actually come to agree on more than they disagree when it comes to setting national policy.  This has resulted in enormous budget deficits and debts (both sides like to spend more than they take in revenue.)  Both sides enjoyed watching the economic expansion fueled by subprime mortgages, and blame each other for the collapse.  (Incidentally they were both right.)  Both sides have wastefully employed our US military as a police force for the world while allowing our healthcare systems for veterans the veterans of these conflicts to decay.  Both sides have given the banking sector a get out of jail and/or bankruptcy free cards.  Bankers have not been punished for defrauding the US and the world of trillions of dollars, but both sides have fueled a prison system and militarized police forces that would be the envy of totalitarian states like China and Iran and which incarcerates victimless offenders for life for minor drug offences.

For this reason I have decided I cannot run for elective office as a Democrat or Republican.  However, for the first time in my life I have registered for a political party – which generally goes against my principles of trying to remain impartial and my general distrust of political parties.

  • I made an exception because even though I told people I was running as an Independent or No Party candidate, many folks thought I was (or accused me of being) an Occupy Democrat or a Tea-Party Republican.
  • I made an exception because I wanted a chance to define myself, rather than let other people define me.
  • I made an exception because I think the Libertarian ideals of limited local government and government interference are important, less corruptible and more efficient and in line with what most people believe in but have not been able to find.
  • I made an exception because I don’t want to tell people what to do and I don’t want to appear biased to one side or the other.
  • I made and exception because I want to be seen as someone who really want to provide accurate information that people can use to form their own judgments.
  • But mostly, I made this decision because I believe someone has to.

Democrats and Republicans are not my enemy, any more than they should be the enemies of each other.  We are all countrymen, all Americans, and we all want the best for ourselves, our children and our country.  However without breathing room between elections, without honest oversight from mainstream media – which is often owned by corporations wishing to influence public opinion one way or the other – I feel we desperately lack impartial oversight.

At a time when most laws by our elected and appointed judges are now decided along partisan lines, and when the public expects this, I know that we have taken partisanship too far.  Justice is no longer blind, but it has been lamed and corrupted.  When we expect our judges to vote for things based on who appointed them (or what letter is next to their name) rather than what the law says, don’t you think we enable and encourage this mockery of Democracy and justice to continue?

I think I get along pretty well with both Tea-Party groups and Occupy Wall Street groups.  These movements are part of a growing dissatisfaction with the current dysfunctional and animus infused status quo.  If you identify with one of these groups, there may be a reason you feel like tolerated outsiders in the Republican and Democrat parties but get along with me.

Maybe your ideas are too complex for the two generally accepted checkboxes?

Maybe it’s time you took your political business elsewhere?

I’m not saying you need to become a Libertarian like I have, but it might be a good place to start looking. I think you owe yourself, your children, and your country at least that much.  It’s your choice if you want to continue choosing between 2 bad choices.

Thanks for listening,

Jason

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Have you ever felt alone while completely surrounded by people?

Have you ever felt alone while completely surrounded by people?

I have.

I feel this way all the time actually. Most recently I’ve felt very lost and alone while at the same time surrounding myself more and more, with more and more people.  I’ve enjoyed being invited to speak to people at various conventions, award ceremonies, campaign events, rallies and webcasts, and I love [almost] all of you, but I forgot that I’m actually an introvert at heart.

I like people and like being around them, but I find it exhausting and I need some alone time to recharge my batteries and think.  Fortunately my wife took the kids to Natchitoches this weekend to visit with family and to see their Christmas festival and fireworks so I got some much needed respite from anyone but my cat and dog and some home projects I’ve been neglecting for far too long.

My house was a wreck, and still is to some extent, but isn’t it always so liberating when you finally resolve to do something and make some actual progress?

I ripped up some old dusty carpets in my son’s room and left it a barren wasteland of stacked furniture and broken Legos, but I feel a whole lot better about it.  It’s now a clean slate to write upon with future flooring possibilities.  I also tossed a lot of old junk I’d been keeping around for lord knows what.

I’m kind of a packrat.  I hate to throw anything out that might be conceivable useful in some absurd doomsday scenario in my head. . . what if all the nails are gone from all the hardware stores all at once and I am faced with an assorted size nail emergency?

What if I find someone who just needs the trays from the burned up food dehydrator and they have to dehydrate food right away for an imminent health food convention!?!?  They will be so thankful that I saved ours under that computer desk all these years!

Sure the kids broken the slide off their swing set, but if I decide to build a new swing set I might be able to add an extra slide to it, or maybe I can just set it up as a designated Hot Wheels stunt ramp for my son. . .

You get the picture.  It wasn’t a pretty one, and my neighbors now have to wait until Thursday for all that well intentioned rubbish to be removed.

After I cleaned out the house I found that my mind was a little cleaner too.  There was so much accumulation (in my mind and my house) it was hard too know what to do first.  I had to alter my perceptions a bit to suppress my desire to hang onto everything.  Instead of worrying so much about the future, I had to focus on the here and now – the present.

I’ve been feeling more and more like that’s how my writing has become lately; a bunch of well-intentioned rubbish I’ve been writing for other people and not for myself.  I’ve been squirreling away hundreds of leads on dozens of stories, but so many that I was having trouble keeping track of them all.  I’ve been having trouble finding the time to write about everything that needs writing.  My inability to select a single topic has reduced me to writing about nothing.

I partly blame this on myself and my decision to enter politics. When I originally wrote my pieces for my blog I was writing whatever I wanted, what I felt needed to be written, and I was not worrying about whom I offended.  Now that I participate in so many Facebook groups and discussions I find it harder to keep track of everyone’s alliances, contributions, accomplishments, or positions they refuse to compromise on.  I worry more and more if what I will say or write will be taken out of context and maligned by others who may have their own agendas, and sometimes these are my allies.  I’m used to enemies doing this, but things get a lot more complicated when folks you think are on your side start to question you and your motivations.

So this weekend I was able to re-center myself.  I was allowing myself to be too influenced by worrying about the opinions of others, or what I perceived those opinions to be.  I was not writing for myself and my creativity and inspiration suffered as a result.  I also believe this compromised my mission. I didn’t realize that until I reassessed what my mission was.

My mission is to get to the truth and reveal it so others can make informed decisions..  Getting to the truth needs to be my guiding principle going forward, regardless of who claims to own that truth or whom it empowers or whom it diminishes in the short term.

When you rationalize the shading of information, the withholding of information, or outright lies you embark on a slippery slope.  It’s easy to become accidentally corrupted when trying to use the argument that the means justifies the ends.  I would argue that it’s inevitable.

I think that is probably the primary problem with our political system today.  We have Democrats and Republicans, for the most part both sides are well intentioned, but both sides are demonizing the other and lying about themselves about their own success, records, and motivations in the pursuit of power.  I think both sides sincerely believe this will be for the betterment of their fellow countrymen and country, but I think they’ve lost track of the truth in the process.  Without truth, without honest measurements and feedback, how can anyone be sure which way we are going, or if it’s the right way?

When pilots fly into a fog, as John F Kennedy Jr. did on his way to Martha’s Vineyard in 1999, they have to rely on their navigational instruments to know which way they are going. When those instruments don’t work or the pilots fail to understand how to read them, even if they know which way they started out, they have no way of knowing when they get there, or if some factor buffeted them off course.  Pilots even have to rely on their instruments telling them which way is up and down.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the plane had crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off Martha’s Vineyard, the probable cause being pilot error: “Kennedy’s failure to maintain control of the airplane during a descent over water at night, which was a result of spatial disorientation. Kennedy was not qualified to fly a plane by “instruments only.” The crash occurred in conditions not legally requiring such qualification. Other pilots flying similar routes reported no visual horizon due to haze.[

I want my political leaders to keep this in mind as I have resolved to do.  The journey is just as important as the destination.  You can’t reach your destination if you don’t know which way you are going. If you don’t have access to truthful information, you fully understand, you might crash when you get there, just as John F Kennedy Jr. did on July 16th, 1999.  But when you are a political leader, you’re not just crashing a plane by yourself, you may be bringing along your wife, your sister and all your constituents and their families too.

Jindal scrutinizes micro-contracts

I’ll be honest.  When i piggybacked ( http://wp.me/p2iZLF-Kp )on Mercedes  Schneider’s post about John White seeking to stealthily contract out PARCC like questions on the sly last week, (and recommended someone notify the Jindal administration I didn’t really think that anyone would do it, and if they did I didn’t think it would amount to much.) 

Then i saw this article:

http://www.wbrz.com/news/jindal-administration-questioning-education-contracts/

This situation bares watching.  This could get interesting.  Jindal is now public about knowing about this, and John White is running out of time to build or buy some tests for the Spring.

You guess is as good as mine as to how this will turn out.  Get some popcorn though, this cluster might be fun to watch pop.

Nice tip, sources who will remain anonymous.  🙂

Dear ASD, Its not the tone that’s the problem

Great blog post by one of my favorite up and coming education bloggers from Tennessee discussing their version of our RSD (Recovery School District).

Of course their problems sound identical to our own: education reform tourists berating us for not looking out for “the children” manipulating data and hiding from it when confronted.

Success in Recovery Districts is all about lies, spin, blaming others and keeping the public in the dark for as long as possible and waiting until any negative stories blow over when they inevitably occur.

Dad Gone Wild

1111Chris Barbic of the Tennessee Achievement District has been out making the interview rounds of late. One of his primary themes has been the tone surrounding the conversation on education. He’s been lamenting how people have lost sight of the kids and that they are the only ones that matter. He’s really bummed that people say awful things about reformers and himself. Of course, there is not a single mention of the role the tourists, as I’ve taken to calling reformers, play in this conversation. Its the classic everybody but I set the tone argument.

In a recent blog post Peter Greene is brilliant in labeling the reform movement as tourists. (http://curmudgucation.blogspot.com/2014/12/homeostasis-tourists-stability-and-feds.html?spref=tw) Just like tourists they go into an area and impose their agenda and views on the natives and then get indignant when the natives snap back. Think about how the French react to American tourists. Where do you think the…

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Unmasking the Charter Chicanery in Louisiana

Unmasking the Charter Chicanery in Louisiana

masks

Recently I was contacted by The Progressive to write an overview of charter schools in Louisiana.  I have been watching this “experiment” unfold from a fairly unique perspective.  My first look was as a State of Louisiana Employee just after charter schools were becoming established haphazardly around the state.  When I started at LDOE I was told of some of the misdeeds of previous operators, and I struggled alongside some of them to get their data reported accurately and in a timely manner.  Our initial operators were mostly standalone outfits and not altogether bad and some with the best of intentions if not the best business sense or relevant experience.  For the most part these early operators were homegrown and unconnected to external forces and influences and my bosses had no strong feelings about them either way.

As my tenure at the department lengthened, and new Education Reformer obsessed State Superintendents came to the fore like Paul Pastorek and John White, charters schools took on a new, more sinister dimension and set of goals.  I finally left the Department in February of 2012 to start my blog.  My naïve plan at the time was to reveal some of the misdeeds and to try and reverse the tide of all the negative trends and policies being enacted by out of state interests and pirogue-loads of out of state money.

What follows is the intro of my original piece I submitted.  My full piece was close to 5000 words and not entirely complete and my allotted space was maxxed at 2000 words.  I worked with the editors at The Progressive to streamline my piece, but I will be publishing parts of my original work in various future blog posts – so my time and research was not wasted.  I enjoyed the opportunity to work with some national media sources and I hope you find the pieces I will write now and in the immediate future informative and useful.  I start off with a brief into on the charter movement as we see it today.

Albert Shanker, a former President of the American Federation of Teachers Union (1974 – 1997) is sometimes credited with founding the modern charter movement in 1988.  His idea was to create an environment focused on serving the neediest students. The basic premise was for charters to work collaboratively with school districts and their most challenging students.  Ideas that proved the most fruitful would be shared and applied throughout the public systems to make them stronger and more responsive.  As originally conceived, Charter schools were to be R&D laboratories, and their research would be used for the benefit of all public school students.

In 1991 Joe Nathan and Ted Kolderie, education reformers from Minnesota, altered Shanker’s idea to one that would appeal to entrepreneurs, and squeeze out educators.

Nathan and Kolderie instead proposed that schools be authorized by statewide agencies that were separate and apart from local district control. That opened charter doors not only to teachers but also to outside entrepreneurs. Competition between charters and districts was to be encouraged.

By 1993 Shanker realized some significant flaws in his ideas and renounced support of his own idea, but by then it was too late.  Private industry and education reformers had spotted an opening, a new market, and would spend the next two decades ramping up resources and propagating propaganda to exploit it.

These resources would go to fund pro-privatization with an eye toward profit margins rather than children:

  • Candidates like Bobby Jindal, Barack Obama, Dannel Malloy and Scott Walker
  • Agendas like American Legislative Executive Council (ALEC) and Democrats For Education Reform (DFER)
  • Organizations like Teach For America (TFA), Stand For Children (Stand) and the Black Alliance For Educational Options (BAEO)
  • Charter Sponsored Media and Movies like NBCs Education Nation, Waiting for Superman, and Won’t Back Down

These groups cover vast swaths of the political spectrum and use a cunning and effective combination of statistical sleight-of-hand, repetitive messaging and empathic emotional pleas to lure people to their banners and crusade.  To the casual observer, which most folks are, these forces offer beacons of hope; hope to the messages of despair they themselves seeded beforehand.  Their messages are wrapped up in pleasingly packaged message so many of us find so compelling and alluring:

Free enterprise and American spirit and ingenuity will come to the rescue of our “failing schools” and flagging nation! 

Research institutions like the Cowen Institute at Tulane and CREDO (a conservative Hoover offshoot based on Stanford’s campus lend it a liberal air) were funded or founded with the express purpose of promoting charter schools.  Publicity campaigns were rolled out to advertise the higher standards and quality of charter schools.  Charter schools were initially advertised as having better academics (although usually with fewer certified teachers and less experienced teachers) and being less expensive (usually they are much more expensive when factoring costs to communities and grants).  Charter schools were marketed in much the same way as margarine, Vioxx, and cigarettes.   As is so often the case with miracle products, as the data is eventually analyzed objectively, and the full ramifications understood the tragic flaws are revealed.

Research now shows that charter schools are most often no better than public schools with the same demographics, and sometimes they are much, much worse.  Rather than admit defeat, pull their products, or actually try to make them live up their previous advertising the campaign was switched to one of “Choice”.

Amazingly, I was just informed today that even the head of the CREDO institute has grudgingly come to this conclusion on her own.

Her reasons for why states need to exert more control raised a few eyebrows. A self-described supporter of free markets, Raymond said a totally free market is not appropriate for schools.

“It’s the only industry/sector where the market doesn’t work,” Raymond said.

But it’s “Choice” with capital  C!  It has to be good, right?

Who doesn’t instinctively favor “choice” and freewill in a free society? It sounds liberating.  It sounds positive. Unfortunately it’s also an illusion.  Good “choices” only exist in clever online marketing ads sent to your Facebook account (with happy children of the same race as your own as determined by Big Data Algorithms) and in the mailers stuffed in your door handles and mailboxes.

Charter schools and their advocates go out of their way to obscure data and bash public schools so parents can’t make an informed choice.  States are run and overseen by officials bought with charter money to ensure this.  You can’t make a good choice with bad data and with only bad choices available.

“Parents can’t be agents of quality assurance,” Raymond said, stressing the need for better information to be available to parents as they pick schools.

When outsiders think of Louisiana and charter schools, they often think of Katrina and New Orleans.  New Orleans is now a 100% charter operated district. Charters are a manmade disaster heaped upon a natural one.  Hurricane Katrina was the once in a 100 year natural disaster that charter school operators and their allies chose to exploit.

I worked at the Louisiana Department of Education during this time.  I would learn later that while many New Orleanians were drowning in their homes, choking on the oily toxic flood waters, expiring from exposure on their rooftops, or furiously evacuating if they had the wherewithal, operatives at the Department and from the New Orleans area and State BESE board were meticulously conspiring to remake the city’s education system to their liking.   Many people perished, and we may never have a full accounting of the deaths.  On Monday, August 29th, 2005 canals were breached across New Orleans.  Public education also died that day.  Louisiana’s loss and the Nation’s shame was to become the Charter Movement’s gain.

The words of US Education Secretary Arne Duncan about Katrina will forever live in infamy for me and many of my friends, family and people.

…let me be really honest. I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina.

If you would like to see the next part of this story check out this month’s issue in The Progressive you can purchase a digital copy to support work of folks like me or wait until later this month when it is released.

Caddo Teacher of the Year Speaks Out Against Common Core and Characterization that Most Louisiana Teachers Support it

To the editor:

I was discouraged and disheartened to read an article titled “Teachers denounce Vitter shift” in a recent publication. The implication is that all Louisiana teachers support the Common Core standards. “Several teachers” does not constitute a consensus among teachers. As 2014-15 Caddo Parish Teacher of the Year, I can assure you that many teachers do not share the sentiments of the three teachers who were quoted. Among those who dissent are many teachers deemed “highly effective” who do not fear change.

It is not true that hundreds of educators helped develop Common Core. There were only 62 writers total. On the CCSS validation committee, there were only two teachers who were both union representatives, NO early childhood educators, NO mental health professionals, and only two content specialists, Drs. Stotsky and Milgram, both of whom refused to sign off on the CCSS.

Bill Gates, who is not even a college graduate, has provided millions in funding. In 2009, he said, “We only know if this works when the curriculum and tests are aligned with the standards.”Although standards are not a curriculum, the standards do drive the curriculum. They are inseparable.

The CCSS are a federal intrusion and the “data-mining” involved is a violation of student privacy. Many of the standards are developmentally inappropriate, particularly in the lower grades. This leads to undue stress in our students and for the parents. We need high standards, but we do not need to be part of a ten-year federal experiment on our children.

Glynis Johnston

 

My Recent Piece on Charter Schools in Louisiana has been Published in the Progressive.

I was recently asked to write and submit a story to The Progressive, a national magazine with a liberal slant established in 1909 and home of the Public School Shakedown, where I am listed as a featured writer for some of my blog posts.  Charter School fraud and abuse is a concern of both Liberals and Conservatives, and I try to speak to and educate both sides whenever the opportunity arises.  I am told this magazine is read by a large number of college professors at Universities across the United States.  We could really use their help combating the lies, fraud, and abuse of charter schools and their PR firms and phoney advertising campaigns and claims of success.  I hope this piece reaches some of them.  What is happening to our K-12 systems now will be happening to our university systems next.

You can see a Table of Contents of this issue here, which includes a brief history and examples of charter schools and their dirty dealings in Louisiana. My article is called Behind the Charter School Façade. I will let you know when they post a link to this story.

The Progressive will be posting and sharing stories from the issue all month.

Here is a link to the first piece: a cartoon/video The Progressive started sharing Monday about a charter chain named Rocketship Academies that has not yet come to Louisiana but which has every intention of doing so.

For those unfamiliar with this chain, Rocketship has large teacher to student ratios, largely employs inexperienced teachers, and keeps kids in large warehouse like environments filled with colorful confining cubicles crammed with computers which they must interact with most of their days on math and ELA test preparation. Very little time is spent on history, art, science, culture or PE in Rocketship Academies.

 

This animated video by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mark Fiore looks at school privatization through the eyes of little Timmy, a kindergartener who likes his public school.

Timmy gets a confusing lesson in corporate education reform, starting with the rightwing mantra: “Public schools have failed.”

“But I like my public school,” Timmy protests.

– See more at: http://www.progressive.org/news/2010/12/187929/profitship-learning#sthash.qUWIkEMd.dpuf

 

Here the video is embedded in a web story with some explanatory text:
http://www.progressive.org/news/2010/12/187929/profitship-learning

 

In my piece I will cover charter chains we sadly already do have in Louisiana and some of their misdeeds right in our backyards. I have numerous stories not included in this issue I will be rolling out this month (I had way more information than they could possibly print in a single story.)

However, there is no need to wait until the Progressive releases this content for free! You can purchase a digital or digital + print subscription for 10 or 14 dollars a year as I have done. This will give you access to all of the latest stories and content, fresh off the presses, and will go toward supporting more great investigative reporting of charter schools and school reformers.