LDOE is So Corrupted By Vendors Like Eureka Math, Employees Have Trouble Telling Right From Wrong Anymore

I have too many small stories that need to be stitched together before I can show you the big picture.  I could write a single gigantic post of everything I’ve been learning over the last few months, but no one would read it I fear.  The problem is, I want to write a few concise summary pieces, but I also want to provide the backup documents to support what I’m saying.  This is the first of a number of small disclosures that I will stitch together in later pieces.

Many folks don’t understand or realize that LDOE has been taken over by outside interests.  Everything from curriculum choice, to policies, to tests, training sites and employees are influenced by vendors and organizations seeking to use Louisiana and our children as test tube for their agenda.  Here’s a description of what it’s like to work at LDOE now:

Oh, and I’m so jaded I don’t know what’s a big deal anymore, esp. since corporate media show little interest in bad government, and the few stories that make it don’t stick for long, but this big Teacher leader conference in June currently has over 50–a majority–of sessions provided by vendors incl. of course Eureka math. strikes me as interesting that the taxpayers are paying a fortune to get several thousand teachers and admins to a conference that the vendors aren’t paying for but get to heavily push their products and agenda. So far roughly half are actually to be conducted by public ed staff-dept of ed, teachers etc.

One of the vendors I will focus on for this piece is Eureka Math.  Many outsiders were perplexed by LDOE’s decision to select Eureka Math as the only Tier One math product for Louisiana.  (Louisiana is not known for being a leader in education so it’s not surprising no one else has chosen Eureka as something special except a study paid for by the Gates foundation.)  It turns out that LDOE made a deal last year to do this in return for free professional development and other unknown  perks and promises.  Eureka Math is being heavily promoted again this year on the state’s dime.  It goes by many names.  Sometimes Eureka Math is referred to as EngageNY.  It was sometimes referred to as just Common Core, after the website it created for itself.  To make things even more confusing it has recently changed its name again, to Great Minds.

This change happened on January 8th, 2105

Common Core, Inc. changes its name to Great Minds.

January 8, 2015

On January 8th, 2015, Common Core, Inc. changed its name to Great Minds.

Magically – Great Minds/Eureka/EngageNY/Common Core managed to go back in time and rewrite their press releases and news articles to say things that are impossible.

Louisiana State Superintendent of Education recommends Common Core Math Curriculum

WASHINGTON, DC (June 24, 2013) — The State of Louisiana and its Office of the State Superintendent of Education recently announced that the P-12 mathematics curriculum developed by the nonprofit Great Minds is a recommended resource for Louisiana math teachers. The state praised the curriculum for its rigor and alignment with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

The CCSS-based math curriculum was developed by Great Minds, a Washington, D.C. based organization that creates curriculum tools and promotes programs, policies, and initiatives at the local, state, and federal levels. Great Minds developed the math curriculum in partnership with the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

“Great Minds is proud to provide Louisiana educators with a curriculum that supports their efforts to implement the CCSS,” said Lynne Munson, Great Minds president and executive director. “It is imperative that educators are given the curriculum and tools necessary to get every student college and career ready. Great Minds’s educator-developed curriculum helps offer teachers the instructional paths they need for success.”

Last week, Louisiana’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education announced new math curriculum guidance for all of the state’s public schools. The guidance recommended the Great Minds-developed math curriculum to guide unit and lesson instruction, noting “These materials are rigorous, include formative assessments and are aligned to Great Minds [State Standards]. All materials are free and available for students as well. Teachers can pull and then adjust sets of lessons to fit the bundling in Louisiana’s year-long scope and sequence.”

This is probably the 5th rewrite of this press release.   It looks like they even replaced “Common Core” with “Great Minds” State Standards.  What’s even more cool is they rewrote a press release quote from the state of Louisiana to align with their new name.  Compare the highlighted section from 2014 above, with the nearly identical press release from 2013 below.

Louisiana State Superintendent of Education recommends the Common Core, Inc. Math Curriculum

June 24, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC (June 24, 2013) — The State of Louisiana and its Office of the State Superintendent of Education recently announced that the P-12 mathematics curriculum developed by the nonprofit Common Core, Inc. is a recommended resource for Louisiana math teachers. The state praised the curriculum for its rigor and alignment with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

The CCSS-based math curriculum was developed by Common Core, Inc., a Washington, D.C. based organization that creates curriculum tools and promotes programs, policies, and initiatives at the local, state, and federal levels. Common Core, Inc. developed the math curriculum in partnership with the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

“Common Core, Inc. is proud to provide Louisiana educators with a curriculum that supports their efforts to implement the CCSS,” said Lynne Munson, Common Core, Inc. president and executive director. “It is imperative that educators are given the curriculum and tools necessary to get every student college and career ready. Common Core, Inc.’s educator-developed curriculum helps offer teachers the instructional paths they need for success.”

Last week, Louisiana’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education announced new math curriculum guidance for all of the state’s public schools. The guidance recommended the Common Core, Inc.-developed math curriculum to guide unit and lesson instruction, noting “These materials are rigorous, include formative assessments and are aligned to Common Core [State Standards]. All materials are free and available for students as well. Teachers can pull and then adjust sets of lessons to fit the bundling in Louisiana’s year-long scope and sequence.”

The formal announcement from the Office of the State Superintendent did not approve any specific textbooks because “none were sufficiently aligned to the Common Core State Standards.”

Common Core, Inc. has been working with master teachers and math scholars for more than two years to craft a comprehensive pre-kindergarten through 12th grade mathematics curriculum. The design for the curriculum is based on work pioneered by Louisiana State University mathematician Scott Baldridge, who holds that mathematics is most effectively taught as a logical, engaging story.

Common Core, Inc.’s mathematics curriculum is available at Common Core, Inc.’s website (commoncore.org) and at NYSED’s website (engageny.org). Additionally, the Common Core, Inc. mathematics curriculum will be available in a print version for teachers and school districts through publisher Jossey-Bass starting in August 2013.

Eureka/EngageNY/CommonCore/Great Minds (which I shall now call EECG to keep track of all their names) is just as careless and sloppy with their press releases and subterfuge as they are will their actual worksheets and materials.  This behavior is typical of the Common Core initiative.  Key participants provide misleading information, and back up their claims with Gate’s sponsored biased research.  They then rely on newspaper articles and opinion columns requested by local Chamber’s of Commerce or in return for Gates foundation “donations” and endowments.

In the EECG case, these entities are all related, but much of the press around their products, except from Louisiana, has been bad.  Rather than try and improve their products they simply keep changing their name. . . just about every year.  They are trying to outrun the bad news while dragging along the positive and smacking their new label on old news. They want it both ways, all of the good (which there is amusingly very little of) and none of the bad.

It’s not a coincidence that Louisiana is the only state to select EECG as the only tier one math curriculum product from among all the states.  LDOE, John White and EECG have a financial relationship and part of that relationship involves Louisiana pushing EECG to all the parishes in the state.  These are the ways LDOE has promoted and coerced EECG adoption:

  • Providing professional development to districts only if they adopt EECG.
  • Holding Conferences in New Orleans centered around EECG
  • Privately threatening parishes with sanctions if they choose another curriculum
  • Promoting EECG in numerous Press Releases
  • Promoting EECG in News Letters
  • Promoting EECG and links to EECG products on their official (LouisianaBelieves) department website
  • Sending LDOE teacher leaders and LDOE department staff to local school board meetings to promote and defend EECG.

John White has turned the Louisiana Department of Education into little more than the shill in a Home Shopping Network ad that is amazed and impressed by every claim made by the hawker.  Is this being done for some future promised benefit to John White and his staff?  John White has no roots here and can’t stay here forever.  After the Governor and BESE elections this fall John White and much of his staff may find themselves out of jobs. . .in Louisiana.  With all the vendor deals and relationships White and his staff strike, while on our dime, they will have plenty of places to go. . . and we will be left holding whatever EECG names itself in the future, while they reap the rewards of their cozy vendor relationships.

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