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

  1. I am a former middle school science and math teacher and I worked at the LDOE from 2005 to 2013. I have helped my granddaughter with her 5th grade Eureka Math homework and I was frightened by the things she was learning. I didn’t know what the heck they were teaching and why, it served no purpose in life. She doesn’t know her multiplication facts and Eureka Math apparently doesn’t teach the basic skills that are so important to building knowledge for higher level mathematics in the later years.

    It’s my understanding the LSU’s Cain Center received the contract to develop the EngageNY Math curriculum. While I have great respect for LSU’s Cain Center, I must question how any years any of those who developed this curriculum actually taught in the K-12 classroom. What is being taught to our students through this curriculum is so confusing it baffles even those with Secondary Math Certification! Add to this the fact that parents CANNOT help their children with math homework, they don’t understand the “new math.”

    If Louisiana continues to use this “curriculum” we will have a generation of children that will NEED will not know how to “DO” math. I thought this State was pushing for “work ready” students!

    1. I worked from 2003 thru 2012. My daughter had trouble with Eureka last year in first grade until they switched over to Go Math this year. We had trouble figuring out what they were asking, let alone doing any of it.

      You had a little more time at LDOE after me. Did you find your area was as corrupted by vendors then as then sound like they are now?

      1. I worked for the Louisiana Virtual School program from Feb 2006 to about May 2012. My supervisor and I were moved and then we were moved again with myself being moved to Data Management. I believe that move was in preparation to target me to be fired due to being on FMLA but instead I was in the first large group that was laid off in 2013. I chose to retire!! 2013 was when the vendor nightmare started!

        Prior to 2013, it was extremely difficult to obtain anything from a specific vendor. The paperwork you had to submit if you wanted to get anything from one specific vendor was crazy. That all changed soon after John White got his feet planted behind the desk of the LDOE Superintendent’s position.

  2. Disgusting

    But it does make me happy that there are still a few honest souls at LDOE. Wonder how many will remain once the upcoming layoffs happen.

    1. John White gets rid of the honest souls whenever he can! I too wonder who is on the “hit list” for the upcoming layoffs. I’ve heard up to 100 will be let go…there will be highly paid, inexperienced, unclassified workers left!

      1. Lots and lots of bosses, supervisors, and managers (TfA, TNTP, Broad) who don’t have a clue about what they are doing nor do they care. They have zero respect for real experienced educators and have the audacity to believe they are experienced teachers.

        The entire focus of the agency has become assessment and accountability.

    2. Very very very few. In the last year or two the regime has filled even the lower positions with naive, like minded corporate “reform” types.

      1. That’s what i figured. That’s one of the reasons I’m ok with shutting it down. It’s become a corrupt agency that only serves corporate interests. There is no fixing it at this point.

  3. You should see the great number of salesman-looking folks who are roaming the halls of the LDOE. Suits and briefcases checking in at the guard’s desk and then heading to John White’s office. If there’s no money, what are they selling and what is LDOE buying?

    1. We had to buy that “PARCC” test from someone. Louisiana is just a Ed Reform showroom for an unscrupulous salesman. White paints over the rust and replaces the windows with cellophane and takes pictures of the vehicles from a distance. As long as nobody visits or talks to parents and students the illusion sells via the internet and “news” articles copied from press releases.

    2. I saw them before I left and have heard many tales of them since. Pretty soon that’s all that will be “working” there. They might as well write and sign their own checks officially since that’s basically what they do now in secret.

  4. Jason
    I have attended these EECG professional development sessions. The presenters are young and enthusiastic. They admit that the Eureka Myth is not perfect and it must be supplemented with outside resources. The presenters claim that the free online presence of all material (including module quizzes) keeps them from offering multiple choice assessments. They use this online presence as an excuse for not offering the type of questions our students must answer to “pass” the PARCC(ish) end of year exam.
    These same presenters concede that the PARCC(ish) exams will not provide timely results that can be used to adjust instruction. They also freely admit that the cut scores have not yet been determined. This is a textbook case where the group paying for the test can determine the outcome and how the results will be applied to the population.
    John White should be placed UNDER the jail.

  5. And all we, as the other book reps in the state wanted, was an even playing field…which is not what John White wanted!

  6. I stand with Sen Hays from Florida who recently commented that he, nor anyone he knew or has spoken with in education from lower elementary to higher ed university has a positive thing to say about the DOE. Asking what “good” they have contributed everyone from teachers to administrators have said “Nothing”. They only serve to facilitate corruption, if you ask me. Where could we better place those tax dollars in education do you think?

  7. John White and friends need to go to jail for sure. I am doing my part to see that that happens. http://www.geauxteacher.net/2015/03/john-white-misrepresents-eureka-math.html

    http://www.geauxteacher.net/2014/11/john-whites-bogus-textbook-evaluations.html

    Atlanta teachers convicted on RICO charges for changing test answers while White gets away with academic murder while setting cut scores and manipulating school performance scores and directing taxpayer dollars (and federal grants) to his own liking.

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