I have been writing for years about the numerous ways John White has been lying about the “progress” his agenda has brought the state of Louisiana. White has inflated the graduate rate, inflated the matriculation rate, depressed the dropout counts, flipped the LEAP and End of Course test scores to show Louisiana students are doing better, while they are actually doing much worse, sheltered RSD and charter schools from investigations, wiped out the Special Education department and forced his employees to commit fraud to keep their jobs on a routine basis and violated federal laws and policies in regards to funding allocations, shared data illegally with third party vendors and researchers that only favor his agenda while withholding data from independent researchers (for years) costing the state many thousands of dollars in litigation fees. These are just a few of the underhanded and unethical practices John White has engaged in on a regular basis. White even has one of his former lieutenants in place on the State’s board of Elementary and Secondary Education. All of this bodes ill for John Bel if he is not able to remove John White promptly, and properly audit, recalculate and re-report the previous years’ fraudulently prepared education data.
John White has quietly amassed an enormous power base in Louisiana. He has legislators, superintendents, super Pacs, LABI (Louisiana Association of Business and Industry run by a Grigsby figurehead), APEL a pseudo teachers union run by a LABI/Grigsby promoted figurehead, The Times Picayune editorial board, The Advocate editorial board and management, Teach for America (who also has a BESE member, Kira Orange Jones that will support White unquestioningly), Stand for Children (run by a former White/LDOE staffer) ,CABL, BAEO (run by a former White/LDOE staffer), DFER (Democrats for Education Reform), and Lane Grigsby in his back pocket. That’s just to name of few of his instate supporter power players and organizations.
White also has the ability to draw down millions of dollars from out of state ed reform minded billionaires to wage war on John Bel Edwards on his behalf. Billionaires like Michael Bloomberg, Eli Broad, Jim and Alice Walton, that spent millions defaming BESE candidates across the state (for unpaid positions) in the recent elections. Unless John Bel wants to turn his entire education agenda over to these groups, he will be unendingly assailed by them throughout his term. He will probably be attacked even then because:
- LABI would like to find a way to remove him and put someone loyal to them on every issue.
- John Bel have to renege on his promises to do something about John White, Common Core, and the corruptions and malfeasance at LDOE.
The latter would alienate many of the folks I rallied to support him based on the belief JBE would have our backs.
LABI and these other groups would still angle to remove John Bel with outrageous lies and misrepresentations, like they did for so many of the BESE candidates in the last elections.
The most diabolical aspect of this is; John White could simply agree to everything John Bel asks him to do, he could cooperate in every way, and he could even release the actual data starting from day one of John Bel’s term. Unfortunately, this would prove disastrous.
John White has built an enormous and unfounded success data bubble. If this pops only during John Bel’s term in office, and the scores are not properly recalculated for previous years, it will be an easy claim to make and support, that:
- John Bel ruined education in Louisiana.
I expect White and his staff, along with Lane Grigsby and Bridgette Nieland with LABI, are working on some plan like this right now at LDOE to propose to John Bel and his leadership team.
This will be a poisoned olive branch, much like the Common Core compromise turned out to be for actual anti-Common Core BESE candidates this fall. LABI’s candidates also claimed to be against Common Core, and for Louisiana Standards. They sent out mailers proudly proclaiming their disdain for Common Core, support for high standards, and embracement of the Common Core compromise. Some BESE candidates, like the re-elected Holly Boffy, even ludicrously claimed to have led the fight against Common Core, while actually getting paid by CCSSO to support and promote it as a paid consultant.
Truth has no meaning to these people. Lane Grigsby actually met with me and told me he was tired of all the education politics and was going to be sitting out getting heavily involved this year. Instead he raised millions of dollars to launch misleading, continuous, and deceitful attack ads on his opponents while also donating and having all of his friends and family donate the maximum allowable amount to the candidates he supported. Based on the similarity of all the produced commercials and mailouts for all 9 candidates he supported it is very likely he had a hand in running both candidates actual campaigns as well as the Super Pac that also promoted them. This type of coordination is theoretically a no-no, but I have yet to hear of anyone ever sanctioned in any way for doing this.
I would recommend getting knowledgable and outspoken critics of John White and Common Core placed on the board as his appointees – from different political parties. Fortunately there are quite a few great candidates for these jobs available – still sore from the lies John White and his allies used to assail them. Motivation for counter-attacking and applying pressure to John White should not be an issue for these folks, as they already have lengthy track records in putting students, teachers and parents before corporations and firsthand experience at how these shady folks work. I would also recommend putting someone like me in charge of education policy or LDOE’s IT department, which is now a division of DOA and not beholden to John White – thanks to Jindal’s statewide IT reorganization. The governor has complete authority over DOA. Once John White is removed, most of his unclassified executive staff should be jettisoned as well. I would also recommend putting someone in charge of RSD who is not Patrick Dobard or his second in command. I have had reports that Dobard’s mission is to acquire as many schools from as many districts as quickly as possible so they can be turned over to charter operators. He has even expressed dismay when traditional public schools run by local school districts improve, because that puts a wrench in his plan to acquire them. John White’s and Patrick Dobard’s mission is to eventually take over all public schools in Louisiana and run them from a statewide agency as a charter portfolio.
Baton Rouge is actually slated to be their next target for mass charter invasion and takeover. It has been reported to me that before Edwards assumes office, on the December 2nd 2015 agenda, BESE is expected to vote to approve New Schools for Baton Rouge (run by a former LDOE executive staffer) as a type B1 charter authorizer. This means the state board will vote to completely bypass local EBR school board authority in charter decisions and hand it over to a private, unelected organization to approve as many charter schools as they want, anywhere in the city, as New Schools for New Orleans does in New Orleans. Next up will be New Schools for Lafayette, New Schools for Lake Charles, New Schools for Shreveport, and finally New Schools for Louisiana as they finally bypass local school boards entirely.
These folks never sleep. It is important to get ground game going as soon as possible, because 4 years will go by before you know it.