Arne Duncan (after hanging out with the Mayor of Toronto smoking from a mysterious pipe)
Unless you live under rock, if you follow education issues at all you no doubt heard this latest pearl of wisdom from the head of the US Department of Education.
“It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary,” Duncan said, according to an account from Politico. “You’ve bet your house and where you live and everything on, `My child’s going to be prepared.’ That can be a punch in the gut.”
My first thought when I heard this was that Arne Duncan was trying to make sure the US Department of Education gets eliminated. I certainly expect this comment, combined with his other policies and epic overreach into local matters, will land eliminating the US department of Education front and center in the 2016 Presidential election.
In response to this a petition was launched on the Official White House website to call for Duncan’s removal: “This clearly demonstrates the complete lack of understanding he has and his utter contempt for the American people. He is both unqualified and unfit to lead the Department of Education and should be removed immediately.”
A group Facebook group called MAD, or Mother’s Against Duncan, also immediately formed. As of 11/19/13 at 10:30, a little more than 24 hours after the comments this site had over 3000 members . . . and growing.
When I had a little time to contemplate what Duncan said a few things occurred to me. He really, honestly thinks this is all about test scores. In his twisted world, kids and parents don’t exist as consierations, and learning is little more than a number of trend-line on a chart. The only learning and education that matters to him is one that can be measured, and he actually thinks everyone else thinks this way too. He has surrounded himself with people that think this, and insulated himself form the public, from parents, children and from learning. He can’t even comprehend that anyone might not give a damn about his ridiculous tests (that really do a better job identifying poor or mentally disabled students than they do “good” or “bad” schools or teachers.)
Perhaps it is time to show them how little we think about their tests and that our chief concern is not whether some highly paid educrat awards my school an “A” or “B” (while 40% of the students may be performing below grade level), but whether my child is learning and enjoying his school experience. I’m not sure about you, but my chief concern for my first grader and preschooler is not whether they score well enough on a color naming or counting test to get into a good ivy league school or rewarding career as a proctologist. I’m more concerned if my daughter’s friends like her or bully her, that she is safe and healthy, that she behaves well for her teacher and shows a good example for other kids, enjoys her recess and some fresh air, and has fun learning and growing not just math and reading (which she loves) but art, science, history and foreign languages. I want her education to be one of a wealth of opportunities and joy without the pressure of a career peering over her shoulder and monkeying around on her back. There will be time enough for that in second grade and the rest of her life, I’m sure.
The second thing that occurred to me is that this truly shows just how much Duncan has pushed and owned Common Core. Despite what your local school board or legislature has told you about how the federal government has little to do with Common Core, we have this racist, arrogant and dismissive comment from Duncan that reveals the truth. Let there be no mistake. Duncan was THE driving force behind Common Core. Gates put up hundreds of millions of dollars to promote it, but Arne Duncan put up billions, and he’ll be damned if you white suburban moms think you can derail his master plan with your pitiful concerns about your children and their learning.
What he really meant to say was “No stupid ditzy stay-at-home soccer moms (regardless of their color or nationality) are going to derail one of my signature education masterpieces, Common Core. I spent billions dollars on this shiznat, and had to listen to Bill Gates tell me 100s of stories about how he cured malaria in Africa and how he should have destroyed Apple when he had the chance to get his support so it wouldn’t look like the federal government was illegally pushing a national curriculum. Melinda wouldn’t stop showing me that stupid paperclip assistant “Clippy” she invented. They even have bedspreads with that guy on it! I even had to change the meaning of the fricken word curriculum and get everyone to call these standards! Let’s see you change the meaning of word and break federal laws . . . stupid moms, of many races, creeds, colors and religions whom I despise and hold contempt for equally!”
Thank you for clearing that up for us, Arne.
I’m sure you will enjoy the private sector (working for your true masters Rupert Murdoch or Bill Gates) much more anyways.
At the turn of the last Century, Upton Sinclair wrote a novel that horrified the nation with its depiction of the meat packing industry. As part of his research for this novel, The Jungle, Sinclair spent over 6 months working in the industry and documenting their practices. His intent was to reveal how immigrants were treated but what captured the attention of the nation was his matter-of-fact recounting of pigs hoisted into the air by their feet as their throats we slit to spew their lifeblood in assembly line efficiency, tales of employees falling into the rendering vats, dying and not being retrieved, and shovels full meat scraps, rats and feces being methodically swept and shoveled into meat hoppers storing meat scraps to be made into sausages.
There was never the least attention paid to what was cut up for sausage; there would come all the way back from Europe old sausage that had been rejected, and that was moldy and white–it would be dosed with borax and glycerine, and dumped into the hoppers, and made over again for home consumption. There would be meat that had tumbled out on the floor, in the dirt and sawdust, where the workers had tramped and spit uncounted billions of consumption germs. There would be meat stored in great piles in rooms; and the water from leaky roofs would drip over it, and thousands of rats would race about on it. It was too dark in these storage places to see well, but a man could run his hand over these piles of meat and sweep off handfuls of the dried dung of rats. These rats were nuisances, and the packers would put poisoned bread out for them; they would die, and then rats, bread, and meat would go into the hoppers together. This is no fairy story and no joke; the meat would be shoveled into carts, and the man who did the shoveling would not trouble to lift out a rat even when he saw one– there were things that went into the sausage in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit. There was no place for the men to wash their hands before they ate their dinner, and so they made a practice of washing them in the water that was to be ladled into the sausage. There were the butt-ends of smoked meat, and the scraps of corned beef, and all the odds and ends of the waste of the plants, that would be dumped into old barrels in the cellar and left there. Under the system of rigid economy which the packers enforced, there were some jobs that it only paid to do once in a long time, and among these was the cleaning out of the waste barrels. Every spring they did it; and in the barrels would be dirt and rust and old nails and stale water–and cartload after cartload of it would be taken up and dumped into the hoppers with fresh meat, and sent out to the public’s breakfast. Some of it they would make into “smoked” sausage–but as the smoking took time, and was therefore expensive, they would call upon their chemistry department, and preserve it with borax and color it with gelatine to make it brown. All of their sausage came out of the same bowl, but when they came to wrap it they would stamp some of it “special,” and for this they would charge two cents more a pound. (from Chapter 14 of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair)
The phase, “Everything but the squeal” was documented in Sinclair’s work as a prominent and prideful boast of meat processors – testament to their ability to extract every last bit of value from the farm animals they had groomed to exploit and process and a favorite claim of one of the chief pioneers of assembly line animal disassembly Gustavus Franklin Swift. Of course as you can see below, not much has changed today for the animals (this is one of the least horrifying pictures of slaughterhouse processing I could find), although conditions for workers improved over the next decades with the creation and ascendency of trade and labor unions in the early 20th century and sanitation was improved with the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act (which paved the way for the creation of today’s FDA) in large part due to the success and outrage over Sinclair’s signature debuting muckraker novel.
Nevertheless, the claim was both impressive and valid. Some of the products produced in addition to meats and sausages were oleomargarine, soap, glue, instrument strings, fertilizer, hairbrushes, buttons, knife handles, and pharmaceutical preparations such as pepsin and insulin. Low-grade meats were canned in products like pork and beans.
This was capitalism performing at its finest, employing thousands of workers methodically slaughtering and sorting animals and animal pieces and by-products to support millions of people. While even today most of us would turn away and be disgusted by the practices of slaughterhouses, nevertheless the basic model invented at the turn of the 19th century is still employed today in the 21st century. These methods are used to supply billions of people with food and byproducts for countless industries. As a society and people we have come to accept that there are basic differences between the rights of animals, and products, and the rights of people. (Although before labor unions the rights of immigrants and generationally poor people were sometimes indistinguishable from the rights, or lack thereof, we afforded animals.)
Today we are much more civilized. We treat our immigrants that we depend upon for harvesting and producing our food supply well, seldom eating them if they fall into vats of rendering solutions and we almost always retrieve them from the fields if they expire while picking our fruits and vegetables for less than minimum wage. If we had immigrant labor unions, immigrants would have to be paid living wages, sanitary work conditions, time-wasting perks like work breaks and lunches, and they would probably face competition from American born workers who might be inspired to pick up a shovel instead of a welfare check. Obviously the marginalization and elimination of labor unions has been a boon for our illegal immigrants as well as our stomachs.
When capitalism is unshackled, everyone wins. That is why some of our most brilliant and moneyed minds of the 21st century have shrewdly focused in on the opportunities, efficiencies and profits to be made in the education sector.
The public education sector is quaint, but antiquated. For centuries Americans have resisted the impulse to turn schools into production facilities, and to treat children as valuable resources that can be turned into products and traded like commodities. At least 19th Century Americans had an excuse, child labor and prostitution allowed them to extract something of value from children. As so called “civilized” societies passed laws that prevented child slavery a great deal of wealth was left untapped and children became valued as something other than resources. As a result the birth rate in our country dropped off precipitously, as children became resource hogs, rather than resources in their own rights.
Today’s school reformers and entrepreneurs have wisely recognized the nascent value we’ve overlooked for so long – but no longer. Today’s students are both more challenging but potentially rewarding that any we’ve had before. The key is in perfecting and refining the value extraction process. There may be more than one way to skin a cat (although I’m not sure why you’d want to) but there are virtually infinite ways to make money off of children and the public education system. I can’t hope to cover them all in a single piece, but I have jotted down a few.
One of the latest profit extracting innovations is the charter school. (Frankly you have to be pretty incompetent not to make money off of children with a charter school.) Charter schools get their facilities for free, (usually rent free while the home district is still making payments on the bonds issued to build them), insurance free, and with plenty of grant money to fix them up into tip top shape (or pocket if they find the shape they are in is tip top enough for their liking.) Numerous private donors line up to give “grants” and donations to new charter schools. In turn, many of these charter schools are free to contract with their “donors” for professional services paid for by state or federal funds that cannot go directly to a charter. While some may see this as a kickback, these arrangements are perfectly legal in most cases so long as there is no documented quid pro quo. And even if they aren’t, who would be able to look at that kind of thing? Charter schools can partner with IT shops and vendors, or form their own subsidiary companies to take advantage of the millions of dollars in e-rate technology grants and special purpose department of Ed grants. It’s no coincidence that many of the biggest donors to the charter movement are IT companies or heads like Michael and Susan Dell and Bill Gates. (Can you say captive hardware and software clients and increased market share?)
The last time I checked the largest company in terms of market capitalization was Google. Google makes its money by collecting data on everyone, by sending robot cars up and down everyone’s streets endlessly taking pictures and selling and aggregating that data and targeted advertising. What Google gathers over the internet is information that is freely provided by people. It may or may not be complete, but there is no guarantee it is honest, complete and unflattering. Yet, with what they have, they still have been able to produce a very profitable empire! However, what the next generation of information aggregators hopes to gather is so much more impressive. They intend to gather everything about everyone who has ever attended any public school. (Eventually private schools will be enticed to do the same in exchange for free software or hardware perhaps.) This will reach back decades and will eventually include everything from phone numbers, pictures, parents names and addresses, discipline records, health and disability records, performance metrics, subjects taken and every interest or altercation ever recorded. Companies like inBloom, Ed-Fi, Amplify, Wireless Generation, and countless others are lining up at the trough to gorge themselves on student data that can be used to personally enrich themselves by creating new products, much as the airline industry charges ala-cart fees for everything from not sitting next to crying babies, to boarding a few minutes earlier, to picking up your luggage at your destination, sitting with your family or sitting on the wings or in the cargo holds. (Those last two are under discussion.)
But this is just the beginning. Shrewd reformers are only just beginning to tap into the full profit potential of children. A cottage industry of curriculum and test administration has sprung up called Common Core, or CCSS that dramatically expands the data points collected, charges states exorbitant amounts of money to test all children (as much as 4 times as much for a single administration), and opens up an unlimited market for instructional materials, supplemental guides, tutoring services, learning “games”, etc. While most of the biggest information players like Rupert Murdoch, Michael Bloomberg, Michael Dell, Bill Gates, and Pearson Education, are already positioned to reap the most rewards and profits, there will be numerous opportunities for information prospectors to pan for education dollars from the scraps they leave behind or let fall from the table (after their grinding.)
Now politicians can enjoy school too. With the privatization of what was formally the public sector, anyone can be a political hack as long as they accept money from privatizing forces and agree to do anything they say and ignore any evidence that reveals their schemes. In fact, much as intelligence and curiosity will have little to do with schooling in the charter school of the today and future, intelligence, curiosity and ethics are now a real detriment to a politician. Politicians free of these trappings will be able to accept more money, more readily, and with none of the guilt or reservations someone with a soul, conscience, or sense of decency might experience.
Even big-box retailers like Walmart can extract some value from the charter school system of the future. Employees with personalities and extraneous knowledge and experiences can be a real drag, and robots are expensive. This is why the Waltons, have gotten in on the charter chuck wagon. Now rather than train their own employees with minimal skills and interests to perform tedious tasks, Walmart can rely on a ready supply of perfectly prepared recruits to staff its stores and warehouses. These recruits of the future will be force-fed CCSS Miltonian Economic philosophy so as to prepare them for a life of minimum wage (or perhaps no wages if we can lift that productivity killing handicap) zero benefits, repetition injuries, and the planned obsolescence of their positions (eventually the cost of robots will come down if the Japanese have anything to say about it.)
Thankfully schooling is more than about just school, it’s about making your transition from school to a life of silos and cubicles:
” I am a Rocketship Rocketeer at home, at school, and in my community. . .”
As this daily mantra explains, soon we can all be rocketships at home, school and in our communities. And when we’re all rocketships, this will seem normal. Then we will finally have been “Reformed” and ready to accept any new ways we can be used to make money for our charter operators.
I only wish I had a chance to have my full potential drained and distributed like those lucky pigs, in the first photo and todays charter student pioneers.
I decided to have a sit down with John White and ask him a few questions that I’m sure are on everyone’s mind with all the recent scandals swirling around his DOE. Much to my surprise he agreed to my request. Here is my interview and his responses. I have a feeling many of you don’t believe I really interviewed John White, so I included the responses he made in audio form. Apparently WordPress requires 20 dollars to make this kind of magic possible, so I hope you all appreciate the trouble I go through for you. 🙂
Me: John White, I’ve also heard that you’ve allowed some favored legislators, like Alan Seabaugh from Shreveport, undue influence in the outcome of VAM – a fully data driven system used to evaluate teachers and schools. The outcome of VAM has direct consequences of school and district funding, salary outcomes for teachers and whether teacher gain or lose teacher or even lose their job. Why are you allowing these situations to take place instead of relying on data and system you’ve claimed repeatedly is both accurate and reliable.
White: “Sometimes its just not smart to use the data.”
Me: Wow, that’s quite an admission. Did you try to explain that to BESE or the public before you pushed headlong with this VAM sham. Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun. So I assume you will explain that to BESE now and cancel VAM in light of your previous statement.
White: “People have a helluva lot harder time believing me.”
Me: Well, that’s true. But you understand why right? You lie about everything, all the time. I’m not even sure John White is your real name. It sounds like an evil villain’s ironic alias. But let’s move on shall we? It’s been said that you don’t have the proper qualifications for being a State Superintendent of Education. When people visit you, what complaint do you find they make the most about what you are doing?
White: “. . .a little concerned I’m playing ping-pong.”
Me: Uh, well. I imagine that would concern a taxpayer. I was wondering what that noise and cheering was all about when I stopped by, but just assumed you’d finishing closing down another school for poor black children.
White: “Just doing the Governor’s bidding.”
Me: Of course, of course. Jindal has a long track record of hurting the poor, so that’s one of the most honest things you’ve probably ever said actually. What would you like to say to all the people who have believed you before, only to find out time and again that you were lying? You’ve lied about having a contract with inBloom, then about cancelling it. You’ve lied about VAM being fair, or data driven. You’ve lied about destroying the old department of education website in favor of a useless one that makes debunking your claims nigh impossible. You’ve lied about the reasons for layoffs. You’ve lied about the reasons behind the MFP changes that take money away from districts, special education programs and increases charter school payouts. You’ve lied about reorganizing the department of education before getting the reorg approved by the legislature, and even moved people you didn’t like into positions you were planning to eliminate based on the the new reorg. You are laying off people based on a new reorg that hasn’t been approved, giving the reasons for the layoff as their position has been eliminated under the reorg, that in theory hasn’t happened. That is an impressive one actually. You’ve lied about your qualifications for this job, you’ve lied about all the secret agreements you’ve made with vendors, you’ve lied about providing information to BESE after testifying weeks ago you would get it right away, I could go on for pages, but you’ve lied as much I think its possible to lie. So what do you have to say to people who question whether it’s even possible for you to tell the truth?
“On the most important aspect of the law, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of families. The Scholarship Program will continue, and thousands of Louisiana families will continue to have the final say in where to send their children to school. Nearly 93 percent of Scholarship families report that they love their school, and we will work with the Legislature to find another funding source to keep parents and kids in these schools.”
While those of you who are still able to read (after my concerted effort to systematically destroy Louisiana’s education system by replacing certified teachers with “certified chipmunks” and Japanese “dolls” we purchased with an E-rate technology grant for our international bachelorette program) might infer from the passage below that the State Supreme Court did not rule in my favor, just because they explicitly and repeatedly state they are “not deciding on the merits of the challenged programs,”
As noted earlier, the discretion of BESE and the legislature is vast. However, we hasten to reiterate, we are not deciding the merits of the challenged programs. It is only at the stage in which BESE has invoked the MFP process for funding these programs and the legislature has nominally given its approval that this court is concerned. Pursuant to Article VIII | 13(B), whatever discretion existed prior to the funds being dedicated to MFP is no more; the state funds approved through th unique MFP process cannot be diverted to nonpublic schools or other nonpublic course providers according to the clear, specific, and unambiguous language of the constitution. Link – refer to page 33 of 66
I have nevertheless chosen to ignore those “word” things you limited box-thinking people rely upon. I use my imagination, my gut, and my feelings to define my reality, and my guts feel like I won! I am John White and your weak-ass Louisiana laws do not apply to me. To date I’ve never had to follow a single one of them and I can lie to everyone I meet, about everything, and still retain the full confidence of the BESE board purchased by out-of-state special interests and those annointed by Der Jindal, who likes to refer to me as his little “mini-me.” (I know what you’re thinking, little and mini are a bit redundant but I learned long ago not to argue with the “big BJ” – my super-secret name for Bobby Jindal.)
And I just want the three (3) Louisiana citizens that still support me (because they are in comas and unable to deny they still support me) to know rather than admit defeat, in the face of “reiterated” and virtually unanimous (6-1) and “unambiguous” defeat that I shall instead declare a victory! I have even quoted more unrelated statistics like 93% that make no sense in the current context because everyone knows high percentages and exclamations points are good! This is the same way I manipulate you by simply raising SPS scores to show I am better! Bigger is better and context is irrelevant: Broad Superintendent Institute prayer. (The Broad Institute is like a Course Choice program, but only 5 weekends, no tests, and requires 3 cereal box tops for a genuine Superintendent Certification good for any state that doesn’t believe their superintendent requires any actual qualifications.)
And just so you know, I will never give up on myself and MY agenda. I have terminated virtually all Louisiana classified workers and citizens and replaced them with expensive out-of-state “talent” as part of the “repay TFA” clause of my contract I created and signed for myself. (BESE president, and Garnier spokesperson, Chas Roemer gave me a stamp with his name on it for me to approve everything I do.) Now that BESE is a mere formality and everyone at DOE owes allegiance to me, rather than Louisiana, they will act in “MY” self-interest. Exclusively.
The first task I set my “fellows” (a name I give TFA kids I can’t find anything specific for them to do but still want to pay 65 – 90 thousand dollars a year) is to find a new “court” in which to get my agenda approved. Top potential “Court Choice providers”, as we’re calling them, are The Hague, the basketball court I had installed for with Special Education dollars in the offices formerly occupied by “theoretically required” federally funded Special Education personnel, and the Court of Public Opinion (which is what I call my secret potty place.) It appears Louisiana Supreme court justices are going to be a stickler for their real Constitution, rather than the toilet paper scrawled version Jindal and I made in our secret thinking place (yup, the potty) that I tried to substitute in its place.
Our first thought was to appeal to the US Supreme Court of course; to plead Louisianian’s are too stupid to have been entrusted with writing their own constitution, and that the Federal government should intervene and tell us what to do. I mean, that thing is like a hundred years old or something. Everyone knows old things are bad, which is why I fire anyone over 30 and replace them with Brownies and Tiger Cubs whenever possible.
It’s time to repeal and replace, or perhaps just repeal? Without a state Constitution Bobby Jindal would finally be unable to propose an unconstitutional law. Now wouldn’t that be something? Of course that would ruin his perfect record. . .at failure. Who says big BJ ain’t ready for DC?
To date my most popular post was the one I produced about a fictitious website named LouisianaBelievesAnything.com making fun of the Orwellian LouisianaBelieves.com site that John White unveiled as the official website for the Louisiana Department of Education. For a while LDE was regularly putting out absurd and poorly written press releases which provided a great deal of raw material to satirize. For the time being, these official blathering’s seem to have ceased. I’d like to think I played a small role in that, but I fully recognize a much more likely reason for their cessation is that the person writing them accidentally electrocuted themselves playing with shiny objects and electrical sockets.
Although it may not show in the content on the CCF blog, I’ve been keeping myself busy working with different insurgent education groups, stories I’m researching, an interview here or there (as my Clark Kent persona), and in actually creating LouisianaBelievesAnything.com!
www.LouisianaBelievesAnything.com is real now folks. Drop by and take a looksee when you get a chance. I know it’s not much to look at, but I figure this is something local folks need to create to start getting organized. LBA.com only has 5 pages now, and those pages are not set in stone, but I need your help to add more content to them.
I’d like to draw your attention to the Calendar of Events section. I found these events on LAE’s site, but I’m sure you guys are holding more of them throughout Louisiana for parents and teachers to get informed and involved in the disaster Public Education in Louisiana is becoming under John White and his corporate cronies. If you have some events you’d lie me to add, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with details. Please be sure to include the date, time, event name, location and any contact info (phone number or website) to get further info.
Since the Louisiana Department of Education removed all of their direct links to data, I thought I’d add a few back on a dedicated page for easy access. If you come across any more useful links for data please let me know so I can add them here. One of these links is actually a DOE site they may have forgotten to take down and I really need to download and archive all the data on it, but haven’t gotten around to it. If someone else wants to do that and host that data it might be a good idea before it too disappears.
For quick list of my previous Louisiana Believes inspired pieces and exposes, please refer to this page.
VETERAN TEACHER EROSION HOLDS STEADY FOR THIRD CONSECUTIVE YEAR
Teachers in high poverty schools are more likely to flee Louisiana schools than teachers in low poverty schools
BATON ROUGE, La. – The Department of Education today released what we are choosing to call an analysis of teacher hiring, retention, and departure data over three prior years. We would like you to believe this contradicts recent assertions that teacher attrition has spiked 27% statewide this year, by ignoring the current year entirely. As the data showed 3 years before our most draconian policies were implemented; teachers simply fled the profession at a steady rate in anticipation of these changes. Obviously, now that the changes are being implemented teachers are fleeing much faster. State data show that attrition rates among teachers have experienced minimal to no variation over the three years before the policies took place. In the 2009-10 school year, when VAM was not in place, 11 percent of teachers left the classroom; 12 percent left in both 2010-2011 and 2011-2012. Furthermore and forthwith, to make our argument seem even more nonsensical, new teacher hiring has increased statewide in recent years to compensate for the spontaneous pumpkinification of teachers, which is not considered an exit reason for our calculations.
The data also demonstrate that the state has seen success in retaining and promoting its teachers in wealthier districts and schools; teachers who are leaving the profession have tended to be from schools with higher concentrations of poverty than those who remain. Findings show that among teachers measured through a model called “value-added,” boasting a pace-setting 40% 2 year accuracy rate, those who remained in the workforce the following school year were more likely to be teaching at “wealthier schools” than were those who exited. To put it another way, those teachers exiting the workforce were more likely to be teaching in “high poverty schools” than were those who stayed. In addition, recent studies released at various forums friendly to LDOE’s agenda show how no academic harm comes from the early retirement of experienced teachers (while we contend this does not happen we have the data to show the flight that is happening is meaningless anyways.) The reason teacher quality is not important for low performing/high poverty schools is that funding is tied to performance now, so low performing schools get less money than high performing schools – making their task of closing the gap impossible. Eventually these schools will become eligible to be taken over by one of our eager campaign donors and then we will fund them enough to generate profits and even more campaign contributions.
The Teacher Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL) recently reported a 27% increase in the rate of teacher retirements based on questionable calculations like the numbers of teachers seeking retirements and exiting the profession. LDOE feels it is worth mentioning “retirement” covers only teachers who can retire, and their numbers do not include spontaneous pumpkification either! Because their numbers are obviously much more accurate than the LDOEs make believe numbers, and clearly show a dramatic increase in teacher retirements we feel we need to use a lot of complicated words, phrases and doublespeak to make it seem like we have a rational argument to make. Such employees who retire, choose to end their careers for a variety of reasons, many of them financial, some spiritual, some win the lottery, one or two probably join the circus. . . Frankly, we need to hire one of these veteran teachers to write our press releases because these releases are filled with massively flawed logic and make us sound like uneducated simpletons. (Nevertheless, we shall continue to release meaningless press releases.)
“Take note,” said John White. “I am using vehemence to make up for my lack of salient points! The Department’s data clearly disproves that teacher attrition is peaking. Also note that the number of teaching licenses granted to new teachers in the state actually accelerated over the past several years. Despite what ‘logic’ may tell you, an untested subject I might add, the fact that more veteran teachers are retiring and an acceleration of new teacher licenses means veteran teachers are staying at the same rate.”
John White continued, “I like to say the same thing many ways to drive home my erroneous points. The data show that since the issuance of teaching licenses is way up we do not have a statewide shortage of teachers. Pretend for the moment that doesn’t just mean we are hiring more teachers to fill in for all the fleeing ones” said White. “Equally important, let me distract you by saying the Compass system focuses on identifying, developing, and keeping great teachers. That is a big change, and it is working because I have great data that shows it is working, and even greater interpretive skills to believe it is working.”
LOUISIANA DISTRICTS COMMIT TO DIGITIZING ALL PUBLIC SCHOOL CHILDREN BY 2014
BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Education today released updated reports on the progress of technology readiness by messenger pigeon for the sake of irony. ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, instructed Jindal on an excellent plan to save money – by fully digitized our public school children by 2014-2015. This plan is expected to be even more cost-effective that virtual charter schools and Louisiana actually expects to be able to make money on this venture by 2015. This will allow Louisiana to provide tax rebates to corporations and individuals making in excess of 10 million dollars a year – to continue with the creation of additional high paying jobs overseas, and the creation of jobs domestically in the rapidly growing ass-wiping and food tasting service industries.
State Superintendent John White said, “Every public school child deserves to be digitized. We believe students achieve high standards, so long as we lower the actual standards and re-label them as “high.” Additionally, we have seen that digitizing people is possible from movies such as Max Headroom and the Lawnmower Man – and those movies are pretty old. The Department will continue to support districts in their efforts by providing quality, affordable technology options for digitizing their children and up-to-date information to make certain that 100 percent of our districts are prepared to digitize 110% of their kids. Our ultimate goal is to make certain that our public students are workforce ready. With that goal in mind we intend to ensure your kids are easily uploadable into industrial machinery or other tools and gadgets that can be found at Harbor Freight or Brookstone.
Districts and schools have worked to upgrade and enhance the technology available to digitize their children through everyday “classroom devices“, like meat grinders, sewing machines, and stone crushers. 82,754 devices meet the new standards, an increase from 67,038 six months ago. Both of those are big numbers. Districts now only need to purchase an additional 14,913 devices, down from 37,000 in July, which are also big, overly specific numbers meant to impress with our unnecessary preciseness.
Several districts have made notable gains in digitalizing readiness:
Plaquemines Parish. Only 1 school was digitally ready in July 2012, now all 8 schools meet the recommended standards. Their students are now gainfully employed running elevators and mixing machines. Fancy ones.
Concordia. All 10 schools meet the recommended standards, up from only 1 in July 2012. Their students are earmarked for fully electricalized magic eight balls. (No shaking and turning required!)
City of Monroe. All 19 schools have been digitized. Their kids now control programmable refrigerators, alarm clocks, and Forman grills.
Districts will continue to submit data on new devices or upgrades to current technology throughout the process of becoming digitizing ready by the 2014-2015 school year.
Non-Public schools are exempted from this ambitious goal. ALEC believes it is important that we groom some of our children to actually purchase all of these new, student implanted, devices.
BATON ROUGE, La. – In response to the feedback of pro-charter and reform groups, virtual school operators, and testing companies, the Louisiana Department of Education today announced a complete overhaul of its website. The website’s URL has changed to louisianabelievesanything.com, reflecting the state’s comprehensive plan to ensure every student is fleeced for the maximum state funding before they track to prison or an exciting chicken plucking career. With the change comes a redesign of the entire website with the goal of making navigation through the site easier, by eliminating all useful or historical content. The Department tailored the changes to address concerns that the old site was too revealing and contained accurate information that contradicted pithy press releases like this one. The new site reflects the premise of Louisiana Believes Anything. Based on this discovery, our true bosses expect high profit margins from warehousing students and incessant testing. Empowering charter operators and testing companies to charge exorbitant fees that can be kicked back to fund political campaigns and candidates favorable to this agenda is key to the success of the Louisiana Believes Anything mantra.
“As part of our commitment to providing clear, concise information to help families and educators make informed decisions, we redesigned our website to ensure virtual visitors can find useless information and photos of me with my sleeves rolled up handing out giant fake checks, quickly and efficiently,” said State Superintendent of Education John White. “Rather than an expansive list of programs and regulations, which we have discontinued in favor of hiring more PR folks and lawyers to fend off legal challenges to our draconian policies, the new site focuses on distracting visitors from the lack of support for true student achievement.”
“Louisianabeilevesanything.com is constructed with stooges, politicians, and the legally blind in mind, specifically the exclusion of anything that contradicts the narrative I’m trying to craft that is unsupported by the actual data being collected and reported. The new website also features a Library that contains some random documents, forms and other information about education in Louisiana that to a casual observer might seem useful. This Library was created with all of Louisiana in mind, realizing that I just asked BESE to stop requiring schools to fund actual libraries or librarians, I thought it would be ironic to create an empty useless “library” on the Department’s website. In this new “Library”, families can find information about what their old libraries used to contain as well as a coupon for a free smoothie with the purchase of any LouisianaBelievesAnything John White action figure, complete with real sleeves that can be rolled up to wrist, elbow or even ripped off for an effect I call the “Rambo.” We’ve also included extremely summarized data detailing the state’s academic results we want to show, without any context or supporting figures. We originally shied away from showing even this much, but ultimately we were compelled to do so because we accepted a 4 million dollar grant from IES, the Institute of Education Statistics in return for showing something data-esque-y – and John White Action figures don’t buy themselves.”
Additionally, information about Department programs and initiatives are now categorized under one of eight headings –Alphabet Soup, Teaching to the Test, You can’t spell Assessment without ASS, Accountability Shmountability, Funding Campaign Contributors, Early Childhood Lost, Shadow Schools, and Coursers and Other Big Horses. The new website also will highlight “Hot Topic” fashions – a Goth inspired chain store. This was done in part to confuse people a little more, but mostly because they donated 5,000 dollars to Jindal’s election campaign and another unspecified sum to his wife’s, Supriya’s, “charity.”
“We encourage everyone to click around our new and charter approved website,” said Superintendent White. “If you have thoughts or suggestions to improve our website, please email us at email@example.com so we can add those items to our list of things never to do.
BESE Congratulates Superintendent John White on performing an outstanding job
Chas Roemer , BESE President, explained to a packed Louisiana Purchase Room, filled to the brim with charter lobbyists and brown-nosing sycophants, that without John White’s leadership, Louisiana would have followed in the path of so many failures before it, by reporting accurate data.
“John White is a true champion of the Reform movement and Louisiana. He is not afraid to radically change our entire scoring system to in order to make it possible for 97% of our high school students to believe they are achieving more than their predecessors. Under his leadership I have no doubt we will reach whatever seemingly random goal he sets for us, and even shatter it!”
Holly Boffy, BESE cheerleader, exclaimed “Give me a W! Give me an I! Give me a G H T! Goooooooo Wight!” Mrs. Boffy was informed later of the actual spelling of John White’s name (although she remained skeptical it was not the same as the undead bloodsucking traitors of Tolkien lore.)
Students First, a corporate shill organization run and funded by charter organizations, has recognized John White’s outstanding contributions to their cause and given John White and Louisiana a top grade in conforming to their profiteering agenda. This endorsement came at some personal cost to Students First as they had to endorse a State that rated an “F” on achievement according to Education Week magazine, ranking slightly ahead of the absolute worst state, Mississippi.
When asked what his goal was for next year, John White replied, “Mississippi is going down! It’s about time Louisiana was the top of a list for once! We haven’t driven off all our best teachers and replaced them with crappy virtual school simulations and defunded traditional districts just to stay 49th!”
Based on the applause and cheers greeting this statement, most of those assembled appeared to believe John White could achieve this goal.
For Questions about this release, simply attend the BESE meeting at the Claiborne Building in downtown Baton Rouge, January 15th and 16th, 2013, while they review John White’s performance and BESE ignores anyone who raises objections.
Even though our overly politically correct society has decided that beating animals with poles can be construed as unjust and abuse of the animals (and might get you thrown in jail or beaten by an angry mob yourself) and beating incarcerated adults is considered cruel and unusual punishment and forbade by our courts and Constitution. . . (apparently the 8th amendment even applies in Louisiana, folks.)
In Hudson v McMillian (1992) the Court considered whether the beating by prison guards of a handcuffed inmate at Louisiana’s Angola prison violated the inmate’s Eighth Amendment rights. Voting 7 to 2, the Court found a violation of the cruel and unusual punishment clause even though the inmate suffered no permanent injuries or injuries that required hospitalization. In so holding, the Court rejected the lower court’s argument that only beatings that caused “significant injuries” (read as injuries that were permanent or required hospitalization) rose to the level of Eighth Amendment violations. In dissent, Justices Thomas and Scalia argued (controversially) that the Eighth Amendment was intended to reach beatings by guards at all–rather only judicially-imposed sentences.
I believe a sound case can be made that ample use of the rod will impress upon our youth a valuable lesson that will serve them well throughout the rest of their life in this great country of ours.
The “Lesson” you ask?
Namely that of what I like to call the Iron Fist Rule as more pragmatic, modern, alternative to the passe’ Golden Rule. That force can, nay should, be met with unequal and overwhelming counter-force.
Take the recent example of Trayvon Martin. Here was a youth who had the sheer audacity to wear a hooded sweatshirt in a neighborhood known for harboring an over zealous neighborhood watch captain. No parent of a minority child in this country should, for one instant, think to allow their child to go outside looking like anything but an unassuming fellow like that Urkel from Family Matters. In this tragedy, the parents are as much to blame as the child who wore the hooded sweatshirt. Now some poor, frightened, gun-toting American is being harassed for doing what almost any one of us would have done in his case, chased down a suspicious character even after being told by the police to not chase him, (I mean, what black kid isn’t suspicious to Zimmerman?) and cornered him and his fiendishly purchased bag of skittles from the corner convenience store. Trayvon could have just done what a gun brandishing Zimmerman wanted, whatever that was, but instead Trayvon made the wrong choice. He chose to flee. Obviously Zimmerman had no choice but to shoot to kill.
Now you may be asking yourself, how does this tie into Corporal Punishment and Louisiana exactly?
The answer is quite simple. I believe we can prevent many of our own Trayvon Martin incidents by ensuring that Corporal Punishment is introduced into our public school system as early as possible. I mean, can you imagine any child not benefiting from strangers beating them in pre-school when they act up? What better way to convince little Timmy not to pinch or push another kid than 5 to 10 whacks with what I would like to refer to as the “Louisiana Board of Education” (funny huh?) which, off the top of my head, might be a wooden paddle 24″ long by 5″ wide by 3/8″ thick. . . or so. If we allowed our children to be beaten early and often for anything by just about anyone in authority they would soon learn that authority figures must be obeyed. . . or else.
I haven’t seen any credible studies done to prove what I’m about to say, but theoretically someone could create some statistics that would show that beating children on a regular basis improves test scores. Current studies actually show the opposite, as well as a number of other unfavorable correlations, but I’m sure we could find a reputable paddle maker to fund a study that would prove my point, so I will continue to assert my previous point more emphatically, thus making it true. Paddling will increase test scores! Paddling will lower the crime rates and murder rate, and also make us more competitive in the global marketplace! I believe it is our duty to pass laws in Louisiana that will allow school districts to paddle their students to their hearts’ content.
I’ll also throw in this observation as an added bonus. Corporal Punishment on Special Education students is not regulated by the Federal government. In fact, they may not even collect any data on this subject, which is an added, added bonus! Student’s with learning disabilities, or behavior problems such as being emotionally disturbed, would probably benefit from being “mainstreamed” with this discipline approach. Lets face it folks, Special Education students are probably the hardest students for teachers to work with and reach. Providing a 2 foot wooden paddle to teachers would greatly increase their reach. Additionally, since we’re cutting back on teacher salaries and benefits, many of them might not be able to afford gym memberships or therapy sessions anymore. Allowing teachers to administer a little corporal punishment on Special Educations students would probably help our teachers and principals in school districts that implement my policies build up some muscle tone and relieve some stress, sort of like using a punching bag in a gym does after a long day at work. But they could do this while at work! Many of the slower Special Education students might have trouble explaining or recanting the situation the provoked the corporal punishment response, which would make it almost impossible for anyone to sue a school district, principal, or teacher if they happen to go a little overboard with their exercise regime. . .
Ok, take a deep breath.
Hopefully this line of reasoning has you recoiling in horror and revulsion. However you may not have grasped the most disturbing part about this piece. This situation is already true in many parishes in the state. Louisiana Revised Statute. 17:223 allows school districts to set their own corporal punishment policies.
And boy have they!
You can see a sampling of some of the variety here.
Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:223 – Discipline of pupils; suspension from school, corporal punishment
A. Every teacher is authorized to hold every pupil to a strict accountability for any disorderly conduct in school or on the playground of the school, or on any school bus going to or returning from school, or during intermission or recess. Each parish and city school board shall have discretion in the use of corporal punishment. In those cases in which a parish or city school board decides to use corporal punishment, each parish or city school board shall adopt such rules and regulations as it deems necessary to implement and control any form of corporal punishment in the schools in its district.
Estimates are close to 30 parishes have some form of Corporal Punishment policy. State law does not give the state Department of Education any say over the matter whatsoever. This means any school or school district in Louisiana can allow anyone on their staff to use any amount of corporal punishment for any offense as often as they like regardless of the age or health of the student. Some parishes punish up to half of their entire student body, every year! Some students get punished dozens of times a year! There are no restrictions for using this punishment on disabled students, or infants, or the 18 and 19 year olds we are about to send out into the real world and hope they won’t take these lessons with them.
Fortunately more than half the state understands that this practice is barbaric, or they have at least recognized the potential liability they could incur should a student successfully sue and win on 8th Amendment grounds. The messed up part here is that, while as a society we generally find animal abuse and abuse of prisoners abhorrent, when we rename the abuse “Corporal Punishment” and use it on our children, too many people find it tolerable or even something to be proud of.
I’m proud of Louisiana culture, Louisiana food, art, music, history, resilience, and perseverance in the face of many an overwhelmingly adverse situation. However this state sanctioned child abuse, this is something of which I am very ashamed to be associated with. My only hope is that one day enough of you will feel that way as well, and join my call to outlaw it.
Incidentally, and as I’ve discussed with others earlier, our appeals court has determined in Setliff vVs Rapides School Board that the legislature does not allow parents to opt out of corporal punishment for their children. This case involves a kindergartener, certainly not well-behaved, but nevertheless one that was subjected to corporal punishment against his parents wishes. According to the court, allowing parents the right to refuse to allow their children to be beaten with a wooden club that at times requires emergency room visits (also cited in the case notes) would lead to riots in the streets, mass hysteria and pandemonium, dogs and cats living together, basically life on this planet would end as we know it.
Neither the statutes nor the school board policies mandate that a spanking must be administered to a student. No school official is compelled to corporally punish a child. But by allowing corporal punishment, the legislature has recognized the need for such under certain circumstances. Significantly, in giving this discretion to our school systems, the legislature made no requirement that parents must first consent to such punishment. Nor has the legislature provided that parents be allowed to issue a carte blanche prohibition of a school’s exercising its rights under the statutes. To allow parents to unilaterally thwart the legally sanctioned decisions of school officials, could lead to troublesome, if not chaotic, results. There would be nothing to prevent ten, twenty or a hundred parents calling in to request that their child not be spanked. What if these same number of parents requested that no form of punishment whatsoever be administered to their children? The legislature, in its wisdom, chose not to leave the door open for such potentially dire consequences.
For updates on my Corporal Punishment progress and other education issues please go here.
I need people to start calling the Louisiana Department of Education and telling them to release the Corporal Punishment data to requesters and to publish the results.
Here is the link to LDOE’s Corporal Punishment information page. Currently it contains no relevent collected data.