Those Lying Jason Engen Eyes

Those Lying Jason Engen Eyes

I was just notified that Jason Engen had the audacity to file an ethics complaint against Kathy Edmonston for producing literature he is not against Common Core.

As proof of his opposition all we have is his word and an ad he produced claiming he was against it.  On the other side of the equation is a preponderance of the evidence that shows he is lying about this, and numerous other issues that I will cover in upcoming posts.  As Megan Trainor singes, “His lips are moving and he lies lies lies.”

While just about every single claim Jason makes in his own literature is a lie, I will focus on the one he has filed a complaint about Edmonston for because among other things, I have his own words to indict him.

You see, I was a candidate against Engen in the primary, where he was supported almost solely by Lane, LABI and their various PACs they formed to get around ethics restrictions for donation limits from single sources.  LABI formed 4 political action committees called WestPac, EastPac, NorthPac and SouthPac.


Lane Grigsby, owner of Cajun Industries and chief contributor and director of LABI, (The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry) also has control of several more, one of which is named Grigsby’s Empower PAC.  Lane Grigsby has been one of Common Core’s staunchest defenders in this state.  I met with him earlier this year and he mocked me and parents for being against Common Core.  I explained some of the specific issues about Common Core to him, face-to-face, and he waved me off and said “it doesn’t matter, it’s about using standards to test teachers and hold them “accountable” and Common Core is the only solution that will do that.”

Earlier this year Engen’s biggest supporter sent pink stuffed unicorns to every single legislature at the state capital while they were in session, from yet another one of his PACs (ABC pac), with a note that said “Unicorns are not real.  And neither are most of the problems you’ve heard about Common Core.”

When I organized some parents to send some stuffed crawfish to legislators with a message that the problems with Common Core were real, like crawfish, he countered with an elaborate hardback glossy book with a giant unicorn centerfold and quotes from Ronald Regan, Grigsby and his PAC claimed showed that even the deceased Ronald Reagan supports Common Core.

This is the unicorn the put on Brett Geymann’s house seat to taunt him, and other parents and teachers who are against Common Core, last Spring.


The push is led by the Alliance for Better Classrooms political action committee, or ABC PAC.

The same group, with Baton Rouge contractor Lane Grigsby as one of its leaders, played a key role in the 2011 races for the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Organizers of the effort have distributed stuffed pink or white unicorns to state lawmakers that include tags that say “Unicorns are not real. And neither are most of the things you’ve heard about Common Core State Standards.”

This is Jason Engen’s primary support.  Last I checked 98% of his funds came from Grigsby, his allies, and his various PACs.  Of course, Engen filed his own ethics paperwork late during the primary, and failed to disclose a number of things he spent money on, like even how he paid for his $900 filing fee, although he believed enough in himself to loan himself $900 so he could get even that refunded by Grigsby.

Scores of people have reported they’ve tried to ask Engen some specific questions about Common Core, like when he started finding problems when it, what he finds problematic specifically, but he deletes those comments from his Facebook campaign site and then blocks those people from coming back.  His behaviors is boorish and churlish and unbecoming of a representative of the people.  You can expect this behavior to only get worse if you elect him to anything but gazing at his own navel.

When I met with Grigsby he made it clear he didn’t want to support people that listened to the public, he only wanted people that listened to him.  I refused his support, as did BESE member Lottie Bebee.  Those that accept Grigsby backing do so with that understanding that his views are the only ones that matter.

But let’s get to that more personal look at Engen’s beliefs I alluded to earlier, shall we?

Engen texted me from his personal cell phone to complain about some claims I made on my blog he felt were unfair.  I claimed he has another 12 year old child that does not appear in his commercials where he talks about his 3 other children by his current wife that went to private schools and that he went to private schools his whole life.  Jason told me this was untrue, and that he was actually a public school student and so was his daughter.  I asked him for specifics and he provided the name of elementary school he spent at least one day at growing up.  I asked Engen about the private school he listed he was a graduate from on his own webpage and instead of confirming he was being misleading said

“That’s where I went to high school.  You said I never attended public schools.  That’s an incorrect statement.”

I thought he was claiming to be some sort of engineer, not a Bill Clinton type lawyer arguing the letter of the law, but sobeit.  However the most interesting thing about this conversation is how he started it off with me.  It was never about Common Core, I never brought it up in my post, but look what he wrote me.

“Jason, Jason Engen here.  In the interest of accuracy I would like to clarify a few things. My “inconvenient truth’s” name is “[redacted]”. She has been in public schools here entire life.  She’s currently a student at [redacted] Middle School in [redacted], [redacted] where her mom lives.  They have been using Common Core for years and she’s a straight A student.”

Now why would he bring that up if he was against Common Core?  Does that sound like a Common Core opponent to you, or a proud proponent?

Engen is a liar and a coward who hides behind his lies and his children to provide him cover.


Engen pimps his children in his commercial’s and literature and incessantly uses them as his reason for running and primary qualification, but doesn’t want anyone else to bring that up.  He probably also doesn’t want to bring up that his current wife is actually his third wife.

In the spirit of accuracy and fairness I would ask that Engen add his 2 other wives and 12 year old so we have a more honest picture of who we’re dealing with here.

However, I have found one thing I can finally agree with Engen on:

“My opponent has made false statements regarding my position on key issues,” said Engen. “To mislead the voters is not acceptable behavior for anyone seeking to serve in public office. I’m concerned that if my opponent cannot tell the truth on the campaign trail, then why should the people of District 6 believe she would tell the truth if elected.”

Engen has a bizarre aversion to the truth.  He claims he is for local control in his own literature, while simultaneously telling a forum full of people he believes he should have the power as a state representative to take over local schools if he doesn’t like they way they are performing.  Local control also means overriding local school board decisions at the state level to impose charter schools on A and B districts to Engen. He also told them he wants to be part of the process of where the state and BESE take control of all local daycare and pre-school programs and impose more restrictions and requirements on families that homeschool their children.  But Engen proudly prints “Local Control” on all his literature.  You couldn’t be more big government than comrade Engen.

If Engen is against Common Core, and LABI and Lane Grigsby (his primary supporters) have changed their tune in the last day, well maybe unicorns really are real?


By the way, if you have been trying and trying to reach Engen and he keeps deleting you and blocking you and you have a few minutes, why not simply just call him up with your questions?  He does want to be your rep on BESE so let him start listening to you now.  Call Engen at 225-405-0026 and ask him when he first started hating Common Core, what his problems are with it specifically (other than it’s not Louisiana based) and what he would like to see changed.  I imagine that won’t be a very long conversation.  Report your answers back to Kathy Edmonston so she can refer them to her lawyers.


Now the fun begins. . .

Now the fun begins. . .

The last year and a half has not been all that fun for me personally.  You see, I started my BESE campaign about that long ago.  I was told I would enjoy the experience, make new friends, and  have an opportunity to guide the conversation.  Maybe that’s true in other states, but not Louisiana.  I actually lost a number of friends who felt I had sold out to corporate interests.  My health declined, and I had to disappoint my children and family during the ordeal.

I was happy being an erstwhile blogger.  I actually became a candidate at the request of some allies (who later turned on me, sadly enough.)  I suppose there are worse things that could have happened, and I did make some great new friends along the way, but “friends” who become enemies without warning and continue to participate in my campaign and spy on me?  Not cool.

I rose to moderate prominence because of my blog, the one you are reading now.  In the campaigning process I had to give up more of my controversial and saucy subject material in favor of more bland and positive fare.  This of course sapped much of my interest in continuing my blog.  I found it difficult to strike a balance between going after wrongdoing, and not alienating potential voters.

I also found I had very little time to maintain my blog as campaign activities overtook all of my free time, forcing me out of Karate with my kids, boy scouts with my son, and family vacations (I stayed home and campaigned while the family went away without me.)  I did all of this for the opportunity to serve on an unpaid board, BESE, which would not only take all of my free-time but also my vacation time as well.  Unlike candidates and re-elected BESE members like Holly Boffy or Kira Orange Jones (who work for organizations where serving on BESE is considered part of their jobs) I work as a normal nine-to-five stiff, outside of education circles.  I don’t pay my house mortgage with my contract job (like Holly Boffy has said she does with her CCSSO position) with an organization that directly profits from my service.

Had I been elected to BESE, for the next 4 years a minimum of 12 of my 18 vacation days would be needed to serve on BESE.  Those 18 days also include sick-leave, doctor visits, taking care of sick children or trying to attend field trips with my kids.  Additionally BESE often has unscheduled “emergency” meetings which would have taken up additional time.  For the next 4 years I would have probably had to take unpaid leave to serve, and miss out on a lot of time with my own kids and family to help out all Louisiana families, but I was willing to do it.  Sometimes it’s important to take a stand and sacrifice for what you believe in, and I wanted to lead by example.

So losing the election is not that great a loss to me personally.  Actually, the way things fell into place I could not lose.  Either I got to keep all my free-time, vacation time, time with my kids and family, and work on my own health (I developed diabetes and high blood pressure during my campaign) or I would serve on an elected board for the betterment of Louisiana, (and perhaps the nation, as I planned to prove how misguided and deceitful our education reform movement has become in Louisiana.)  In truth, I personally got the better end of the deal.  Nevertheless, I tried my best and greatly appreciate all the donors and volunteers who believed in me, donated to me, or just urged me on throughout the ordeal.  Without that support I would have given up my quest long ago.

All that being said, now the question becomes, what do I do now? I have already been helping out the campaigns of the two remaining FlipBESE candidates.  One of the problems with running a campaign of your own, is not being able to help others with theirs.  It may be that my best move would have been to stayed out of the race and taken on a more supportive role.

I am free to do that now.

Here are some of the things I wanted to accomplish with my BESE run, so you can deem for yourself if I was successful.

  • I wanted to pull  a team of folks together from across the state to run candidates against the education reform backed candidates.
  • I wanted people to see that if a little known blogger can run for a BESE seat, so can anyone else.  I believe bizarre attacks launched against me by the puppets annointed by the status quo showed that I was seen as a real threat to their plans.
  • I wanted to drive Chas Roemer from his post as BESE President.  Chas declared he was not running hours after I formally qualified to run. (Perhaps coincidence, perhaps not.)
  • I wanted to finally clear my conscience of feeling responsible for knowing about all the false claims and reports and the illegal, unethical, actions of John White and the Louisiana Department of Education.
  • I wanted to face these lying cowards down face to face and call them out for the deceitful, ignorant, puppets that they are.  (That one was fun.)

Now I am set free.  I’ve contacted everyone I could (including reporters at the New York Times).  I’ve told parts of my story in front of a live studio audience.  I’ve created a blog and helped launch a movement.  I’ve even run for a political office to try and impact change directly.

All that my enemies have accomplished is making me stronger by moving me beyond their reach to critique.  They should have done more during the campaign, but now it is too late. They foolishly chose to strike me down too soon. The millions of dollars they spent over a month’s time span to lie their allies into BESE won’t protect them from me over the next four years.  I was playing nice before, but now I’ve come to see all the pieces on the playing field.

“If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” Obi-Wan Kenobi

And this time. . . I’m coming for the puppet masters, and their allies too.


The BESE Battle Continues. (Please support Kathy Edmonston and Mary Harris)

To everyone who supported and believed in me and the other FlipBESE candidates you have my utmost respect, thanks, and gratitude.  With your help we terrified our opponents into outspending us in the 100’s to one range, to fabricate and promulgate lies about us, and to actually adopt OUR platforms to defeat us. 

None of the LABI backed candidates ran on platforms claiming Common Core and PARCC were outstanding or that the state should confiscate and run all of our schools, because they knew those claims would cost them the elections. So while LABI and their allies claim education reform got a mandate in Saturday’s election, nothing could be further from the truth. You won’t see LABI’s remaining lapdogs doing anything to promote the agenda they claim they have a mandate for in their runoffs.

That means it is crystal clear (even to our opponent’s highly paid political consultants) that it was FlipBESE that won Saturday, October 24th, NOT corporate ed reform and Common Core.

Now that LABI has most of the BESE seats, and has deceived and bribed their way into unseating two of our greatest champions (Carolyn Hill and Lottie Bebee) it is more important than ever to rally around our remaining champions.

We NEED Mary Harris and Kathy Edmonston to defend our teachers, parents, and students.

For this reason I am proud to endorse and support Kathy Edmonston for the BESE district 6 runoff race against LABI owned Jason Engen.

Please support her as you would have supported me had I made the runoff. She will need all the help she can get for the evil that is coming.

Kathy has assured me she will remain steadfast and confident in her role as one of the lone voices on BESE against Common Core, and the deceitful state Superintendent John White. 

Kathy has recommitted herself to the fight and has steeled herself to be ready for anything her opponents will try to throw at her, but she can’t do this alone.

Please consider a donation to get Kathy through these final weeks.  Her donation page is:

Please also consider donating to Mary Harris of district 4. Her donation page is:

Thank you again for all you’ve done, and all you will do.  While some of our candidates may have lost their races due to the unscrupulous tactics of our opponents and out of state billionaires using their obscene wealth to play god with other people’s lives, our ideas actually carried the day. 

The general public does not realize they just voted to enshrine Common Core and PARCC testing, and to continue the destruction of our public schools, the maligning of our  teachers, and the mental abuse of our children. The public will understand soon enough, and when they do we will need Kathy Edmonston and Mary Harris sitting on the board to explain why.  We will need Kathy and Mary to hold these liars responsible, and to inform the media what is really going on.  Please make sure our folks get to where they are needed.

Thank you, and good luck Kathy and Mary.

Jason France’s Leadership in the Common Core Fight in Louisiana and Why He is the Best Candidate in District 6

One of the re-occurring questions I get on the campaign trail is my position on Common Core.  So let me say this in no uncertain terms – Common Core is a disaster for Louisiana.

I was one of the first people in the state to raise the alarm bells about Common Core, starting about 3 years ago.  Before being against Common Core became cool, I was one of the lone voices against this federal overreach, and one of the earliest leaders in the movement and I received a lot of ridicule in those days. 

Before Governor candidate John Bel Edwards had formed an opinion on the subject Lee Barrios (running in BESE district 1) and I met John Bel to educate him on the topic in a CC’s coffee house a few years ago.  Edwards had not made up his mind at that point, but we did our best to set him on a path to asking more questions. 

I was a speaker at the two largest rallies against Common Core in Baton Rouge (one held on the steps of the Claiborne building, September 28th 2013 sponsored in part by the Greater New Orleans Tea Party, and another on the steps of the capital on June 14, 2014, sponsored by the Libertarian Party of Louisiana.


Me at Claiborne Rally

Me at the First anti-Common Core rally on steps of Claiborne building (I was a speaker and tied this banner to the staircase – September 28, 2013. 

Before the national consciousness was awakened, I was fighting and writing about Common Core on my blog.  I wrote a piece as a parent that received national attention and was used an example in national articles alongside comedian Louis C.K.  My signature piece also won the notice of Motoko Rich, from the New York Times, (who came down to Louisiana to meet with me and parents I recommended) Aljazeera America, NPR, among others. 

I am not just a statewide recognized opponent of Common Core, I am a nationally recognized one.

Here is a piece by New York Times education writer Motoko Rich where I am quoted and referenced:

Others who oppose the Common Core in Louisiana said the governor’s actions were more political theater than anything else. “If his intent was to stop it, it was very ineffective,” said Jason France, an education blogger who plans to run for the state education board next year. “All it’s done is lead to chaos.”

As noted in the preceding article, Common Core is one of the reasons I decided to run for the state school board.  I announced my intentions in April of 2014 and identified Common Core as one of the issues I wanted to address.

Here is one of my more popular pieces on Common Core that gained nationwide and even international attention with many tens of thousands of views and republications.

That piece starts with an intro of the situation in Louisiana most people were unaware of.  Louisiana’s BESE board adopted Common Core in 2010 before the standards were even completed and without following the Administrative Procedures Act or providing a chance for the public to provide input.  In fact, the public could not easily have provided input because the standards were not even finalized!

If you would like to see 60 or so more essays/articles from me dealing with Common Core and PARCC exam problems, why not visit my blog?

Believe it or not, that’s not all of them. 

I also wrote Op Ed pieces for various Louisiana newspapers on Common Core and the opt out movement.  The newspapers that dared publish my pieces received heat from the business community most of them were removed from being displayed online.  However I posted one on my blog that I sent to the American Press in the Lake Charles area.  I think it’s a pretty good piece and helped spur one of the greatest opt-out movements in the state.

To PARCC or Move On:

Frankly I doubt anyone in this state has written or published more about Common Core than yours truly. 

  • I am the fighter you want in your corner on the BESE board for this issue and countless other ones. 
  • I have been following and writing about this issue intensely for years. 
  • I am the only candidate in district 6 with kids in the public school system.  (The other Jason talks about his kids under 4 in commercials, but what he doesn’t talk about is his 12 year old daughter named Lille who’s only ever been in private school or that he never attended public school either. )


I have cute kids too, but unlike Engen, mine are actually in public schools. I also don’t need to exploit them in commercials and mail outs for votes or to make myself seem qualified – unlike somebody else I know. . .

I guess Engen’s 12 year old didn’t make the cut – since she would be an inconvenient truth that he is only interested in this position for big business:


You see, Engen is backed by Big Business.  That’s why he can afford to spend hundreds of thousands on commercials running round the clock (for an unpaid position. Engen even decided to run because he felt no one was looking out for big business’ interests

The Hayride first asked Engen why he’s running for BESE. He says he’s in the race because no one represented the business side who he calls the end user of the education system.

Engen did not decide to run to help out Louisiana families, but to plug children into a business pipeline (he said this at the Leaders with Vision forum on October 6th) for his employers and his single significant backer, LABI/Lane Grigsby.

In contrast, I am backed my dozens and dozens of small donors.  I have no PACs supporting me, no corporations, no out of state billionaires, no unions, no big businesses, no real-estate firms, no technology vendors – no one but folks like you. 

I am your candidate and I hope you will be my voters.

October 24th is less than a week away.  I hope for all our sakes, and the sakes of my children in our public schools, that you understand I’m not just the right choice, but the only one that’s already been there for you when you needed me most. 

Will you be there for me now? 

Please help me help you with your vote this Saturday, October 24th.  I am Number 45 on your ballot.


Jason France

Candidate BESE district 6 (Baton Rouge, Ascension, Livingston, Tangipahoa, Washington)


P.S. Take a look at a few of my other projects over the years in the fight to rid our state of Common Core.

Common Good

Me presenting at the Common Good Preserving Public Education Conference (Diane Ravitch recommended me and gave my intro to conference) talking about the dangers of Common Core and need Liberals and Conservatives to work together to kick out Common Core. 


Acadian patriots meeting common core

At the Acadian Patriots meeting, talking about the false PR campaign for Common Core and the tactics used by the LDOE to trick parents and teachers.


common Core mardi Gras

Part of campaign I started to raise awareness of the dangers of Common Core during Mardi Gras last year.


Common Core bible

A graphic I had commissioned for a blog post explaining the dangers of Common Core with a shout out to Matthew.


My Common Core billboard

One of several large billboards my blog was featured on (bottom left corner) and recommended for parents to research the dangers of Common Core.

Beyond Bricks BESE candidate forum tonight at Woodlawn High School for district 6

Come out tonight to see me and the 4 other candidates for district 6 battle it out on a stage for your votes for the upcoming October 24 primary election.

Millions of dollars is being spent by PAC’s funded by out of state billionaires like the Waltons and Eli Broad. This may be one of your last chances to hear my vision of what our public education system needs and what we could accomplish without the hedge fund managers that brought about the Great Recession telling us what they think our public education system should look like.

Come support me as I discuss ending Common Core and Louisiana’s obsession with standardized tests we never see or use.

Let’s take back our public education system for our children. I can’t do this without your help and support.

Registration starts at 5:45.
Doors open at 6:00.
Event is scheduled intil 7:30 but I will be around before and after to talk to voters and provide campaign materials.


Jason France

Forum Registration Link

BESE Campaign News as of 9/28/15

I want to apologize to my regular readers of the blog.  I have been remiss with  my postings of late and there are a lot of great stories to write about.  However one of the biggest potential stories is the campaign I am working on now, my own, and it’s been keeping me very busy.

Some curious and wonderful events have transpired that most of you are not aware.  For starters I made my candidacy to BESE official.  I am on the October 24th ballot.  That’s just 4 weeks away folks.

In addition the incumbent, Chas Roemer, announced at the last minute (during the qualifying period) that he would not be seeking re-election for a third term.  This announcement was made a few hours after I registered my candidacy.  I’m not sure if the two are related, but I like to think so.  I have not been easy on Chas these last few years and I had plenty of material I was saving up to use on him in the primary had he chosen to run.

This last minute announcement of the incumbent not seeking re-election lured three new challengers to the race for district 6.  One of these challengers is backed by business and industry and Roemer.  All three are relative unknowns, just as myself and my original campaigning counterpart.

This race could be very interesting.  District 6 is a very conservative district by the numbers, by the way it was gerrymandered, although not all parishes and people are aligned that way. Public sentiment is very anti-common core, especially among conservatives, and I was one of the very first people in our state to speak out against Common Core publicly, and certainly the first person in my race.

In addition, a new group called “FlipBESE” has formed with parent activists across the state which has honored me with their endorsement.  FlipBESE has endorsed a candidate in every race in the state which is a stark contrast to the incumbent or challenger supported by the business and industry lobby “LABI”.  This year there is a unified message and slate of challengers to the business and vendor sponsored status quo and most races are head-to-head match-ups and with only one party on the ballot (Republican or Democrat.)

My race is the exception and will be one of the few requiring a run-off.  My race has 5 candidates.  Four candidates are Republicans and one candidate is a Libertarian.  The Libertarian candidate happens to be me.

My platform is to remove the destructive influence of the state and federal government and to restore our local education systems to our local governments.  Our state and federal governments don’t have a clue what’s going on in our schools, and they don’t seem to care.  Rather than working with children and parents they prefer to work with numbers and percentages.  They impose unjust and unreasonable burdens on our local systems at the behest of lobbyists and politicians far removed from our children and our communities.  I believe we need to limit their influence to whatever extent we can.  BESE is charged with overseeing the state department of Education, and as a BESE member I aim to turn the department around to have a look at itself, and what it is doing wrong, and to leave our local districts alone.

Rather than the top down, authoritarian approach to education that has led us down a road of ruin, I will encourage a collaborative one, where school districts tell the state what they believe works and what they think they need in terms of support.

We have delivered hundreds of signs and push cards to our supporters.  After making those purchases and the qualifying fee we are running low on funding and could use all the help you can spare.  If you planned to donate to the campaign, but were just waiting for the right time to do it, now is that time.  We won’t be able to efficiently and effectively spend money in the days before the election, so any last minute mailings or PR needs to be planned and purchased ASAP.

Thank you to everyone for your continued support (verbal, financial and volunteer work.)  We would not have made it this far without you, and now we are in the final stretch.  We actually have a pretty decent shot of making the run-off and winning this contest.  Please do what you can, especially if you live in district 6 or have have friends or relatives that do.

Jason France

Below are the links to volunteer or contribute:

Louisiana Charters Are by Far the Worst According to 2011 8th-grade NAEP Anaysis

People take John White and LDOE at their word that RSD is doing outstanding. Independent analysis continues to show otherwise. RSD is not a separate agency from LDOE, it is a part of it.

We would never consider taking a teacher’s word, alone, as proof they were the best teacher in the state. We don’t let principals evaluate their schools for us and tell us how great they are or if they are struggling. We don’t let any other districts in the state evaluate themselves except RSD, which is always self-evaluated as outstanding and revolutionary, every year. Yet even with all these “vast improvements” it still ranks at the bottom of our state by just about any positive metric you can find. And that, my friends, is before we even touch on all the scams they pull like exiting 10% more of their 9th grade cohorts out of the country than the sister, parish run district, colocated in New Orleans. That means that their grade rates, which are worst in the state, are a minimum of 10% lower than they’ve claimed. If a 50% graduation rate is what you are looking for, then RSD might be for you. It will cost you though. In the first years after the storm per pupil amounts were more than 4 times the average per pupil amount in the state.

deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog

One of the primary problems with Louisiana’s state-run, all-charter Recovery School District (RSD) is that the same state that is in control of data (and the official word on its data) is also committed to representing its state-run district in the best light.

For this reason, independent analysis of data on Louisiana’s schools is particularly valuable, especially when the researchers are able to procure data independently of the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE).

Such is the case of an analysis of student-level eighth-grade 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data by two researchers from the University of Arizona, Francesca Lopez and Amy Olson. The Lopez-Olson analysis is featured in this Network for Public Education (NPE) policy brief. Specifically, Lopez and Olson compared traditional public schools to see what notable differences there might be between charters and traditional schools on eighth-grade 2011 NAEP outcomes.

Lopez and Olson’s analysis of charters…

View original post 1,128 more words

Hurricane Katrina Truths

The success of schools in New Orleans is more fiction than fact.  People in the United States prefer stories with a positive ending, where the good guys win, challenges are face head-on and overcome, and everyone lives happily ever after.  For too many kids in New Orleans, this is not the truth.

The improved matriculation rate is almost entirely due to using a new matching file.  You will see that over time this rate will no longer increase  The old rate did not include all Louisiana colleges or any out of state colleges.  You will see the largest increases in the better schools – because their best students were going out of state to flee the disaster that Bobby Jindal has made our Higher Education System into.  For now, this number has served its purpose by making many of you think New Orleans (and Louisiana for that matter) has achieved a miracle under John White.

The Recovery School District has been exiting as many as 18% of their 9th grade cohorts out of state or country.  This removes them from being calculated in School Performance scores, removes the impact of them actually dropping out, and raises graduation rates.  This rate has been steadily increasing for years to show increased performance to impress folks out of state looking to implement an RSD type solution.

The New Orleans system is divided between haves and have-nots.  The selective admission system has grown and done well.  The RSD competes not on quality but fancy advertising to draw new students – according to a survey of their own principals.

The population of New Orleans has changed.  It is less poor than prior to the storm as many of the poorest families were unable to return because they lacked the resources or any suitable housing.  There are no more housing projects in New Orleans and a lot less low income housing.  Comparing the two populations is not appropriate if you recognize poverty as a factor impacting performance.  By bringing up the poverty level of New Orleans in a recent op-ed, John White clearly does.

State Standardized Test Scores have been lowered by as much as 15% to improve the performance of RSD.  In other words, a student performing at Basic required 15% fewer correct answers than prior to John White’s arrival to achieve a “Basic” score, or about 40% of the material on our LEAP and iLEAP tests.

T (turnaround) schools occur every year and these schools do not appear in the “official statistics.  There is a perpetual population of students getting shuffled around and not being counted or considered in the success or failure of New Orleans schools.

Families often do not get their “choice”.  The choice selection is made by a computer program, not families.  Often the children are placed at schools very far away and require hours of busing to and from school.  Families with multiple children often find their children assigned to schools on opposite sides of the city making parental participation a nightmare or all but impossible.  Some parents report waking their kids up at 4am to get them ready for a bus that won’t bring them home until 7 at night – when there is only time for homework, a bite to eat, maybe a bath, and bed.  This forced separation destroys families.  Families that don’t like the choices assigned to them have the option of standing out unsheltered in the 100+ degree heat to try and make changes.  Thousands of families are forced to do this every year while Recovery School District Staff lounge in their luxury, climate controlled, downtown offices across from the Superdome.

Can you handle the truth?

Network for Public Education Endorses Jason France for Louisiana BESE

For those of you who didn’t already know, I received a very treasured set of endorsements today by NPE (The Network for Public Education) and legendary education champion Diane Ravitch, as well as my great friends and allies Dr. (and teacher blogger and author) Mercedes Schneider and New Orleans education activist Karran Harper Royal.

I am very proud and honored to receive this, and it could not have come at a better time.

Please take the time to read this and pass it along to your friends and family.

Diane Ravitch's blog

In the last two state board elections in Louisiana, millions of dollars flowed to candidates from corporate reformers, mostly from out of state. They elected board members who support privatization and high-stakes testing. Now the people of Louisiana have a chance to elect Jason France, a oublic school parent who knows the inner workings of the state education department (having worked there). Jason needs every dollar he can raise to win. If you want to help him, his website is I debated his opponent, Chas Roemer, a few years ago in Lafayette, Louisiana, and found him to be a true believer in vouchers, charters, letter grades for schools, and high-stakes accountability for teachers.

The Network for Public Education is proud to endorse Jason France for Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), District 6. Jason France, also know as the education blogger Crazy Crawfish, is a former Louisiana…

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Now this is more like it. . . Blogging to Victory!

I want to thank all of my new and return supporters who came through last night.  As a result of your generosity I pulled in an additional $500 in donations and pledges.  I also picked up two new volunteers I hope to be able to leverage.  This phenomenon, and some recent conversations I’ve had with constituents and supporters, triggered some thoughts. . .

People need something to serve as a conversation starter about education issues with their friends and neighbors.  In some cases it might be a sign, or a pushcard sitting on a table, in other cases it might be an email or post about what is going on with Louisiana in terms of public education, and what we can do to fix it.

For quite a few months I’ve abandoned my blog in favor of face to face meetings and behind the scenes planning sessions.  Those will be ongoing, but I realize I’ve been sitting on my primary resource for reaching voters and impacting change, my blog.  I listened to a lot of political consultants and enemies who claimed fundraising could not be accomplished from online contributions, and that blogs are only read by a small subset of the electorate and the vast majority don’t know what’s going on and can be easily swayed by simple messages and false promises and propaganda.  As it was put to me by one of our chief opposition leaders – and I’m paraphrasing only slightly based on questions I put to them and their answers:

“…whomever has the most money to get their message out is the winner in this day and age.  It doesn’t really matter what your message is, who you are, what you record is, or what you stand for.  Right and wrong doesn’t matter.  Truth can be bought.  All the messages are lies and the best politicians are the best liars.  To win you just want to be the best funded one.”

Maybe this is true?  This election will provide some evidence to verify this claim or refute it.

The truth is our schools are under siege by the Louisiana Department of Education, it’s unqualified and callous leader, John White, and his cadre of inexperienced minions.  Anyone who raises and objection or steps out of line is punished by a department that is driving our education system into the ground with its junk analytics and criminally disruptive policies.  

I don’t want you to take my word for it.  Please go ask your neighbors, your local school board members, your local superintendents, your principals.  Ask them off the record, where other ears cannot hear.  You might just get some truth and begin to understand the depth of the problems we face and get a glimpse of the tyranny of the Louisiana Department of Education.

This agency needs a new leader, many new leaders in fact.  It needs a new direction and ethos based on support, encouragement and collaboration, not the masochistic punishment based system riddled with tragically flawed “metrics” that prey disproportionately on the weakest members of our society, our poorest children, our children with disabilities, our children that need the most support and guidance and get the least under the guise of “choice” and “accountability”.

If you believe as I do, that John White should be fired and the LDOE restructured to support our schools, school districts, parents and teachers please consider passing along this post, making a donation or volunteering to help.

My campaign website is

donations can be made

write me at

To find out which district you are in and which candidate you should support to protect our schools, teachers, and children please visit:FlipBESE