How John White Will Use His Own Failures to Sink Governor Elect John Bel Edwards (If he stays on)

I have been writing for years about the numerous ways John White has been lying about the “progress” his agenda has brought the state of Louisiana.  White has inflated the graduate rate, inflated the matriculation rate, depressed the dropout counts, flipped the LEAP and End of Course test scores to show Louisiana students are doing better,  while they are actually doing much worse, sheltered RSD and charter schools from investigations, wiped out the Special Education department and forced his employees to commit fraud to keep their jobs on a routine basis and violated federal laws and policies in regards to funding allocations, shared data illegally with third party vendors and researchers that only favor his agenda while withholding data from independent researchers (for years) costing the state many thousands of dollars in litigation fees.  These are just a few of the underhanded and unethical practices John White has engaged in on a regular basis.  White even has one of his former lieutenants in place on the State’s board of Elementary and Secondary Education.  All of this bodes ill for John Bel if he is not able to remove John White promptly, and properly audit, recalculate and re-report the previous years’ fraudulently prepared education data.

John White has quietly amassed an enormous power base in Louisiana.  He has legislators, superintendents, super Pacs, LABI (Louisiana Association of Business and Industry run by a Grigsby figurehead), APEL  a pseudo teachers union run by a LABI/Grigsby promoted figurehead, The Times Picayune editorial board, The Advocate editorial board and management, Teach for America (who also has a BESE member, Kira Orange Jones that will support White unquestioningly), Stand for Children (run by a former White/LDOE staffer) ,CABL, BAEO (run by a former White/LDOE staffer), DFER (Democrats for Education Reform), and Lane Grigsby in his back pocket. That’s just to name of few of his instate supporter power players and organizations.

White also has the ability to draw down millions of dollars from out of state ed reform minded billionaires to wage war on John Bel Edwards on his behalf.  Billionaires like Michael Bloomberg, Eli Broad, Jim and Alice Walton, that spent millions defaming BESE candidates across the state (for unpaid positions) in the recent elections.  Unless John Bel wants to turn his entire education agenda over to these groups, he will be unendingly assailed by them throughout his term.  He will probably be attacked even then because:

  • LABI would like to find a way to remove him and put someone loyal to them on every issue.
  • John Bel have to renege on his promises to do something about John White, Common Core, and the corruptions and malfeasance at LDOE.

The latter would alienate many of the folks  I rallied to support him based on the belief JBE would have our backs.

LABI and these other groups would still angle to remove John Bel with outrageous lies and misrepresentations, like they did for so many of the BESE candidates in the last elections.

The most diabolical aspect of this is; John White could simply agree to everything John Bel asks him to do, he could cooperate in every way, and he could even release the actual data starting from day one of John Bel’s term.  Unfortunately, this would prove disastrous.

John White has built an enormous and unfounded success data bubble.  If this pops only during John Bel’s term in office, and the scores are not properly recalculated for previous years, it will be an easy claim to make and support, that:

  • John Bel ruined education in Louisiana.

I expect White and his staff, along with Lane Grigsby and Bridgette Nieland with LABI, are working on some plan like this right now at LDOE to propose to John Bel and his leadership team.

This will be a poisoned olive branch, much like the Common Core compromise turned out to be for actual anti-Common Core BESE candidates this fall.  LABI’s candidates also claimed to be against Common Core, and for Louisiana Standards.  They sent out mailers proudly proclaiming their disdain for Common Core, support for high standards, and embracement of the Common Core compromise.  Some BESE candidates, like the re-elected Holly Boffy, even ludicrously claimed to have led the fight against Common Core, while actually getting paid by CCSSO to support and promote it as a paid consultant.

Truth has no meaning to these people.  Lane Grigsby actually met with me and told me he was tired of all the education politics and was going to be sitting out getting heavily involved this year.  Instead he raised millions of dollars to launch misleading, continuous, and deceitful attack ads on his opponents while also donating and having all of his friends and family donate the maximum allowable amount to the candidates he supported.  Based on the similarity of all the produced commercials and mailouts for all 9 candidates he supported it is very likely he had a hand in running both candidates actual campaigns as well as the Super Pac that also promoted them.  This type of coordination is theoretically a no-no, but I have yet to hear of anyone ever sanctioned in any way for doing this.

I would recommend getting knowledgable and outspoken critics of John White and Common Core placed on the board as his appointees – from different political parties.  Fortunately there are quite a few great candidates for these jobs available – still sore from the lies John White and his allies used to assail them.  Motivation for counter-attacking and applying pressure to John White should not be an issue for these folks, as they already have lengthy track records in putting  students, teachers and parents before corporations and firsthand experience at how these shady folks work. I would also recommend putting someone like me in charge of education policy or LDOE’s IT department, which is now a division of DOA and not beholden to John White – thanks to Jindal’s statewide IT reorganization.  The governor has complete authority over DOA.  Once John White is removed, most of his unclassified executive staff should be jettisoned as well.  I would also recommend putting someone in charge of RSD who is not Patrick Dobard or his second in command.  I have had reports that Dobard’s mission is to acquire as many schools from as many districts as quickly as possible so they can be turned over to charter operators.  He has even expressed dismay when traditional public schools run by local school districts improve, because that puts a wrench in his plan to acquire them.  John White’s and Patrick Dobard’s mission is to eventually take over all public schools in Louisiana and run them from a statewide agency as a charter portfolio.

Baton Rouge is actually slated to be their next target for mass charter invasion and takeover.  It has been reported to me that before Edwards assumes office, on the December 2nd 2015 agenda, BESE is expected to vote to approve New Schools for Baton Rouge (run by a former LDOE executive staffer) as a type B1 charter authorizer.  This means the state board will vote to completely bypass local EBR school board authority in charter decisions and hand it over to a private, unelected organization to approve as many charter schools as they want, anywhere in the city, as New Schools for New Orleans does in New Orleans.  Next up will be New Schools for Lafayette, New Schools for Lake Charles, New Schools for Shreveport, and finally New Schools for Louisiana as they finally bypass local school boards entirely.

These folks never sleep.  It is important to get ground game going as soon as possible, because 4 years will go by before you know it.


Kathy Edmonston Needs Your Vote

Tomorrow Louisiana goes to the polls to elect their new Governor, Lieutenant Governor, but also BESE members for districts 6 and 4.

Kathy Edmonston is running to represent the people and children of district 6.

Her opponent, Jason Engen, is running to represent business and industry, as he explained in his own words.

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.

And business and industry are supporting Engen to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, most of which is used to smear his opponent and to mislead the public about his views.  Engine claims he is against Common Core and for local control.  Engen even claims he wants to reject the status quo in his advertisements, but when you ask him what that means. . .

The Hayride asked Engen what are the major issues he was running on in this campaign. “To me the most important one is we’ve seen some reforms kick in over the last few years that I think we need to maintain and to the extent possible we need to maintain.” said Engen.

. . . it means maintain the status quo . A status quo that has seen our NAEP scores plummet for the first time in more than 20 years.  A status quo that doesn’t only promote, but even worships Common Core and embraces all of its glaring flaws as “rigor”.

To Jason Engen, local control means forcing Common Core and PARCC tests upon homeschool parents.

The Hayride asked Engen about homeschooling and whether he supported further regulating them. While he supports homeschooling, he supports subjecting them to high standards similiar to what public and private schools are subjected it.

Jason Engen contacted me via text message last month because he wanted to complain about my blog posts about him.  At that time I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions.  Some he answered and vehemently denied, some he chose not to answer.  I will leave you to determine what that means.

Did Grigsby promise to pay for your kids to go to private school if you do his bidding? I know he told you that John White stays, regardless of what he’s done. . . [Me]

Have a good day.  The point was to leave each other’s kids out of it. [Engen]

Will there be magical scholarships from a mysterious benefactor?  You will be ruining public schools so you won’t want to send your kids there under your “leadership” [me]

Just tell me  he didn’t make White’s staying a condition of his support.  When he brags about it to folks later it might make you look bad. . . [me]

Engen’s backers are intent upon taking rights away from parents and destroying public schools.  Based on his ethics report filings Engen does not seem to make enough money to enroll his 3 children in private school by his this wife, and 4th child by an earlier wife, on his lone salary.  (His current wife does not work.)  Engen’s primary benefactor of both his campaign and the SuperPac that supports him is Cajun Industries CEO and LABI chairman, Lane Grigsby, whom I spoke with earlier this year.

Lane explained to me at that time that he was a great champion of  poor kids and that he “personally paid for a number of scholarships for those people that can’t seem to take care of those kids they keep making” to attend private schools.  In his opinion this meant he cared more about education than anyone else and he must be making the right decisions for the right reasons about education.

I figured, what would a few more scholarships be to a guy who pays for so many already?  But Engen refused to respond to this question so I left him with these thoughts and a promise.

I know this is all fun and games and career advancement opportunities to you, but you are not leaving my kids out of it.  Supporting this agenda, driving off their teachers, bankrupting their school district, forcing ridiculous PARCC tests down their throats. That pisses me off.  That pisses a lot of people off.  You have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into, but I think you may very well find out Saturday night. [Me]

Don’t expect me or other parents to ever stop defending our kids from you and your ignorance and recklessness. [Me]

Kathy Edmonston needs your vote to send a message to all the Engen’s and Grigsby’s out in the world that some of us can’t be bought.

Kathy needs your vote to protect our children and save our schools.

Kathy needs your vote to be one of our lone voices on BESE.

Please do what you can tomorrow to ensure Kathy wins and Engen fades back into obscurity.

Your vote tomorrow is what I expect at the very least. But what we need is for you to make sure all of your friends and relatives vote for Kathy tomorrow too.  Please do your part to help Kathy.  Help us defeat those like Engen, who will trample on our rights and do irreparable harm to our children and communities in the years to come.

We need you.

(P.S.  if you live in district 4, the Caddo/Shreveport area, please do the same to help Mary Harris. Her opponent, Tony Davis, is every bit as deceitful as Engen and we need them both on BESE to replace the great champions for public education and Louisiana children, Carolyn Hill and Lottie Bebee, that we lost in October.)



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.


What’s Wrong with Education in Louisiana and Some Ideas On How to Fix it

Louisiana Voters,


A few months ago I had a meeting with Lane Grigsby about my candidacy for BESE.

For those of you who don’t know, Grigsby is one of the chief funders of the education reform movement in Louisiana. Investigative journalist Lee Zurik did a multi-segment story on corruption in Louisiana politics called Louisiana Purchased, and he discovered that Grigsby, owner of Cajun Industries and one of the chief supporters of LABI (the pro-privatization business lobby) was one of the most prolific funders of political candidates in Louisiana and was able to bypass many of the individual spending limits by having family members, PACs he formed, and as many as 17 companies he owned or controlled donate the maximum allowable amount to candidates he was supporting.


I wasn’t seeking funding. I was seeking some understanding of why he was getting involved in education and why he held the stands and beliefs he did. (Grigsby apparently didn’t know who I was which is why he agreed to meet with me. I knew I was diametrically opposed to him on almost every issue.)


While we disagreed on almost everything in our meeting, Lane brought up a very important point that I was overlooking.

“Besides kicking out John White, what are you actually going to do to improve education in Louisiana?”

My focus had been on fighting the BESE board, LDOE, and returning ownership of the public education system to the people of Louisiana.  I hadn’t really considered what I would do if I was placed in a position where I could actually work to improve things!

For the past two months I have been doing much less talking and writing and much more listening and analyzing.  This is probably not going to win me more votes, but getting elected is not really the most important thing, is it?  Improving our education system and the outcomes of our children and thus the future of our people and our state is a much more important long-term goal.

Win or lose the upcoming election, I believe I’ve already accomplished my short-term mission of showing how ordinary people can get involved with their government to try and make things better.


But let’s get back to the whole improving education part.


Despite all the “reforms” Louisiana has undertaken over the past decade our outcomes really haven’t improved all the much, now have they?

10 years ago Louisiana was in a 5 way tie for 44th place (out of 52 States + DC + territories) on the NAEP exam for 4th grade Mathematics. (NAEP is a long term national test used for comparing states to each other and to themselves longitudinally.


For a snapshot of what this lack of growth looks like over time, refer to the chart below. Notice how the gap between Louisiana and the rest of the country has only widened under the current administration and their misguided policies.


In 2013, Louisiana was just 2 tenths of one point (out of 500), ahead of Mississippi. We’ve actually lost a lot of ground compared to other states, despite the continuous claims of success issued by Lousiana’s state Education Board, Governor Jindal – now finishing up the 8th year of his term consecutive terms and running for President, and the Louisiana Department of Education – which both implemented the reforms and then internally evaluated itself on them. When the 2015 NAEP scores are released I expect Louisiana will have finally accomplished the unthinkable, allowing Mississippi to pass us up and thereby becoming the lowest academically performing state in the nation. That will be quite a first.

All of this lack of progress was achieved despite numerous reformers we were promised would work, and are continuously told are working – based on internal metrics the LDOE manipulates every year internally to collect kudos for their achievement and to buy more time for their allies in the private sector that many top executives at LDOE have previously worked for, or hope to work for someday.

Over the past decade we were told:

  1. Charter schools will solve everything with market driven incentives! 
    1. Charter have some anecdotal success, but many perform much worse than the public schools the replace.
    2. More than 10% of our students are enrolled in charter schools.
    3. Either the presence of charter schools are driving down the performance of traditional schools
    4. Or charter schools are performing so poorly they are offsetting the gains of traditional schools.
    5. The “best” charter schools by test scores, are usually simply the best at keeping the wealthiest students and most involved families engaged.  This is why Charter Schools USA and National Heritage Academies build new schools in brand new secluded and pricy subdivisions like and refuse to provide busing.
    6. Lafayette illustrates another facet of charter behavior: the bait and switch. Charters are advertised as a way to help out or replace struggling schools. Lafayette Parish, one of the top school districts in the state, had some schools in poorer areas that were not performing well.
      1. “However, the shiny new schools were built about as far away from the poorest communities as they could be. Charter Schools USA opened up two charters in new housing developments named Sugar Pond Mills and Couret Farms, which sell new shotgun-style houses on small lots of land for as much as half a million dollars each.
      2. These schools are theoretically open to the entire state, but do not provide transportation. They also require many hours of “service” from parents. Service time increases per child enrolled. Charter schools offer enrollment to all children on paper, but in the real world they do whatever they can to keep out the riffraff.”
      3. See more at:
    7. This results in less diversity in our public schools, fewer schools with motivated or engaged parents and students.  No doubt this will help some, but help all?  Over the long term this has caused our state’s performance to stagnate or even decline. We already have some elite schools like Benjamin Franklin and Baton Rouge High.  This trend is likely to create a few more of those elite schools, and many, many, more subpar schools that are recycled through new charter operators every few years.
  1. Common Core’s high standards will push kids to try harder! “We’ve been too easy on those pipsqueaks up to now, but with more rigor and higher expectations comes unprecedented success!   If we just “believe” in our children, they will do better.
    1. To drive home this message the Louisiana Department of Education even changed its homepage and signature to this motto, “Louisiana Believes.”
    2. Honestly, does anyone really think the only thing that has been holding us back all these years is simply a lack of believing?
    3. We had the second or third highest standards in the nation prior to Common Core was adopted in 2010, and we ranked second from last in achievement.  Massachusetts had the highest standards and they ranked first in achievement.
      1. There is very little correlation between standards and achievement any more than there is a significant correlation between charter schools, vouchers, choice, and achievement.
      2. There is, however, a strong correlation between achievement and poverty.
        1. Our poorest schools have our lowest School Performance Scores and our schools with the fewest poor children have our highest SPS scores.
        2. This is generally the same situation across the nation and as a result the community schools of the poorest children are the ones inordinately impacted by school takeovers and privatization – with no discernable positive impact in performance for the community as a whole.
  1. Unions and their bloodsucking ways are the monkeys on the backs of our children and impediment to performance because they protect so many bad, lazy teachers. 
    1. Having inordinately powerful unions does not appear to be an important factor in terms of student achievement.
    2. However strong unions are a significant impediment to privatization which is why charter groups and their supporters like Stand for Children, and temp teacher providers like Teach For America advocate for policies that weaken unions and grant them greater market access.)
      1. Louisiana has relatively weak unions; Massachusetts has some of the strongest, if not the strongest, and is also one of the highest achieving states.
      2. You might even make the case that stronger unions build better outcomes for students.
        1. I won’t do that because I think it is not the most significant factor, not something Louisiana would accept culturally, and not an outcome one can influence directly very easily or very quickly.
  1. All Louisiana needs is some real “accountability.”  If we hold lazy teachers and crappy schools accountable they will know we mean business and work harder.  If they don’t we’ll take em over and the next guy will work harder. 
    1. We’ve increased testing and “Accountability” impacts for schools and school districts steadily over the last 15 years.
    2. Whether you believe it or not, every Superintendent of Education manipulates the outcomes of these results (although White is the most egregious) to show they are doing a good job.
      1. The scoring should be handled outside of LDOE by an independent auditor no matter who is in charge to prevent political interference on the outcomes –  if we’re serious about these scores being meaningful.
  1. We live in the technology age but somehow we haven’t inserted data ports directly into children’s brains to upload everything they need to succeed.  Before we do that, let’s give them all laptops and see if that does anything. 
    1. Giving laptops to every child helps Apple and Dell meet their sales quotas, but we aren’t boosting our scores or outcomes dramatically with these devices.
    2. Often these devices become a distraction, toy, or massive headache for IT departments to maintain and replace.
    3. Universal laptops or ipads are not a one-time cost, but a massive permanent cost.
  1. Having more recruits from elite universities become teachers will fundamentally transform the teaching profession into a more professional and respected calling.
    1. All too often these temporary teachers from glorified staffing agencies like Teach For America, City Year, and The New Teacher Project are ill prepared with 5 week training courses on how to teach.
    2. Their presence has had the exact opposite effect. Teaching has become less respected because people are led to believe anyone can become a teacher with a 5 week training course.
    3. The vast majority of these recruits are gone in 5 years, most after the first 2 years. This leads to greater instability and turmoil in districts already experiencing turmoil.
    4. The temporary presence of students from elite universities hasn’t really improved teaching overall, but it has led to a dramatic increase in education startups and new crop of education leaders.
      1. TFA Leaders like John White and Kevin Hoffman primarily hire likeminded TFA recruits and drive off local talent and experienced personnel.
      2. While these folks are usually very smart and committed, they are not better than the experienced teachers they displace or drive off
    5. Even if we wanted to replace every teacher with TFA, The New Teacher Project, or City Year recruits the supply cannot outstrip the demand. This is leading us to become dependent on an outside constant influx of new teachers and leading to shortages of experienced teachers and talent within our state.

Will collecting zillions of points of bio-metric data be the silver bullet we were waiting for? 

Will providing data to third party vendors (and hackers) help our children learn faster?

If these ideas were the panacea we were looking for it certainly would be convenient for a lot of folks; primarily the ones selling these ideas or products.

The truth is, to overcome the impacts of our entrenched generational poverty will require a lot of work from a lot of folks and a lot less “believing” and hoping and standard raising.  If a kid can’t reach the monkey bars, moving them two feet higher won’t help.  If kids can’t read, giving them even harder books and more tests to show they can’t read, won’t make them read more proficiently.  What I found helps my kids is when an adult (or child) lifts them up to where they can reach those monkey bars and feel comfortable hanging from them.

Kids want to achieve, but most don’t want to be overly frustrated or reminded of their failures, or how other kids are far ahead of them, constantly. 

Our schools have been plagued for many years by poverty, apathy, and acceptance.   In many parts of the state we have allowed our schools and systems to fall into disarray.

Our more affluent parents have abandoned the schools and they have taken their resources and parental involvement with them.  Out of these ashes we’ve had some outstanding new school districts form with the backing of their communities, like Central and Zachary. (Obviously Baker is still a problem.)

However the solution is not having the state/RSD come in and take control from the locals or chartering the school to a company based out of New York or Michigan.  Rather than simply punishing low performance or problems, and completely pushing the locals out of the way, we need to work with these folks and help guide support them.  This is what the LDOE used to do when our scores were going up – serving in an advisory and support capacity. This is what we need to do resume our climb from the performance dungeon the education reform movement has commissioned us to – while they drained our coffers dry.

In New Orleans we have many local communities seeking to have their schools returned to them, like the perpetual failure John McDonogh.

Rather than ignore and disregard these folks the state needs to embrace them and their efforts.

We won’t have successful community schools without the community.  We have mobilized communities in many parts of the state. This BESE and LDOE ignores them, mocks them and alienates them.

Many public school parents of means are taking their kids out of public schools to homeschool them.

Those are not victories, but tragic losses we must reverse now, before it’s too late!

Some of you folks on BESE and the House and Senate Education Committees might consider the people showing up to BESE meetings and Education hearings and giving you guys a hard time are the problem, but that is exactly backwards! They are exactly the folks you want on your side.  They have energy and passion and care about their school systems, their children, and their neighbors children.  You won’t be able to fix the schools from the outside if you don’t include the parents and community members on the inside. The few token parents Stand For Children busses in for meetings (and buys lunch for) don’t really count.

BESE members Chas Roemer and Jim Garvey doodle on their cell phones when parents are speaking to them about their troubles and problems.  They ignore criticism and different points of view and evidence that is contrary to their pre-determined stands.  BESE members Holly Boffy and Kira Orange Jones rarely speak and represent the CCSSO and TFA respectively as their full time jobs so they owe their allegiance not to our state or people, but to their employers.

Many of the folks driving education reform have serious conflicts of interest or ulterior motives.

  • Charter schools and technology vendors are going to tell you they are the solution.
  • Test vendors are going to tell you the only thing that you need is more tests with more details.
  • John White is going to tell you he needs more of all these folks because they represent future job opportunities for him.

What we really need doesn’t cost a lot of new money, require fancy new technology, more tests, or more vendors of any type.  We simply need to get back to basics and the three Rs as described two hundred years ago by Sir William Curtis.

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Arithmetic (Reckoning)

Most importantly we need students focusing on improving their reading proficiency and composition abilities. We need to redirect funds from programs we don’t need, that haven’t been proven, or that have been proven not to work, to helping students read more, better, and faster.  This takes practice and finding subjects that interest them.  This takes a time commitment.  This does not require every student to proceed/read at the same pace at the same time.  Student’s should be helped to improve without regard to test scores, without practice tests or test prep which is excessively boring and not conducive to long term learning or retention.

Our children need to learn to read and to be engaged by the material in interesting ways.  We need to eliminate teaching to the test and return to teaching and learning for their own sakes.  This will, as a matter of course, improve test scores.

If children can’t read, can they really understand or learn science, history, economics or civics?  Many of our behavior problems at higher-grade levels are because kids are bored or disengaged because they can’t follow along – because they can’t read or haven’t learned the earlier material.  However when kids have real behavior problems, that are disruptive to the class and school, they need to be removed to allow teachers to teach and other students the opportunity to learn.

Common Core introduced a lot of new “reading” in the math portions, but this is what is giving most children the most trouble.  My daughter was required to read and write for her math homework in first grade when she was still just learning to read and write.  Reading and writing about math problems is not very interesting to a 6 year old.  Common Core (specifically the Tier one Eureka Math LDOE has selected) is trying to address the reading/writing problem in the most frustrating and counter-productive way imaginable to improve children’s reading and writing skills.  Changing an existing standard here and there won’t fix that underlying issue. Revising the entire approach to and eliminating unnecessary frustration is a much greater problem than any individual standard.  The current standards revision process  (that only allows for comment on existing standards) is not likely to address this underlying structural problem.

Common Core does not encourage children to learn on their own, it encourages them to learn only the minimum necessary to pass a test.  The PARCC, Smarter Balanced, and ACT exams do not measure the ability to learn, and thus do not measure potential. As a result of the single-minded approach to improving test scores we are depriving students of the ability and joys of learning for its own sake, and our test scores are not improving.

Louisiana, if you really want to fix education, you need to examine the motivations of folks that are pitching their ideas to you and stay focused on your chief goal – fixing education outcomes and preparing children for a lifetime of learning – rather than being tied down by a single solution, candidate, or ally.

There’s not much money to be made with my solution so I doubt many people will want to buy into it.  However if you would like support me and my vision you will have a chance to vote for me on October 24th.

If you would like to help in a more direct way my campaign website is listed below.

Thank you for you time.

Jason France

2015 Candidate for BESE in district 6


The Louisiana Eureka Rebellion

The Louisiana Eureka Rebellion

Across the state parents and teachers are confronting their school boards and curriculum leaders with the same universal complaint. Eureka Math sucks. (That seems to be a nearly universally agreed upon fact by most parents not paid by LDOE or financially biased Common Core proponents.) Now however, complaints have shifted from the blindly adopted Common Core “standards” to the precise curriculum used to pound those standards into helpless children.

For those of you wondering how we got here, let me give you some backstory. Common Core was adopted sight unseen by Louisiana’s BESE board in in the summer of 2010 at the urging of US DOE and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan before the standards were even finalized later that Fall. Parents were given no education about these changes and no opportunities to review them, comment on them or reject them. One of the only former teachers on the State’s BESE board actually works for CCSSO, one of the two organizations that created these standards. These “Standards” weren’t finalized when they were adopted so no one could research them or review materials that implemented these changes. It took years for these materials to be developed and presented to the public. When they were, many groups in support of these “standards” told parents it was too late to say anything. They had missed their chance to comment; according to Common Core supporters (when there was nothing concrete to comment on.) In the future I imagine this will ensure parents object to all changes; because they won’t get a chance to comment or modify anything later based on their experiences with the Tyrannical implementation of Common Core.

In 2012 and 2013 LDOE directed LEAs to implement Common Core but without any real support or direction. (It was even theorized this was done on purpose.) This lack of direction in the name of “empowering educators” led to much confusion and poor product selections. One of the worst math products LEAs adopted during this time was a “free” math curriculum called EngageNY (Sometimes parodied as EnrageNY because of the trouble it created for New York school districts when they tried to adopt it in their schools.) To use EngageNY one had to print out everything or use it online (which didn’t help much for completing classroom or homework assignments.) Districts that adopted this last year in Louisiana like East Baton Rouge Parish, had to spend loads of cash – and probably burned through plenty of printers and toners cartridges to implement it – and it was not well received. (I actually wrote a little blog post about one of my daughter’s first grade assignments that, for good or ill, is probably my most popular piece to date.)

The commercial version of EngageNY is known as Eureka. In an attempt to address the concerns brought up by me and countless others about the poor roll-out and implementation of Common Core (I actually theorized this was done intentionally and with forethought in this post.) LDOE offered to review all textbooks for the following school year, and make recommendations, out of the kindness of their hearts. . .and for $500 per subject per grade level for most vendors that I have yet to see an accounting of where that money went. This year I’ve been told most publishers are considering refusing to submit their materials to LDOE because of how they were shafted last year. My understanding is the only Tier 1 selections Eureka for Math and Core Knowledge for ELA were exempted from paying the $500 fee per grade level per subject and these two products are linked to our current Superintendent of Education, John White.

This brings us to where we are today. Despite much ado from Governor Bobby Jindal about removing Common Core – which has turned into what kids are calling “Epic Fails” these days – Louisiana finds itself barreling headlong into a full-blown Common Core bonanza. At the forefront if this bandwagon-train is Eureka Math, the top pick of John White and his Teacher leaders and LDOE designated Louisiana Core Advocates which made up most of the selection committees.

These days the only thing that riles up parents more than Common Core is Eureka Math. School Boards across the state are being hammered by parents underwhelmed by the “rigor” of Eureka and overwhelmed by the typos and pointless exercises. I have reports of nearly armed revolts from parents in some of the largest districts in the state that foolishly “Believed” in John White and his Teacher Beliebers.


From a teacher (Crying parents, teachers and kids)

We had an inservice on Eureka Math in Rapides Parish Yesterday (9-29). The teachers had concerns about Eureka, lots of them! We were told by the presenter that they did not want to hear ANY negative comments. There were teachers crying at this meeting. They told us this math was WONDERFUL and that lots of teachers liked it and thought it was great. I really want to see these teachers because I don’t believe they exist. It is like a dictatorship in Rapides Parish. I was so shocked and disgusted that they wouldn’t let us speak that when I left the meeting I called our local news channel and told them about it. I was afraid to give my name, so I didn’t. They are not listening to us and don’t want to hear us. It is so sad. They also told us that we didn’t have to give the test that come with series. We could give a multiple choice test instead. Doesn’t that defeat the point. If this math is so great, why can’t the students pass the end of the module test? It is because they are not conceptually ready for the concepts. It is also crazy because they want the student to “go around the world” to get an answer to a simple problem. They also told us to look at the end of the module test and only teach the standards that are on the test and to teach them as they are presented on the test. Isn’t that teaching the test? I am beyond shocked. Are teachers in other parishes experiencing this too?

From a parent:

I am a Rapides parish parent. My 6th grader is a Magnet student with an impressive record. He boasts only one “C” on his report card in his entire school career, and a high school reading level. You can imagine our shock that he is currently failing math! And he is not alone. According to an administrator, an estimated 25% of his grade at the magnet school is failing math as well. I am hearing horror stories all over the parish! Kids melting down, crying themselves to sleep, hating school (all of these we have personally experienced). We want this curriculum out of our parish, and a group of us intend to petition the board to do so! Can you please tell me which Tier 2 math curriculum EBR switched to? Also, ANY help you can offer in direction for the upcoming school board meeting would be very appreciated! I would like to contact the media. However, the local station is very biased toward the school board. Any suggestions there would be greatly appreciated as well. The teacher from Rapides parish who commented above is NOT exaggerating! I have spoken with high level district personnel who have told me that the school board has no authority in this. The curriculum was chosen by the Superintendent and assistant superintendents out of the need for our students to “be able to pass the statewide assessment at the end of the year”. The entire demeanor of the Rapides parish administration is that they are in control and we need to sit down and shut up. They obviously don’t know me very well…




Over 800 turn out for a town hall to vent their frustrations over Common Core in general and Eureka Math in particular.

Brandi Sharpton, a parent and local high school math teacher, said she has done her best to work with the Common Core standards, but her research and experience tell her she cannot support the initiative. “As an expert in my field and an involved parent, I feel like it’s important for others to hear my opinion,” Sharpton said. “I’m definitely a supporter of raising standards, but raising them this way will only serve to make the gaps bigger and frustration levels higher.”

Sharpton went on to discuss the Eureka Math curriculum, which the Calcasieu Parish School Board adopted this year and the state Department of Education identifies as a superior quality curriculum. She pointed out that, even with a degree in math education, she would spend hours each night trying to determine how to help her second-grade daughter with her math homework.

“My daughter has an excellent teacher and an excellent school, but this curriculum is developmentally inappropriate,” she said. “My child cries almost every night, and I cannot allow this curriculum and these standards to set a negative tone about learning that will affect her for the rest of her life.”

Local fourth-grade teacher Shawna Dufrene agreed with Sharpton. Having taught math for more than ten years, Dufrene said casting Eureka Math as “the Cadillac” of math curricula is wrong. “I can appreciate a Cadillac, but I know a lemon when I buy a lemon,” Dufrene told the panel.

Tiffany Hebert, a parent and former teacher, said in a statement to Breitbart News, “Highly educated parents with graduate and post-graduate degrees should not have to go to ‘Parent University’ to help their elementary kids do math homework.”

I’ve heard a meeting is taking place tonight in Calcasieu where the standard operating procedure by the State seems to be to fill the Board room with Teacher Leaders to support John White’s Eureka agenda by heckling parents trying to testify about their problems. I heard this occurred in St Tammany. I strongly urge supporters of Eureka and Common Core not to do this going forward. Parents and teachers need to work together and that type of behavior will make this a very personal fight that only charter school operators will win.



I received this comment and researched it myself:

Had a conversation with a Caddo elementary principal about the new math curriculum. According to her every school in the parish is struggling with it. Her school is high ranking, with selective admissions and lots of gifted kids, but math is a problem for them this year.

Offline I was informed by multiple sources that Caddo uses straight up photocopied EngageNY, which is Eureka on crutches. I’ve heard from others that their schools are struggling with it. I can easily understand why. Even the trainers LDOE provided at their summer conference to provide professional development struggled with Eureka and even failed to complete their presentations. Wow. I’m not sure how that didn’t make it into the news at the time. . .


St Tammany


In St Tammany there was so much concerted uproar the School Board decided to vote to drop Eureka for next year just 2 months in.

After more than three hours of passionate debate, the St. Tammany Parish School Board voted Thursday night to remove the controversial Eureka Math materials from the district’s classrooms by next school year.

At Thursday’s meeting and a special meeting held last week, a steady stream of parents pleaded with the board to remove Eureka Math from the parish’s math curriculum.

To learn some detailed tips about what dirty tricks transpired at St Tammany’s School Board meetings and how to be aware of them and fight them, please refer to this blog post by ThePeopleLLC.


Eureka is giving a face to the Common Core fight, and it’s not a pretty one. I’ve been asked to make a recommendation, but unlike some folks, I recognize I am unqualified to make that recommendation. Unlike LDOE and a number of members of BESE, I defer to experts in their area of expertise. I rely on teachers with decades of experience to counsel me on education issues. What appears to have happened in Louisiana is that large multi-national corporations told very inexperienced folks like previous Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek with his law degree and zero years of teaching experience and current Superintendent John White with his 2 to 3 years of dubious teaching experience that Common Core was the panacea for all education ills, and they bought into it, with our tax dollars and our children as guinea pigs. (From what I hear, John White has never met an education proposal he hasn’t wanted to spend your money on.) Once they decided what they wanted to do, they simply sought out folks that agreed with them. That’s the exact opposite way to do things, but this is Louisiana, this is Bobby Jindal’s administration, and doing the opposite of what you should be doing seems to be our trademark traditionally and the hallmark of Jindal’s administration. If we learn nothing else from the Common Core and ongoing education reform fiasco, I hope we learn to ask questions and engage parents first. Shooting first, without identifying a target or aiming, is the exact opposite of what we should be doing, although the exact mindset that Louisiana’s first, chief, Common Core adopter – former Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek – worked so diligently to foster at LDOE.

Planning is for no good long-eared varmits! Pow! Pow! Eureka!

Why do I think Bobby Jindal is scamming us with faux Common Core lawsuits?

Why do I think Bobby Jindal is scamming us with faux Common Core lawsuits?

To be quite frank, I did not develop this idea on my own. I was asked whether I thought Jindal’s opposition to Common Core was sincere, and my response at first was “I don’t know, but does it matter?” My thinking being: whether or not Bobby Jindal opposed Common Core for the “right” reasons or for political reasons, was irrelevant. What mattered is that we had a former staunch supporter of the standards publicly recanting his position. I actually think this encouraged a lot of folks in the Anti-Common Core camp, and added to the nationwide movement and impetus to roll back or remove the standards across the nation. Which is great for folks outside of Louisiana, but most public school parents know we are still in a bind. At the end of the day, talk is cheap and therapy and tutoring for 700,000 Louisiana school children won’t be.

Jindal made some moves that seemed to indicate he had genuinely thought deeply about this situation (that he had put us in) and had a thoughtful plan for extricating us from it.

  • Jindal held press conferences denouncing Common Core as a Federal takeover of education
  • Jindal took numerous photo ops surrounded by opponents of Common Core
  • Jindal appointed Jane Smith, a staunch Common Core opponent (one of his three appointees)
  • Jindal (though his surrogates at DOA) declared the contract for the PARCC test invalid for not following proper laws and procedures (although DOA had previously reviewed and okayed this same contract.)
  • Jindal sent a letter to PARCC telling them he was pulling Louisiana out of the testing consortium (something he apparently didn’t have the legal standing to do.)
  • Jindal reduced John White’s purchasing power from 20k to 2 k without prior approval. (Meanwhile John White explained he’d actually been functioning under a 50k limit.)
  • Jindal originally refused to allow BESE to hire a lawyer/law firm to being suit against him (but did allow a law firm connected to LDOE, TFA, and Reformers to bring suit against him on constitutional grounds and allowed BESE to sign on as a party to this suit without repercussions for his other two appointed BESE members.)
  • Jindal appointed Jimmy Faircloth (a chief campaign donor who has never won a constitutional education case for the administration) to “defend” him from the lawsuit brought by Common Core supporters to allow Louisiana to purchase the PARCC test.
  • Jindal brought forth a federal lawsuit against the Obama administration over the constitutionality of Race to the Top funding tied to Common Core and PARCC testing in relation to a 17 million dollar grant Louisiana eventually one in the third round of RTTT


All of these things sound positive, but the net effect to date has been nothing but jawing on national television, more photo ops and newspaper stories, more lawsuits, and chaos in the classrooms and homes. Common Core is more entrenched in Louisiana than ever.


Sadly I have detected a waning in interest in Common Core forums among opponents. I’d diagnose this as a blend of fatigue, resignation, and perhaps a yearning for eventual victory that has sapped the life from folks and the movement locally. Many are waiting to see how this develops. I don’t blame them. I was watching too. I fear this that is exactly what Jindal’s opposition was intended to do. Jindal inserted himself at the head of the angry mob of parents and teachers opposed to Common Core. He took up our banner (but with what appears to be a rubber pitchfork) and has led us in direction after direction; telling us he has a plan; urging us to follow his lead.


He is leading us through blind alleys and into dead ends, folks.


I was warned something like this was going to happen numerous times by insiders. Here’s an excerpt from one person I received in April.

I’ve watched with interest this whole story about Common Core tests the last few days.  I have been on the inside of the political circle.  I would bet my life on this.  Bobby Jindal, John White, and Chas Roemer came up with this strategy months ago.  Saying Jindal wants out — but White and Roemer have to sign withdrawal allows Jindal to be perceived as far right — less federal oversight, etc. — poising him for his presidential campaign.   But it also keeps Common Core testing alive in Louisiana.

I’ve had numerous other conversations with different folks on the inside, but this one sums the situation up very nicely. Every day I fear more and more that they were right.

This isn’t just some random guy like me speculating . . . this is someone that works with these characters and knows how they work. So let’s examine some of the signals and moves that don’t make sense if you were really trying to eliminate Common Core, and not simply trying to make a lot of noise about eliminating it.

  • If Jindal really wanted out way back in April, when he first started making noise, why didn’t he talk to any of his handpicked and appointed legislators?
  • Why did Jindal wait until after the legislative session was completely over in June to hold his press conference about getting Louisiana out of Common Core?
  • Jindal has folks all over the legislature keeping an eye on bills and people, but anyone with a half hour and a black and white TV set could have seen the hundreds of parents being marginalized day after day while bill after bill to put the brakes on Common Core was shot down. The only indication that he was for any of these bills to remove Common Core were a few random support cards, but no one from his administration chose to speak or make a statement. In fact, even though those opportunities were offered to them they declined.
  • Unless I am mistaken (admittedly it’s been a while since I looked), every BESE member that is for Common Core (except maybe Walter Lee) received maximum contributions from the Jindal campaign in the last BESE election. 2 of Jindal’s 3 BESE appointees are adamantly for it. Why has Jindal not asked them to resign (and appoint two folks that would shift the tide 6 v 5 if swing voter Walter Lee could be brought on board); if he really believes Common Core is an unconstitutional federal takeover of education as he has asserted in his recent lawsuit against the federal government?
  • I think that last point should get two bullets, because. . . Seriously? Is he really keeping his appointees, Judith Muranti and Connie Bradford, onboard to represent his interests when he believes they are actively violating the Constitution of the United States and depriving Louisiana citizens of their Constitutional rights? And he wants to be President or even just a national figure??? You would think removing folks Jindal himself appointed on his state board of education, or even just calling for their resignation, would be a much more efficient and effective move than literally making a federal case out of this. It’s not like that would even be a new thing. Jindal did that before, with former Jindal appointee Tammie McDaniel, when she voted a way he didn’t like on a simple funding issue. But Jindal has said nothing and done nothing to his appointees violating the US Constitution and voting to sue him directly for violating Louisiana’s Constitution stating he has been disruptive and destructive. (He has of course, but his own appointees should not be saying that and retaining their positions if he is at all serious about his opposition to Common Core.) You would also think Jindal would have some influence over all the other members he donated to and brought to power.


But the truth is, even the federal lawsuit he is bringing is weak and destined to fail for three reasons:

  1. His case is weak
  2. His lawyer is weak
  3. His time is short

Plenty has been written about number 2, Jindal’s representation, Jimmy Faircloth. The fact that he produced not expert witnesses and rolled over in his last case on this issue should be documentation enough. (Not to mention he has never won a Constitution education case he’s represented Jindal on – not that that is ordinarily bad thing except here. . .) While Faircloth might not be the best lawyer if you want to actually win a case, no one can say he isn’t generous when it comes to kicking back [legally of course] some of his “earnings” to his favorite employer in the form of campaign contributions. (This is legal in Louisiana as long as no one calls it a “kickback” or demands a kickback and – and it just “happens” organically. . . I guess. . . of their own volition/common sense.)

So instead I will explore the other two items.

It’s not that the argument the Jindal administration is making a federal case out of is not firmly grounded for some states, but at this moment Louisiana is not really one of them. US DOE did unconstitutionally grant itself waiver powers to ignore the legally defined sanctions of NCLB in the form of ESEA waivers. These waivers were put in place by US DOE to supplant NCLB (No Child Left Behind) requirements. These were put in place without Congressional approval and Duncan has required the defacto adoption of Common Core (or a nationally recognized curriculum of which only Common Core qualifies) in exchange for relaxation of the NCLB requirements. The NCLB requirements were designed to be unattainable, requiring 100% proficiency of all students in all subgroups (Limited English, poor, disabled) by 2014. Some threats made by US DOE are that all federal funding would be withheld if the states don’t meet the impossible standards of NCLB, or the sanctions of NCLB (which can be financially crippling) and will be vigorously enforced. So states can choose to weather the NCLB sanctions which no states can avoid, or adopt Common Core and tie those tests to teacher retention policies and also adopt a bunch of other Reform friendly destructive crap.

By “waiving” the sanctions imposed by the NCLB law that Congress did authorize, Duncan removed the incentive and urgency for Congress to fix the problem built into NCLB that all states faced because NCLB was designed to be structurally impossible to achieve by anyone. When Congress chose to turn a blind eye to the constitutionally questionable ESEA waivers, what resulted was a ceding of all powers to set rules and guidelines for federal funding to the Executive branch (Arne Duncan), rather than the legislative branch of government.

This is why many informed opponents of Common Core consider it a federal mandate and takeover.

(When the mainstream media chooses to ignore this direct line of influence and control it feeds into the conspiracy theories and theorists. To tell you the truth, media that refuses to acknowledge this direct connection is really stupid (or thinks we are), willfully ignorant, lazy, or is actually a part of a conspiracy to spread Common Core propaganda.)

So what has resulted from the imposition of unattainable standards and the refusal of Congress to act to remedy the situation is a requirement that states adopt Common Core (nationally recognized standards of which there was only one by definition: Common Core State Standards), or else.

However Duncan’s interference did not end there. He also added this requirement to the billions of dollars allocated to RTTT (Race To The Top) grants. Louisiana would be in a much better position to make the case these standards were imposed upon them unconstitutionally if Louisiana rejected them (as Oklahoma has done) and was subsequently sanctioned by Arne Duncan (as has happened to Oklahoma). However because Louisiana’s state Board of Education (BESE) is endorsing them, and not stating they are doing so because of a concern about funding being yanked, Jindal’s case is weak. He could make it stronger by kicking his own appointees and replacing them with anti-Common Core appointees, and then perhaps working out an “understanding” with the swing vote BESE member, Walter Lee, who is facing multiple indictments for various financial improprieties. I can see an easy win there, and then a strong federal case to be made when Duncan slams some sanctions down on us.

The basis of the case for arguing the RTTT grants are unconstitutional will be tied to the determination of whether the Federal government can define national standards and curriculum, or whether those are sovereign rights left to the states. Some states that received very large grants in the first or second round of RTT (during one of the greatest financial downturns in our nation since the Great Depression might have a case they applied for and agreed to these grants under financial duress.) However the 17 million dollars Jindal complains about in his federal lawsuit is chump change compared to the more than 800 million dollars Louisiana receives from LDOE for agreeing to the waiver conditions set in conjunction with Arne Duncan. The ESEA waiver process is where Arne’s chokehold over education comes from. 17 million dollars is what we find in our couches every year trying to fill the billion dollars shortfalls Jindal “balances” our budgets with every year, but it is an issue for some states that won significantly more than 17 million dollars..

Even so, a Federal lawsuit is not the short-term answer and not one Jindal can follow-through on. Jindal’s term is up in a little more than a year and he can’t run for a third term (thank the Lord). Not one candidate for Governor in the 2015 gubernatorial race supports eliminating Common Core. The front-runner and most well-funded (and diapered) candidate, David Vitter, has changed his position from staunchly opposed to rabidly in favor of Common Core. (I’m assuming he changed positions after he found out who had all the money.) That means this lawsuit will not amount to anything except more money for one of Jindal’s best campaign donors (Jimmy Faircloth) more headlines for him, and more wasted money and hopes for Louisiana taxpayers and parents.

The BP oil spill happened in 2010. We know who was responsible and BP has acknowledged their responsibility. We know who was damaged. That tragedy happened at end of Bobby Jindal’s first term; 4 years ago, but we still do not have a final settlement for the State or lawsuit brought to trial for Louisiana. What are the chances this lawsuit concerning our very US Constitution will have any meaningful results in the next year?

Will we wait 4 years for this to be resolved? How many Louisiana Governors will be have to go through before a settlement is reached?

That is what Common Core supporters (whom I must now re-include Bobby Jindal as) want. They want a full generation of our children to experiment on to see if Common Core works (even though the early results show abysmal failure.) But don’t worry, parents. I’m sure the next big education plan will be right around the corner for your kids’ kids. Maybe they will be more successful at taming the Educational Industrial Complex than we were?