My Anti-Ed Reform in Louisiana, part 2 of???

But before I get into some of the nitty-gritty details of where I am today as a small part of a grassroots rebellion, it’s important to note that none of this happened in a vacuum. I suppose I was a little like every little state worker bee for the first few years. I believed I was a simple civil servant, but that was ok. I had a job to do, just like everyone else, and we all wanted to work toward a common goal, and help our fellow citizens and our state. At the Louisiana Department of Education I enjoyed my job, and I despite some political jockeying in the upper echelons of management and the occasional slacker (every agency has one or two, but that’s not something confined to the public sector), I believed most people were bound by the same general common goal: To serve our state, to help our school districts, and to improve the lot of children in whatever role we served.

At first I didn’t really pay attention the difference between classified and unclassified personnel. To me, unclassified personnel were simply folks that had specialized skills, temps with specific projects, or agency heads that needed to be reportable directly to our elected officials so they couldn’t hide behind the Civil Service rules that theoretically protected classified folks. I was a classified worker. This mean I had to meet and document my qualifications for a given job level (or grade) that my salary and promotional opportunities would largely be handled by a strict schedule, but I wouldn’t be subject whimsical or politically driven termination. I wouldn’t get rich, there would be no bonuses or raises in good times, but I would be able to support a family, plan for a stable retirement, buy a house and invest in the community, and serve my stat and the people of my state, my friends, neighbors, teachers and their children. That seemed like a pretty good deal to me and I was content.

My primary role was collecting data used for funding school districts and reporting and evaluating school districts. As I stayed on I realized I was learning some pretty specialized and skills and developing a lot of institutional knowledge that allowed me to streamline processes in the department. I discovered that due to a process misunderstanding, school districts were missing out on as much as 20 million dollars in state and federal funds, annually – which I was able to correct because of my knowledge of all the relevant parties and their roles. Part of my job was data auditor, so I became pretty adept at reading and recognizing education data, and realizing the significance of small changes and trends which allowed me recognize when one of school districts was probably having a system issue before they did. I rewrote a 34 page dropout calculation down to about 3 pages, which in addition to saving loads of processing time actually fixed a problem that was accidentally marking additional students as dropouts. I successfully championed allowing students that have completed 12th grade, but failed to graduate due to lack of credits or passing the GEE, to remain in school to work on these requirements until meeting the necessary requirements. Not bad for just a little data collector and data reporting guy – I thought. After Katrina and Rita hit I built some extraction and importer tools to automate the process of retrieving school records from multiple databases that could be shared with the 48 other states our children ended up enrolling in. This enabled them to quickly restart the education part of their lives that was so significantly disrupted by mother nature by allowing other school districts to place our children in appropriate educational settings . (Most of the states we worked with were impressed with our organizational and response abilities in the face of a once in a century catastrophe but I could not have done it without a great team of dedicated civil servants and friends to back me up.) I also created terms that were used to describe students the very transient and migratory nature of our multiply displaced students (some students were evacuated as many as 4 or more times due to Katrina, Rita, and overcrowding) – nomadic. I first had to lobby for this internally once I learned all the expenses districts were incurring even for temporarily enrolling students before they were often mysteriously whisked away in the night. I also helped to successfully lobby the federal government to fund these types of students and their situations and developed a system to keep track of these students without requiring any coding changes for our vendors, state systems or school districts.

I thought I’d done good. But then Paul Pastorek, RSD and death by a 1000 charters came to town.

Early on I was a bit overwhelmed by my job and the situation, and probably like a lot of New Orleanians, grateful for anyone offering to help rebuild the city and not put off by the enormous task. I don’t think enough of us questioned the motivations of people coming in. Since Katrina I’ve been through and observed several other local disasters like Gustav, BP, and the earthquake in Haiti. Now I see that for all the good folks, there are at least as many bad apples, spoiling to get a crack at any recovery dollars and to take advantage of the unwary, the infirm, and the desperate. This is something I’ve learned that education “reformers” are very good at – taking advantage of the poor and downtrodden. As US secretary of Education Arne Duncan confirmed on a visit to New Orleans, Katrina was a godsend, to them.

Noel Hammatt has produced a very terrific article on poverty in Louisiana and the perfect correlation between poverty and SPS (School Performance Scores) produced by the Louisiana department of education to rank our public schools. I strongly encourage anyone who thinks our school and student performance is based on anything other than poverty to read his analysis. Be aware, there will always be anomalies, we all know someone from a wealthy family that was dumb as rocks, or the poor kid from the tragic background that made good, but those stories are overwhelmingly outweighed by the preponderance of evidence we have, evidence that reformers use every trick in the book to disguise, deny, hide, falsify or even destroy as has been the case in of LDOE under John White reformer rule and to a lesser extent his predecessor Paul Pastorek. These are some of the actions that convinced me that not only do reformers not believe their own platitude strewn “Louisiana Believes” garbage; they consciously and methodically seek to mislead the public with both forethought and malice.

For years data rolled in from RSD (The state run Recovery School District) that was absurdly incomplete. Paul Vallas was brought to RSD town in New Orleans after ruining the education system in my hometown of Philadelphia with his charter school obsessed budget busting and bankrupting shenanigans.

(In case you’re wondering, reformers have never been successful in any city they’ve invaded and sacked like barbaric education Visigoths and Vandals conquering Rome. They usually leave the cities and states they lead in much worse situations than they found them, in many cases with irreparable damage so they become cyclically victimized by successive waves of “reformers.” You can look at the who’s who of reform cities, like DC, Philadelphia, New York, New Orleans, Chicago, St Louis, Atlanta, and you will see story after story of cheating, scandal, outrage, school closings, mass educator firings, fiscal mismanagement and blatant disregard for civil rights of minorities and disabled children. What you won’t see is real improvement that stands up to any scrutiny, and this is after decades of “reform” in many cases. None of the children few of the original teachers and principals are left in these “reform” havens, so why we not amazed and blown away by all the progress of these unfettered policies? Let me reiterate this point, education reform is decades old, but constantly changing its stripes and flavors to evade responsibility and accountability. Reform is a used and infectious band aid passed from one city (or market as they see it) to another, ushered in by snake oil salesmen like Paul Vallas, John White, Michelle Rhee, Tony Bennet, and Joel Klein, who sell their tainted products with fancy labels and move on just before the locals drive them out with pitchforks or their frauds can be revealed and definitively tied to them.)

And Paul Vallas was brought to us by Paul Pastorek, a lawyer playing superintendent with a salary twice the southern average for such salaries in the second poorest state (Thanks Mississippi!) (Incidentally Paul Vallas is like like 6’5″ and Paul Pastorek is like five feet nothing, so you just know we had to call them Big P and little pp or Dr Evil and Mini p.)

Apparently legislators were swayed by Pastorek’s argument that he needed nearly half a million dollar annual salary (including both base salary and allowances) to support his family (which at last check did not exceed 100 members and probably none living at home. . .) Of course Paul Pastorek is an unclassified appointee who had the qualifications for state superintendent waived. This argument rarely is a consideration for rank and file employees who have been denied raises for as many as the past 5 years in some cases but 3 to 4 in most. Of course most state workers earn less than 30k per year, and many at earn less than the poverty level, in one of the poorest states, so they are already used to making do with less than their family can afford.

This salary fiasco was our first introduction, lawyer/lobbyist turned education reformer Paul Pastorek but a pretty good indication of where his priorities resided. Some of his first actions were to commence laying off employees left and right so he could afford reform fellow and TFA alums like Jacob Landry and Chris Meyer to direct our first runs at Race to the Top funds. Despite the fact Louisiana was considered early favorites for these hundreds of millions in potential funding, we lost out in every application process. We were told our initial application was flawed and was missing some components. However we chose to ignore these comments and submitted virtually the exact same proposal and lost out again. Despite these failures and lack of funding to support the radical changes outlined in Louisiana’s proposal, Paul Pastorek vowed to pursue the changes anyways, and proceeded to lay off more classified workers and replace them with more unclassified TFA fellows who roamed our halls playing games with balled up pieces of paper and looking for things to keep them busy (There was a corral of them right outside my office.) After Bobby Jindal was elected, he appointed Erin Bendilly to run a newly created department called Parental Options, a department tasked with expanding charter schools, virtual schools, and vouchers and suppressing all oversight and regulations of the same. Whenever the legislature passed a law or requested information about charters and their ilk, her job was to confound that request, scale back the response, muddy the narrative, and to interpret the law as not applicable to charters despite what our own lawyers said. Since many of our lawyers refused to agree with her interpretations they were encouraged to retire or were fired and replaced with more pliable ones. (After all, everyone knows lawyers’ jobs are to creatively interpret the law to suit your agenda, not uphold the law or interpret it as intended, right?) It was also widely known that Erin was to be the Governor’s ears and eyes at the department.

My only real direct interaction with Erin was over the Shadow School situation, (usually her messages and missives were delivered by word of mouth by traitorous sycophantic toadies – we assumed to avoid an e-mail trail.) Shadow Schools are a phenomenon born out of the need to evade accountability sanctions. These are high performing magnet schools/academies that either don’t get reported to the state or federal government, such as has happened in Iberville with the MSA East and West Academies, or schools that have every single student routed to another low performing school to raise that schools scores. When Erin first learned of this situation she seemed alarmed that parents were being misled by this policy, but a few well connected phone calls later she changed her tune and decided to cover for Edward Cancienne and his ploys. Until then I’d had hope that maybe some of the appointed folks that Jindal appointed (or his appointees) had a soul, but money, power and influence peddling had sadly corrupted them all, probably before the got to DOE. When the legislature passed laws that were designed to document and reveal the extent of bullying and corporal punishment prevalent in our public schools, Erin’s only concerns and communications revolved around making sure charters schools were held exempt from these laws. This was despite clear and unequivocal communications from our chief legal counsel, Joan Hunt, that charter schools were explicitly not exempt from following these laws, at least at first. You see, after a string of bullying related suicides a few years ago the legislature amended Louisiana’s laws on bullying. They named the revised law after Tesa Middlebrook, a teen who attended a High school assigned to the Recovery School District and handed over to a charter operator that Pointe Coupee lobbied fiercely to keep out, but to no avail.

(Pointe Coupee is one of our poorest parishes, so they kids fair poorly on our tests that are inherently biased against the poor. They do not measure progress, if you are a parent without the means to send your kids to private pre-k your kids will fall behind those that do. If you are a poor parish like Pointe Coupee or St Helena you have no rights in this state, you are merely your chattel, your children are property waiting to be sold to their new owners.  Look at this graphic below if you have any doubts about who is being targeted.  In Louisiana these numbers are even more stark.)

This revised Tesa Middlebrook anti-bullying act was championed by Gene Mills and the Louisiana Family Forum because it allowed teens to be bullied if they were gay, so long as the students doing the bullying claimed there were doing so for religious reasons, and it officially excluded charter schools, like the one Tesa Middlebrook attended, from having to report or address bullying incidents. Tesa Middlebrook’s family was not consulted about the naming of this legislation after her, and I can’t imagine they were as pleased with tragic irony at play here. This was a revision supported by Superintendent White. To date John White’s DOE has not released any numbers on bullying or corporal punishment. If he did, he might have to do something about it. What he has done is lay off most of the folks in charge of keeping track of discipline issues or who ran our positive behavior support system. Personally I don’t think our kids can only be reasoned with wooden boards, but John White knows otherwise. Our children are just things to him, so I suppose that attitude is at least internally consistent with his world view.

I once thought Paul Pastorek and Patrick Dobard (the current head of RSD) were misguided, but their hearts were in the right place when I learned about their interest in ramming through some collections on Corporal Punishment and Bullying. I met with Patrick several times, and he seemed pretty sincere about wanting to collect this information, and that Paul wanted to collect the corporal punishment data in particular to provide evidence about how widespread this practice was. They seemed to think we could turn on a “switch” and immediately collect all this data, like it existed in a magic data fairytale land. It took a few meetings before I understood just how they thought data collections worked and then a few more to explain we would have to define what we wanted LEAs to start collecting before they could send it to us to report on. I tried to encourage them to wait for the next school year, so their vendors could have a chance to prepare their systems for the new elements, and their school staff would have a chance to be trained on how to collect and report this data but I was overruled. I was a bit miffed by this and initially refused to have any part in the initial haphazard collection designed, but then a colleague named Kim Nesmith approached me and told me about “the pictures.” Dozens of pictures turned over to the legal department related to lawsuits. Pictures of tiny bruised, and bloodied butts and genitals of children who’d been hospitalized for state sanctioned abuse. I believed Kim, that she felt this was something important to address so I took over the compiling of the initial data which was way beyond her abilities despite what she promised to Dobard and Pastorek. What I saw in the data truly sickened me. I couldn’t believe the numbers I was getting and had to call some of the districts up to confirm them. There were four year olds and 18 year olds being paddled indiscriminately. Some kids were being beaten for uniform violations.

I was told this was something done for the children’s own good, since the alternative was suspension from school, and loss of valuable instructional time. I’m not sure why the children were being beaten and not the parents for having enough clean uniforms? Perhaps some people fell this is a reasonable response to poor families unable to afford enough uniforms or their own washer and dryer but to me this seemed like a gross civil rights abuse, heavy on the gross.

Some of the children were beaten several dozen times over the few months we collected data, sometimes several times the same day. I would like the people to consider the implications of doing that the next time they blithely quote Einstein as saying the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This is perhaps one of favorite catch phrases of reformers, but it never applies to taking over the schools of poor children and turning them into charters, or irrationally expanding substandard virtual schools such as is happening in Pennsylvania, despite all the evidence that indicates these schools are worse for almost all students, and sap valuable resources from more appropriate and productive education venues. It also never seems to apply to Corporal abuse.

However once John White came to town this initiative was squelched. I couldn’t quite understand why. John White claimed to care about our children, but this was just one of many examples that showed me just how wrong that claim was. After I left the agency I tried multiple times to get DOE to release this data to me. Eventually I even contacted Kim, who by this time had managed to bluff her way into a director position over data collections. When I asked this person, who had initially plead with me help her with this data collection she mocked me. “What are you going to do? Who are you going to tell, the media,” she laughed (I think it might have actually been an LOL) “Are you an activist now? Why do you care?”

I was shocked, but I shouldn’t have been. Of course it always appeared she was just kissing up to whatever ass was nearby, but for some reason I thought maybe this time was different. Crocodiles have tears for a reason I suppose. . .

Since then I’ve asked for all manner of data and over a year later I am still waiting. At this point I’m relatively sure I will never get any of the data I’ve asked for, but I will explain what I’ve asked for and why so you will see what they are hiding. For instance, did you know that many of the charters in New Orleans claiming graduation rates of 80-90% are actually only graduating around 50% of the students who initially enroll? They are using flawed numbers, semantics and percentages without numerators or denominators to disguise what is really going on. . . When I show you their tricks, maybe you’ll understand why they disgust me, and why I claim they are using our children as mutton more than sheep for the sheering.

Link to part I:

Why is John White Hiding Thousands of Cases of Child Abuse?

Why is John White Hiding Thousands of Cases of Child Abuse?

Louisiana has the laxest rules for corporal punishment in the nation. And unbeknownst to most Louisiana residents, we’re not afraid to use it quite liberally in hundreds of schools on thousands of students every year.

Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:223 – Discipline of pupils; suspension from school, corporal punishment

A. Every teacher is authorized to hold every pupil to a strict accountability for any disorderly conduct in school or on the playground of the school, or on any school bus going to or returning from school, or during intermission or recess. Each parish and city school board shall have discretion in the use of corporal punishment. In those cases in which a parish or city school board decides to use corporal punishment, each parish or city school board shall adopt such rules and regulations as it deems necessary to implement and control any form of corporal punishment in the schools in its district.

In many cases students end up in emergency rooms for broken blood vessels, fractured tail bones and bloody and ruptured genitals.

It can unintentionally cause serious physical damage:

  • Boxing on the ear can burst an eardrum.
  • Shaking can cause a concussion, whiplash, blindness, serious brain damage, or even death
  • Spanking can injure muscles, the sciatic nerve, pelvis, coccyx (tail bone), genitals or spine.
  • Hitting a child’s hands can injure bones, blood vessels, joints and ligaments; it can induce premature osteoarthritis.
  • A child who is hit can accidentally fall and seriously injure themselves.

It can cause lasting psychological and emotional harm to children and those pathologies are carried well into adulthood.

It may trigger criminal, anti-social, violent, aggressive behavior later in life: A longitudinal study of 442 boys born in 1972, found that one out of every three boys — those who have a specific version of a gene — who was maltreated during childhood will be almost certain to exhibit anti-social or criminal behavior as an adult. Maltreatment was defined as including physical abuse. If this is true for boys subjected to physical abuse, one wonders if the violence associated with conventional levels of corporal punishment could also trigger violent or aggressive behavior later in life? Unfortunately, the study is recent, and researchers do not yet know what level of violence is needed to trigger the negative adult behavior. It can be argued that, in the absence of precise data, parents should err on the side of caution and avoid spanking at all costs. More details

It has been linked to many adult problems.
Corporal punishment studies have linked spanking during childhood to higher levels of adult depression, psychiatric problems, and addictions. Another study shows that children who were spanked have a lower IQ when compared to children whose parents used other methods of discipline and control.

It can escalate to abuse: Because a spanking works for a while, the parent often repeats the spanking whenever the child misbehaves. Corporal punishment may then become a standard response to any misbehavior. This can lead to increasingly frequent and harsher spanking which can exceed the “reasonable force” threshold and become abuse. According to the Institute for the Prevention of Child Abuse, “85% of all cases of physical abuse result from some form of over-discipline through the use of corporal punishment”. Each year about 44 Canadian children are known to have been killed by family members; 35 of them by parents. The figures for the United States are probably about 10 times higher.

It trains a child to use violence: Spanking can teach children that it is acceptable for the strong to use force against the weak — the concept “Might makes right” is regularly reinforced. They have an increased likelihood of becoming more aggressive towards their siblings, their fellow students, and (later in life) against their spouses and their own children. Violence as a way of behaving is a learned response.

From :

Corporal punishment results in higher levels of (children’s) aggression and lower levels of moral internalization and mental health. (Gershoff, E.T. (2002) Corporal Punishment by Parents and Associated Child Behaviors and Experiences: A Meta-Analytic and Theoretical Review. Psychological Bulletin 128, 4, pp. 539-579.)

Corporal punishment used on children :

  • Reduces the likelihood that they will internalize society morals and learn the reasons for behaving correctly.
  • Increases their aggressive behaviors and hostile attributions that are predictive of future violent behavior
  • Increases antisocial behaviors such as stealing
  • Results in higher arrest rates when they are ages 17 through 45
  • Increases the likelihood that the individual will act violently with an adult romantic partner
  • Increases rates of major depression (Afifi, T.O., Brownridge, D.A., Cox, B.J., Jitender, S. (2006). Physical punishment, Childhood Abuse and Psychiatric Disorders. Child Abuse and Neglect: The International Journal v30 n10, pp 1093-1102)
  • Increases rates of alcohol abuse/dependence

Frankly, it is a perverted practice, and there are no legal restrictions preventing opposite sex adults from engaging in spanking adult age high schoolers.

Slapping or any other type of force used on the buttocks is a sexual violation: The buttocks are an erogenous zone of the human body. Their nerve system is connected to the body’s sexual nerve centers. Slapping them can involuntarily trigger feelings of sexual pleasure which become mixed with the pain. This can lead to confusion in the child’s mind which influences the way in which they express their sexuality as adults.

It is ineffective.

It is ineffective: Spanking a child will stop the child from misbehaving for the moment, but studies have shown that the child’s compliance will only last for a short time; corporal punishment actually increases the child’s non-compliant behavior in the future. Psychologist H. Stephen Glenn said “Corporal punishment is the least effective method [of discipline]. Punishment reinforces a failure identity. It reinforces rebellion, resistance, revenge and resentment. And, what people who spank children will learn is that it teaches more about you than it does about them that the whole goal is to crush the child. It’s not dignified, and it’s not respectful.

(.K. Ni, “Spanking denounced as ineffective, harmful — Expert at ‘Families Alive’ [conference] urges positive discipline,” Deseret News, 1998-MAY-9, at:

It lowers children’s intellectual development. Would it come as any surprise to you than many of our lowest performing districts are the heaviest employers of Corporal Punishment?

Spanking lowers a child’s IQ: A study at the University of New Hampshire, released in 1998-JUL, found that spanking children apparently slows down their intellectual development. 3 A study of 960 children found an average 4 point reduction in IQ among students, from and average IQ of 102 (above average) for children who are not spanked, to an average IQ 98 (below average) for who are. A reduction of 4 points is enough to have a significant negative functional effect on the students. More information

Jane Gadd, “Spanked children suffer intellectually,” The Globe and Mail, Toronto ON, 1998-JUL-30

It is disproportionately used against disabled, poor, abused and black students.

Corporal punishment tends to be disproportionately used on students who are minorities, male, poor, and/or have disabilities. (A Violent Education: Corporal Punishment of Children in U.S. Public Schools, ACLU Executive Summary, February 2009)

• Nationally, 41,972 students with disabilities received corporal punishment in the 2006-2007 school year.

• This condones the otherwise illegal battery to the ‘infirm’ (
R.S. 14:35.2)

Two School districts with the most liberal use of corporal punishment, using it on about half their students every year, are Richland and Morehouse Parishes.


042001 Delhi High School Richland Parish


Yes School In Decline D-
042002 Delhi Middle School Richland Parish


Yes School In Decline D-
042003 Delhi Elementary School Richland Parish


No Minimal Academic Growth D
042004 Holly Ridge Elementary School Richland Parish


Yes School In Decline C-
042005 Mangham Elementary School Richland Parish


Yes Minimal Academic Growth C
042006 Mangham High School Richland Parish


Yes Minimal Academic Growth C
042007 Mangham Junior High School Richland Parish


Yes School In Decline D-
042008 Rayville High School Richland Parish


No School In Decline D-
042009 Rayville Junior High School Richland Parish


No School In Decline D-
042010 Rayville Elementary School Richland Parish


No School In Decline D-
042012 Start Elementary School Richland Parish


Yes Minimal Academic Growth B


034001 Henry V. Adams Elementary School Morehouse Parish


No Minimal Academic Growth D
034002 Bastrop High School Morehouse Parish


No No Growth D-
034004 Morehouse Junior High School Morehouse Parish


Yes No Growth D-
034005 Beekman Junior High School Morehouse Parish


No School In Decline C-
034008 Cherry Ridge Elementary School Morehouse Parish


Yes Exemplary Academic Growth D+
034010 Delta Junior High School Morehouse Parish


Yes Minimal Academic Growth D
034014 Oak Hill Elementary School Morehouse Parish


Yes School In Decline D-
034016 Pine Grove Elementary School Morehouse Parish


No No Growth D-
034017 South Side Elementary School Morehouse Parish


Yes Minimal Academic Growth D
034023 Morehouse Magnet School Morehouse Parish


Yes Exemplary Academic Growth A+
034025 Morehouse Alternative School Morehouse Parish


Yes Minimal Academic Growth F

US Dept of Education statistics claim that some 2,090 students were spanked here in 2004-05, or about 46% of the enrollment, which would be at least 12 spankings per school day. (More than half of these were at just two almost-entirely-black elementary schools.) Corporal punishment may be given by any teacher, but not by bus drivers. The teacher may spank with his or her hand (it is fairly unusual for this to be specified in official rules), or else use a paddle 20″ long, 4″ wide and half an inch thick. . .


If I had to hazard a guess, I would bet that these schools that employ corporal punishment the least have the highest scores, and vice versa. We can find out of course. The Louisiana Department of Education collected this data down to the individual school and incident level for the past 2 years but refuses all requests to release this data in summary or detail form. Instead they pretend they complied with the legislative resolution by providing this poorly scanned, repeatedly photocopied and barely legible survey that was conducted prior to the legislation. This is how John White deals with uncomfortable data, he hides it or lies about it, or provides weak and pathetic answers to claim he’s complied, but I’ll let you decide for yourself.

Do you think this document . . .

…hosted here:

Answers this legislative request:


Page 2 of 2

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that such information shall include but not be limited to the following:

(1) Each incident of corporal punishment as documented in writing, including the name of the student; the time, date, and details of the disciplinary infraction; and the name of all teachers and other school employees who witnessed the student’s misbehavior.

(2) A description of any prior behavioral supports that were provided to the student.

(3) The number of any prior behavioral supports provided for each incident of corporal punishment.

(4) The name of the individual who administered the corporal punishment and the name of any witness thereto, each of whom shall sign and date the required documentation.

(5) The findings of all investigations of employees accused of unauthorized corporal punishment involving students.

(6) A statistical analysis and comparison of all incidents of corporal punishment for each city, parish, or other local public school system.

(7) The number of incidents of corporal punishment administered to each student if more than one per student has occurred.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this Resolution be transmitted to the president of the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the state superintendent of education.

(In case you were wondering which parishes reported they allow and employ it, and which don’t, here’s the details from the crappy scanned copy DOE provided the legislature.)

Do you think this pathetic scanned copy is adequate when the Louisiana Department of Education has collected all this data listed in the table below?

Did you know it was so many? Did you know the policy for how to use it, when to use it, and what to use to administer the punishment is left entirely up to the latest superintendent you hire? So if you have children in a school district that no longer employs corporal punishment, or employs it rarely, that could change overnight. And this state law also allows charter schools and voucher schools to use any method of physical punishment they deem necessary to maintain order. Despite what you may think, parents do not have a right to object. The state can put you in jail if you refuse to send you kids to school to be physically abused, thanks to our new truancy laws, but we also have laws that allow schools to beat your children with anything they find handy.

Neither the statutes nor the school board policies mandate that a spanking must be administered to a student. No school official is compelled to corporally punish a child. But by allowing corporal punishment, the legislature has recognized the need for such under certain circumstances. Significantly, in giving this discretion to our school systems, the legislature made no requirement that parents must first consent to such punishment. Nor has the legislature provided that parents be allowed to issue a carte blanche prohibition of a school’s exercising its rights under the statutes. To allow parents to unilaterally thwart the legally sanctioned decisions of school officials, could lead to troublesome, if not chaotic, results. There would be nothing to prevent ten, twenty or a hundred parents calling in to request that their child not be spanked. What if these same number of parents requested that no form of punishment whatsoever be administered to their children? The legislature, in its wisdom, chose not to leave the door open for such potentially dire consequences.

From: Setliff Vs Rapides School Board

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that corporal punishment cannot be used on prisoners, as it is inhumane and considered a cruel and unusual punishment, but we allow and freely proliferate the beating of 3 year olds in our schools.

In Hudson v McMillian (1992) the Court considered whether the beating by prison guards of a handcuffed inmate at Louisiana’s Angola prison violated the inmate’s Eighth Amendment rights. Voting 7 to 2, the Court found a violation of the cruel and unusual punishment clause even though the inmate suffered no permanent injuries or injuries that required hospitalization. In so holding, the Court rejected the lower court’s argument that only beatings that caused “significant injuries” (read as injuries that were permanent or required hospitalization) rose to the level of Eighth Amendment violations. In dissent, Justices Thomas and Scalia argued (controversially) that the Eighth Amendment was intended to reach beatings by guards at all–rather only judicially-imposed sentences

And the United Nations has even defined Corporal Punishment as amoral, aberrant and wrong.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

All but one of the federal governments who are members of the United Nations have signed it. The lone holdout is the United States.

The Convention defines a child as any “human being below the age of eighteen years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.

Article 19:
States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and education measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child. Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include effective procedures for the establishment of social programs to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement.

Way to lead the world, USA! Maybe China does have a point that our human rights record is nothing to gloat about? We also incarcerate more people than any other country in the world.

The incarceration rate in the United States of America is the highest in the world. As of 2009, the incarceration rate was 743 per 100,000 of national population (0.743%). In comparison, Russia had the second highest, at 577 per 100,000, Canada was 123rd in the world as 117 per 100,000, and China had 120 per 100,000. While Americans only represent about 5 percent of the world’s population, nearly one-quarter of the entire world’s inmates have been incarcerated in the United States in recent years. Imprisonment of America’s 2.3 million prisoners, costing $24,000 per inmate per year, and $5.1 billion in new prison construction, consumes $60 billion in budget expenditures

But I digress. Louisiana is the worst state of one of the worst countries in terms of children’s rights. John White knows this, and has chosen to hide this fact to curry favor with the governor by not allowing anything more embarrassing related to Louisiana and education to reach the light of day. He has stuck his head in the sand on this issue and allowed thousands of Louisiana children to be seriously injured and traumatized for the sake of his career and ambitions. White is a soulless, power hungry and driven automaton, in the coat pocket of privatization interests, and a product of corrupt political cronyism. He has no agenda other than to make himself look good and crush any children who dare get in his way. John White has refused every appeal I’m aware of to-date to produce this data. People have offered to compile it for him for free, because he laid-off or chased off many of the people with the knowledge and expertise to compile this data.

When you have no intent of ever complying with any requests for data from the public or the legislature, it’s a simple choice to make.

Make John White produce this data. Send this request to the media, TV, newspapers, other bloggers, and to the Louisiana Department of Education. Make him produce the counts. There are researchers waiting in the wings to do the analysis, if only given access. But we need a summary of this practice so people can educate themselves about what is going on in their backyard. Please do what you can and add your voice to mine.

Demographic Summary (To see if there are any obvious disparities, such as a disabled students and minorities getting beaten more often than their peers)

Students by reason code. . . (to see what exactly students are being beaten for across districts. . . )

Students Corporally Punished in Louisiana – by Reason
LEA Name LEA code BSSY Reason Code Reason Desc Action Count

(To see whom the districts have assigned to be their designated executioners, and if they are actually following their own policies)

Students Corporally Punished in Louisiana – by site and punisher


LEA Name LEA code Site Name Site code BSSY Code Title Name Action Count

The full excel file ===>(CP )<====  that can be submitted to DOE is here. Send it to: John White (NotsoSuperIntendent ) Kim Nesmith (Data Quality Director) Barry Landry (Communications)

And see if you can get a response. I’d like them to get a few thousand requests, but even one or two would be nice.

And while you may live in a parish that doesn’t employ corporal punishment at the moment, or doesn’t routinely use it, that could all change with a single change of a principal or superintendent, and it will be your child coming home with a bloody backside, for something he may or may not have done. I punish my children when they do wrong, I’m sure you do too, but I don’t try to injure them with my punishments, emotionally or physically. This practice is wrong, for children, for parents and society.

I will leave you with these thoughts and word from Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans, who banned the practice of corporal punishment at St Augustine’s in 2011.

“I do not believe the teachings of the Catholic Church, as we interpret them today in 2011, can possibly condone corporal punishment,” he explained to a Feb. 24 a town hall meeting at the Josephite-run St. Augustine High School in New Orleans. While parents have the authority to administer such punishment, he could not “possibly condone” the school doing so, the archdiocesan newspaper the Clarion Herald reports.

The archbishop explained that he believes that “hitting a young man does not build character.”

“My image of Jesus is that he said, ‘Let the children come to me.’ I cannot imagine Jesus paddling anyone.”

Corporal punishment can cause unintended physical injury and studies indicate it can cause physical, emotional and psychological damage, including loss of self-esteem and increased hostility toward authority, the archbishop said.

The archbishop had appointed Dr. Monica Applewhite, an expert in safe environment training and child protection, to represent the archdiocese on the committee reviewing the school’s practices.

According to the archbishop, she indicated that the school’s corporal punishment was both excessive and unreasonable and the school did not have effective safeguards to prevent future abuse.

She also said that at least three students were taken to the hospital after being paddled. There were also instances of students being paddled day after day and more than five or six times a day.

Applewhite said that St. Augustine is the last Catholic school in the country to use the wooden paddle.

As one of my former colleagues told me once when I inquired about EBR’s current policy on Corporal Punishment.

“We don’t beat our children in EBR, we love them.”

The rod is easy, what is hard is loving those who hurt us. The rod teaches children to fear us and that violence is an acceptable way to solve problems. Children will always misbehave, it’s our job as mentors and parents to show them the way, not the rod. The Catholic schools have led the way on this issue, but there is no shame in following good leader, but there is shame is following a bad one. There is shame in hiding a problem, so as not to address it, as John White and the Louisiana Department of Education is doing. Don’t let them. Send them the file. Contact the media. Contact your legislators.

State sanctioned child abuse is wrong. Now that you know of it, know that if you do nothing, your hands are no longer clean. Our children need you. Please lend your voices to mine so we can put a stop to this practice.

For a more in depth study/report created by/for the ACLU and Human Rights Watch please refer to this .pdf

Violent Education

or review this video produced by the US Dept of Education

Education Related Projects – Status Report and Log

Current Education Related Projects – Intro

I just realized I’ve been working on a number of different projects to expose education abuses and to improve education for the children in my state with a passion I usually reserve for online gaming and good food and drink.  Admittedly I was motivated by spite as well as a sense of duty and justice.  I’ve found the spiteful aspect to be less sustainable since my “voluntary” separation from my DOE.  What has replaced it is a sense of hope as I’ve talked to numerous groups and organizations on children’s issues and education data and how my knowledge of Louisiana’s data might be leveraged for positive outcomes for the children in my state – my own children included.  As I get documents published or outcomes achieved I will update my readers here.  Whenever possible, I am taking a low profile and using third parties to request data and pursue shared goals.  I plan to use this page to update my goals and record some statistics on my progress.

Corporal Punishment

Louisiana is one of the few states that still authorizes and vigorously employs the use of large wooden paddles to smack children who are deemed to be misbehaving.  There are no state guild lines on when it is appropriate to use corporal punishment.  While I was at the DOE I saw stats that showed more than half the children in a given district were disciplined this way in just last half of the year.  (We only collected data for the last semester which has never to my knowledge been published yet.  I was one of the few people who actually saw it since I was the one responsible for gathering and reporting it.) Some children were paddled more than 30 times over the course of just a few months.  Children as young 3 and 4 and as old as 17 were disciplined this way.  It appeared that boys and minorities were more often the recipients of corporal punishment but I was unable to determine (due to lack of time and quality of data) if the ethnic bias was more closely related to poverty.  Districts with some of the lowest education outcomes as measured by School Accountability Scores appeared to have the highest rates of corporal punishment (such as the parish that used CP on more than half of their students in half a school year.)  It would probably take a researcher some time to tease out that correlation though.  At least one parish allows any adult in a supervisory capacity the authority to discipline their students using a 18-24 inch wooden paddle without any training or oversight.  One of the most alarming findings was that many if not all school districts discipline their disabled (Special Education) students this way.  There is no review process in place to determine If the behavior deemed to warrant the use of physical force may be related to their unique exceptionality (such as a student with Tourette’s Syndrome spontaneously and uncontrollably cursing.)  There does not appear to be any consensus on what behavior warrants corporal punishment.  Some districts use it sparingly for more serious offenses, while a number of districts may employ it for the smallest transgression such as “Willful Disobedience” which is often a uniform violation such as an un-tucked shirt or inappropriate footwear.

As of 7/22/2012

Organizations or Prominent Citizens Contacted Contacts Made   Promising future coordination or currently coordinating Data Requests   filed/filled Reports and articles   produced/published Outcomes
17 5 2/0 0/1 task force list

Blog entries posted:

A Modest Corporal Punishment Proposal for Louisiana

Goal: To eliminate the use of Corporal Punishment in Louisiana.

(It’s already been outlawed for use on animals and inmates, but children have fewer rights here apparently)

Other references to my blog vis a vis corporal punishment:


I have acquired a task force list of prominent Louisiana citizens and organizations that participated in a task force with their preferences listed as for or against corporal punishment.  I am tracking down the “Fors” right now.

I have made a few requests to DOE to provide CP data either in summarized or raw form for me to compile.  I may need outside pressure to get them to release it.  I am looking for allies to help me get that ammo which i can use to interest more mainstream media organizations and legislators in my cause.


Section 504 Children (basically students with learning disabilities)

While I was at LDE I designed a system to capture the 504 status for students in Louisiana.  By now we have 2 or three years of data.  From my discussions with the state liaison and even people within and outside the department of education it is apparent that Non-public Schools, many charters and a number of school districts do everything they can to discourage students from claiming to have 504 disabilities.  This discouragement will take many forms but usually results in the students needing to be withdrawn and enrolled elsewhere, being underserved and discriminated against, or parents having to take on a greater financial burden to ensure their children receive supplementary services, tutors, etc.

Some of you may not really know what “504” means.  I didn’t before i started working on the project to collect data on this situation.  Before I started designing the system for collecting this data I did a little homework on what it is.   504 refers to a section of the American’s With Disabilities Act (ADA) that prohibits schools that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of children’s disabilities if the schools receive federal funding.  (Even though most non-pubic schools don’t receive traditional per-pupil funding, they may receive other types of federal funding for technology and nutrition programs for instance.)  With Louisiana’s new laws allowing any non-public school to receive local, state and federal funding – non-public schools must be held to the same standard as pubic schools in providing services for disabled students covered under 504 or IDEA (Special Education.) or be in violation of federal law.  Many of these schools probably don’t realize this yet, so this issue will need to be made more public and to prevent non-public schools from denying less desirable (more challenging) students from enrolling and remaining enrolled.

Additionally, based on the statistics I viewed, (and backed up by anecdotal accounts relayed to me) that a number of districts refuse to provide the same level of services that most of their peers provide.  When you have most districts identifying around 5%  of their students as having a 504 disability and several large districts reporting rates of less than a tenth of a percent in a like sized district. . . that would seem to warrant further investigation and possible sanctions and corrective actions.  Unfortunately the Louisiana Department of Education has been instructed by the past two Superintendents of Education that they are no longer going to be involved in overseeing compliance issues (even though the federal government provides funding for positions for that purpose that LDE fills).  Therefore outside groups will need to take an interest in this data and pushing for greater oversight and equality for disabled students.

If you are still bewildered by the difference between Special Education(IDEA) children and 504 disabled children this graphic and link may provide some insight.


  • To educate legislators and other stakeholders about 504 status.
  • To improve consistency in reporting and defining 504 status in LEAs.
  • To encourage Louisiana to include 504 status as a component of the teacher evaluation system (currently students may develop a 504 condition such as a learning disability or vision issue that can impact performance.  The Value Added model does not currently include 504 status as factor in a students sudden declination in test scores.)
  • To encourage legislators to include funding for LEAs to address 504 conditions just as they do for at-risk students, LEP students, and Special Education students.
  • To educate charter schools of their obligations under section 504 of the disability act in regards to addressing student needs.

Shadow Schools (Non-Reported Schools)

Shadows schools is a term I invented so don’t go looking for in anywhere else.  I discovered “shadow schools” while working at the Louisiana Department of Education but I have reason to believe what i discovered is just the tip of a very large and growing iceberg.  A shadow school is a schools which operates from the shadows, off the official books reported to the state, federal government and judicial agencies.  That’s not to say the school districts don’t know what’s going on at these shadow schools.  Like the Mafia, they have two sets of books (or possibly more.)   This allows the school district to manage personnel and students at a building level, but report those same students and teachers from other schools that are defined.  Some people have been confused as to why someone would want to do this.  Is this really a big deal, if the student and teachers all get reported?  Louisiana’s former superintendent of Accountability actual made this argument in a meeting I was in, in front of a political appointee that appeared to want to sweep this situation under the rug.  He knew full well what this meant/means but he also knew if he made a big deal about it he would  be gone.   He’s still gone (that was going to happen anyways) but by ignoring issues like this he was able to avoid making waves and stayed a bit longer than most.

Here is what most anyone who deals with data and accountability ought to have been able to explain off the top of his head.

(sorry i left it hanging here folks but i really need more hours in the day)  These will all be filled out eventually.

Homeless Students


Bullied Students


Violence Against Teachers (or anyone in Education setting)


Miscellaneous Special Education Issues


Slaying Value Added Model (and Replacing with a Collaborative System)


Charter School Oversight Issues (lack of)


Eliminating Creationism and ID from School Science Curriculum


A Modest Corporal Punishment Proposal for Louisiana

A Modest Corporal Punishment Proposal for Louisiana
Sometimes also referred to as the “Board of Education”

Even though our overly politically correct society has decided that beating animals with poles can be construed as unjust and abuse of the animals (and might get you thrown in jail or beaten by an angry mob yourself) and beating incarcerated adults is considered cruel and unusual punishment and forbade by our courts and Constitution. . . (apparently the 8th amendment even applies in Louisiana, folks.)

In Hudson v McMillian (1992) the Court considered whether the beating by prison guards of a handcuffed inmate at Louisiana’s Angola prison violated the inmate’s Eighth Amendment rights.  Voting 7 to 2, the Court found a violation of the cruel and unusual punishment clause even though the inmate suffered no permanent injuries or injuries that required hospitalization.  In so holding, the Court rejected the lower court’s argument that only beatings that caused “significant injuries” (read as injuries that were permanent or required hospitalization) rose to the level of Eighth Amendment violations.  In dissent, Justices Thomas and Scalia argued (controversially) that the Eighth Amendment was intended to reach beatings by guards at all–rather only judicially-imposed sentences.

I believe a sound case can be made that ample use of the rod will impress upon our youth a valuable lesson that will serve them well throughout the rest of their life in this great country of ours.

The “Lesson” you ask?

Namely that of what I like to call the Iron Fist Rule as more pragmatic, modern, alternative to the passe’ Golden Rule.  That force can, nay should, be met with unequal and overwhelming counter-force.

Take the recent example of Trayvon Martin.  Here was a youth who had the sheer audacity to wear a hooded sweatshirt in a neighborhood known for harboring an over zealous neighborhood watch captain.  No parent of a minority child in this country should, for one instant, think to allow their child to go outside looking like anything but an unassuming fellow like that Urkel from Family Matters.  In this tragedy, the parents are as much to blame as the child who wore the hooded sweatshirt.  Now some poor, frightened, gun-toting American is being harassed for doing what almost any one of us would have done in his case, chased down a suspicious character even after being told by the police to not chase him, (I mean, what black kid isn’t suspicious to Zimmerman?) and cornered him and his fiendishly purchased bag of skittles from the corner convenience store.  Trayvon could have just done what a gun brandishing Zimmerman wanted, whatever that was, but instead Trayvon made the wrong choice.  He chose to flee.  Obviously Zimmerman had no choice but to shoot to kill.

Now you may be asking yourself, how does this tie into Corporal Punishment and Louisiana exactly?

The answer is quite simple.  I believe we can prevent many of our own Trayvon Martin incidents by ensuring that Corporal Punishment is introduced into our public school system as early as possible.  I mean, can you imagine any child not benefiting from strangers beating them in pre-school when they act up?  What better way to convince little Timmy not to pinch or push another kid than 5 to 10 whacks with what I would like to refer to as the “Louisiana Board of Education” (funny huh?)  which, off the top of my head, might be a wooden paddle 24″ long by 5″ wide by 3/8″ thick. . . or so.  If we allowed our children to be beaten early and often for anything by just about anyone in authority they would soon learn that authority figures must be obeyed. . . or else.

I haven’t seen any credible studies done to prove what I’m about to say, but theoretically someone could create some statistics that would show that beating children on a regular basis improves test scores.  Current studies actually show the opposite, as well as a number of other unfavorable correlations, but I’m sure we could find a reputable paddle maker to fund a study that would prove my point, so I will continue to assert my previous point more emphatically, thus making it true.  Paddling will increase test scores! Paddling will lower the crime rates and murder rate, and also make us more competitive in the global marketplace!  I believe it is our duty to pass laws in Louisiana that will allow school districts to paddle their students to their hearts’ content.

I’ll also throw in this observation as an added bonus. Corporal Punishment on Special Education students is not regulated by the Federal government.  In fact, they may not even collect any data on this subject, which is an added, added bonus!  Student’s with learning disabilities,  or behavior problems such as being emotionally disturbed, would probably benefit from being “mainstreamed” with this discipline approach.  Lets face it folks, Special Education students are probably the hardest students for teachers to work with and reach.  Providing a 2 foot wooden paddle to teachers would greatly increase their reach. Additionally,  since we’re cutting back on teacher salaries and benefits, many of them might not be able to afford gym memberships or therapy sessions anymore.  Allowing teachers to administer a little corporal punishment on Special Educations students would probably help our teachers and principals in school districts that implement my policies build up some muscle tone and relieve some stress, sort of like using a punching bag in a gym does after a long day at work.  But they could do this while at work!  Many of the slower Special Education students might have trouble explaining or recanting the situation the provoked the corporal punishment response, which would make it almost impossible for anyone to sue a school district, principal, or teacher if they happen to go a little overboard with their exercise regime. . .

Ok, take a deep breath.

Hopefully this line of reasoning has you recoiling in horror and revulsion.  However you may not have grasped the most disturbing part about this piece.  This situation is already true in many parishes in the state.  Louisiana Revised Statute. 17:223  allows school districts to set their own corporal punishment policies.

And boy have they!

You can see a sampling of some of the variety here.

Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:223 – Discipline of pupils; suspension from school, corporal punishment

A. Every teacher is authorized to hold every pupil to a strict accountability for any disorderly conduct in school or on the playground of the school, or on any school bus going to or returning from school, or during intermission or recess. Each parish and city school board shall have discretion in the use of corporal punishment. In those cases in which a parish or city school board decides to use corporal punishment, each parish or city school board shall adopt such rules and regulations as it deems necessary to implement and control any form of corporal punishment in the schools in its district.

Estimates are close to 30 parishes have some form of Corporal Punishment policy.  State law does not give the state Department of Education any say over the matter whatsoever.  This means any school or school district in Louisiana can allow anyone on their staff to use any amount of corporal punishment for any offense as often as they like regardless of the age or health of the student.  Some parishes punish up to half of their entire student body, every year!  Some students get punished dozens of times a year!  There are no restrictions for using this punishment on disabled students, or infants, or the 18 and 19 year olds we are about to send out into the real world and hope they won’t take these lessons with them.

Fortunately more than half the state understands that this practice is barbaric, or they have at least recognized the potential liability they could incur should a student successfully sue and win on 8th Amendment grounds.  The messed up part here is that, while as a society we generally find animal abuse and abuse of prisoners abhorrent, when we rename the abuse “Corporal Punishment” and use it on our children, too many people find it tolerable or even something to be proud of.

I’m proud of Louisiana culture, Louisiana food, art, music, history, resilience, and perseverance in the face of many an overwhelmingly adverse situation.  However this state sanctioned child abuse , this is something of which I am very ashamed to be associated with.  My only hope is that one day enough of you will feel that way as well, and join my call to outlaw it.

Incidentally, and as I’ve discussed with others earlier, our appeals court has determined in Setliff vVs Rapides School Board that the legislature does not allow parents to opt out of corporal punishment for their children.  This case involves a kindergartener, certainly not well-behaved, but nevertheless one that was subjected to corporal punishment against his parents wishes.  According to the court, allowing parents the right to refuse to allow their children to be beaten with a wooden club that at times requires emergency room visits (also cited in the case notes) would lead to riots in the streets, mass hysteria and pandemonium, dogs and cats living together, basically life on this planet would end as we know it.

Neither the statutes nor the school board policies mandate that a spanking must be administered to a student. No school official is compelled to corporally punish a child. But by allowing corporal punishment, the legislature has recognized the need for such under certain circumstances. Significantly, in giving this discretion to our school systems, the legislature made no requirement that parents must first consent to such punishment. Nor has the legislature provided that parents be allowed to issue a carte blanche prohibition of a school’s exercising its rights under the statutes. To allow parents to unilaterally thwart the legally sanctioned decisions of school officials, could lead to troublesome, if not chaotic, results. There would be nothing to prevent ten, twenty or a hundred parents calling in to request that their child not be spanked. What if these same number of parents requested that no form of punishment whatsoever be administered to their children? The legislature, in its wisdom, chose not to leave the door open for such potentially dire consequences.

For updates on my Corporal Punishment progress and other education issues please go here.

I need people to start calling the Louisiana Department of Education and telling them to release the Corporal Punishment data to requesters and to publish the results.

Here is the link to LDOE’s Corporal Punishment information page.  Currently it contains no relevent collected data.

Some Data and reports hosted by LDOE

LDOE Contact Information

  • Public   Affairs                                                                                          225.342.3600
  • Kim Nesmith                      Data Quality Director                               225.342.1840
  • John White                         State Superintendent of Education
some of the info on corporal punishment that should be available in addition to demographics such as school, ethnicity, gender, age, etc.