Sorry I’ve been away so long. . .

Sorry  I’ve been away so long. . .

I know some of you are wondering what corner of the earth I dropped off of (or took refuge in).  I’m equally sure there are plenty of people who are glad they don’t have to hear any more from me – and are probably hoping this is a permanent situation.  I hate to disappoint, but I’m still watching and observing – from a sane distance.

I noticed after the recent BESE and Governor’s elections that the anti-reform camps were devolving.  This seemed to be happening along party lines, and I wanted no part of that.  I worked hard to build a coalition of voices and I was sad to see it fracturing in the aftermath of John Bel Edward’s election and his subsequent BESE selections that left many in the crossover conservative/Republican/Libertarian/Independent/Anti-CC camps feeling betrayed and those in the Liberal, Democrat, pro-union, CC indifferent camps overly-aggressive and defensive. With my style of writing, and proclivity for writing passionately (maybe even a tad hot-headed), I felt it best to take some time off and simply observe interactions and outcomes and watch where people chose to align themselves.  I chose to disengage and cultivate my detachment. Being intensely involved with groups with objectives and their own points of view would have colored my opinions and hindered this process for me. Additionally, there was that whole 3 billion dollar budget deficit thing some of you might have heard of over the past few months.  I could see that was sucking all the air out of the room (as well it should have.)  That is/was a serious problem for our state with significant implications for k-12 and postsecondary education.

In this off time I have been working on some neglected aspects of my life that needed more attention than I was able to give while I was trying to run a political campaign and support a growing movement.  I still had a finite amount of time to do everything in my life, so some things just did not get done.  Without going into details, this caused a few personal problems I’ve had to clean up, and am still cleaning up.  I’m hoping a significant portion of that “cleanup” will be complete in the next month – which should free up some more time for me and other pursuits like blogging and activism because it seems like there are still many people without a voice or champion for their problems.

Yesterday some of the security folks and a receptionist at my office asked me a few questions about Common Core and the new LEAP tests.  They had seen my signs around town and seen me in suits over the past year and knew I had some knowledge of things in the education arena.  They have kids in public schools in various parishes so they have Common Core and PARCC tests too, and they hate them.  I don’t like to tell people my stand on those things until I hear their opinions.  (I try to gather opinions from folks without imparting my biases on them first.  I keep tabs on issues and how people from different backgrounds are feeling about different education policies.  Sometimes they have unique perspectives, and sometimes they tell me about new problems, benefits, or implications that are subtler and which I hadn’t heard about or considered before.  They asked me if it was true that Common Core was being replaced with something much better, like they had read in the newspaper.  They asked me about the new L.E.A.P. tests that the state was administering and if those would be an improvement from PARCC, or from whatever we had last year.  Sadly I had to tell them that those were simply name changes and that the content was likely to be 99% the same.

There’s still a lot of people that don’t really know what’s really going on.  I read about different aspects of the situation but I rarely see a cohesive whole discussed anywhere, or if I do it’s the slanted company line. I have seen some pretty good summaries on Michael Deshotels’ blog, http://www.louisianaeducator.blogspot.com (I strongly recommend it for keeping with the play by play education situation), but nothing in more traditional sources.

For instance, many people think Common Core is going away, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Common Core is more than a set of standards now. Now CC is an important part of the national Educational Industrial Complex.  Without something very drastic happening we are stuck with it and the silly garbage and explosive costs that go along with it.

Take for example this Common Core, Eureka Math worksheet below.

20160112_183605.jpg

This was one of the assignments given to my first grader from the only LDOE Tier One approved mathematics curriculum vendors (Eureka/Engage NY/Greatminds – they keep changing their name to outrun all the bad reviews on their product). It has complicated instructions I would imagine most first graders would have trouble understanding.  If they asked their parents about this worksheet (like mine did) they have no idea what these jargon laden strategies mean listed in the top right box (except for the helpful “I just knew”) answer.  What’s even more frustrating to both parents and children is that the examples are solved incorrectly.  The first one shows an equation of 13-6 = 4 and then provides work to back up the answer.  I tried several times to explain to my son that the first one was wrong, and to explain he was supposed to document this and show the correct answer, but he was confused by the whole process and examples and we both gave up after some frustrating back and forth.

I understand what the CC folks are trying to accomplish, but I don’t believe this is the right way to do it. . .  Unless their intent is to make math more frustrating and thereby dissuading future generations from going into fields heavy in mathematics. My son’s favorite subject used to be math, and instead of reading at night before bed he used to discuss mathematical concepts with me and try to practice doing problems in his head.  He especially liked discussing the concept of infinity.  We don’t do math anymore at bedtime – or any other time during the day.  His new favorite subject is reading.  On the one side that’s great, because he was lagging behind in his reading skills and needed to practice them more, but on the other, that seems like the exact opposite of what pro-CC folks are trying to accomplish.  However I guess I have them to thank my kids’ love of reading.  Unfortunately I have them to thank for their hatred of math as well.

Yes, both my kids hate math now.

My daughter is in third grade now and much of her math revolves around multiplication. Unfortunately Common Core did away with the memorization of multiplication tables and introduced putting hundreds of dots on pages to represent multiplication – through addition.  8 x 9 equals 8 rows of 9 dots instead of 72.  Fun, right?

Now try checking someone’s multiplication (or addition work) with those types of strategies using dots, or pictures like the ones shown above.  Or in this case, require kids to check problems using the strategies I’ve shown or discussed.  Watching paint dry is waaaaaay more interesting than that.  I do hear stories about kids that finally understand math the CC way, and love it.  I have to wonder though, are those the kids (like Olivia in the example above) that we really want designing the bridges, skyscrapers, and airplanes of the future?

This summer we will have to teach my daughter her multiplication tables, and probably cursive writing, ourselves.  Those are subjects that were removed by Common Core and not replaced by the revision committee.  Very little was changed by the revision committee.  The Louisiana committee that was created and assigned the task of reviewing Common Core standards and developing Louisiana standards from them was more than 90% composed of staunch Common Core supporters who simply wanted to provide the Louisiana seal of approval.  Of the few unbiased folks that were on the committee, many resigned in frustration, rather than continue to participate in a Kangaroo review committee created to solve political impasses, not curriculum flaws.

Eureka and Engage New York are not going away.  The tests used to evaluate students and teachers on how well student’s have mastered these “strategies” are not going away either.

President Eisenhower referred to a growing fascist flaw in our system of government he described as the military-industrial complex in his farewell address January 17, 1961. (It’s also sometimes called the military-industrial-congressional complex to be more precise in a US context.) The idea behind the MICC is a three-sided “Iron triangle” around which government policy is really determined outside of the influence of ordinary citizens. Industry provides money to political candidates, who in turn approve policies and spending that support and enrich industry. To provide industry and congress with cover a government funded bureaucracy is created and charged with “overseeing” and distributing the spending (this bureaucracy is led by political appointees who have the political goal of preventing others from interfering with this arrangement.)

Today we have an Educational Industrial Complex but unlike the military industrial one, it is not limited to Congress. In Louisiana this lobby invests in state representatives and senators, as well as State and local school board representatives. In many states, like Louisiana, the EIC has seized control of state departments of education and over the course of the last two presidential terms the EIC has entirely co-opted the US Department of Education.

No single election or committee can stop this perversion of government and industry, and their bastard children of, USED, Common Core, PARCC, Eureka, and Smarter Balanced. Until people start to understand just how deep and complex this problem is the EIC can’t be stopped, at best we can get a brief reprieve by diverting their flow of corruption.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Is Opposition to Eureka Math and Common Core really limited to a few isolated troublemakers, like John White told the American Press?

Recently John White made the claim that only a few isolated pockets of parents in a few parishes are upset about Common Core and Eureka Math.

Small groups of people in several isolated areas of Louisiana, including Calcasieu Parish, are voicing loud opposition to Common Core State Standards, said state Superintendent of Education John White.

“They tend to show up at school boards in numbers that are not large relative to the size of the parish,” White told the American Press editorial board Tuesday. “But they’re large relative to the size of the room where the school board meeting is held.”

I’ve been getting reports from folks from across the state since that statement was made. I would like to put together a spreadsheet/inventory of just how widespread opposition truly is, but I need your help. Please provide information so I can counter John White’s claim that only a few folks from a few isolated communities are upset about Common Core and Eureka Math. My pastor actually made an offhand reference about Common Core Math during one of his sermons a few weeks back and was met with a room full of groans of disgust and frustration. What was remarkable was most of the folks in this service were not parents, but just grandparents, and they had had enough of Common Core. This was not an assembly of gathered for any other reason except to worship, but Common Core, and the math associated is so dreadful it provokes groans of disgust from an entire congregation. I attend church in the middle of Baton Rouge. I’m pretty sure this hatred is thorough and not the least bit isolated.

To help me document this for mainstream media types which don’t have the time or inclination to do this research themselves, please provide what curriculum you use in your parish. If there is organized resistance to it, let me know. If there is a contact person or name you would like to provide, please let me know that as well. I will update this list/post periodically as information comes in. I hope this post will also help connect groups in different “isolated areas of Louisiana” feel less isolated and work together going forward.

 

Please provide your feedback in the comments below. I will transfer summarized data to this spreadsheet. If you wish to be contacted by folks that might research this topic please leave your contact information in your comment as well. if you wish to provide an anonymous update please send your info to crazycrawfish@yahoo.com

 

 

Curriculum Used by School District for the 2014-2015 School Year (as reported by parents) 

Last updated: 10/25/14

Produced by Jason France 

         

LEA 

District/Agn 

Math Curriculum 

ELA Curriculum 

Notes & Contacts (official and Anti-CC)

001 

Acadia Parish

  

  

  

002 

Allen Parish 

  

  

  

003 

Ascension Parish 

Eureka 

Core Knowledge 

 Board members staunchly in favor of CC and Eureka

Lorraine Wimberly (opposed?)

004 

Assumption Parish 

  

  

  

005 

Avoyelles Parish 

 Eureka

  

 Avoyelles Against Common Core

006 

Beauregard Parish 

 Go Math (HMH)

Treasures (MMH)

  

007 

Bienville Parish 

  

  

  

008 

Bossier Parish 

  

  

  

009 

Caddo Parish 

EngageNY 

  

  

010 

Calcasieu Parish 

Eureka 

  

multiple forums, parades,SB meetings against Common Core and Eureka 

011 

Caldwell Parish

  

  

  

012 

Cameron Parish 

  

  

  

013 

Catahoula Parish 

  

  

  

014 

Claiborne Parish 

  

  

  

015 

Concordia Parish 

  

  

  

016 

DeSoto Parish 

  

  

  

017 

East Baton Rouge Parish 

 Go Math (HMH) + EngageNY

  

  

018 

East Carroll Parish 

  

  

  

019 

East Feliciana Parish

  

  

  

020 

Evangeline Parish 

  

  

  

021 

Franklin Parish 

  

  

  

022 

Grant Parish 

  

  

  

023 

Iberia Parish 

 Eureka

  

Iberia Asst. Supt of Instruction: Carey Laviolette calaviolette@iberia.k12.l1.us 337-364-7641

024 

Iberville Parish 

  

  

  

025 

Jackson Parish 

  

  

  

026 

Jefferson Parish 

Eureka 

Core Knowledge 

  

027 

Jefferson Davis Parish 

My Math (SMH)

  

  

028 

Lafayette Parish 

Eureka 

  

Numerous groups opposed to Common Core

029 

Lafourche Parish 

  

  

  

030 

LaSalle Parish 

  

  

 LaSalle Parish Against Common Core

031 

Lincoln Parish 

 Eureka

  

Lincoln Chief Academic Officer: Mike Milstead mmilstead@lincolnschools.org

032 

Livingston Parish 

 Eureka

  

Anti-CC forum being held 10/16/14

Livingston SB contact Director of Curriculum: Dawn Rush

Dawn.rush@lpsb.org

033 

Madison Parish 

  

  

  

034 

Morehouse Parish 

  

  

  

035 

Natchitoches Parish 

 Eureka

  

  

036 

Orleans Parish

  

  

  

037 

Ouachita Parish 

  

  

  

038 

Plaquemines Parish 

  

  

  

039 

Pointe Coupee Parish 

  

  

  

040 

Rapides Parish 

Eureka 

Journeys (HMH)

anti-CC forum/townhall 10/21/14

SB agenda item Nov 5th

Opposition contact: Stephanie Hooke Riley parent of 2

petition to remove over 700 names

041 

Red River Parish 

  

  

  

042 

Richland Parish 

 Eureka

  

  

043 

Sabine Parish 

  

  

  

044 

St. Bernard Parish

  

  

  

045 

St. Charles Parish 

  

  

  

046 

St. Helena Parish 

  

  

  

047 

St. James Parish 

  

  

  

048 

St. John the Baptist Parish 

  

  

  

049 

St. Landry Parish 

 Go Math (HMH)

  

  

050 

St. Martin Parish 

  

  

  

051 

St. Mary Parish 

Eureka 

  

  

052 

St. Tammany Parish

Eureka 

 Core Knowledge

multiple SB meetings resulting in removal of Eureka before end of 2014-2015 School year

Anti-CC townhalls Oct 22 and 27

053 

Tangipahoa Parish 

  

  

Opposition leader: Terra Orgeron

torgeron@hughes.net

054 

Tensas Parish 

  

  

  

055 

Terrebonne Parish 

Eureka + Envision

  

 Some stirring of org, no formal anti-CC

056 

Union Parish 

  

  

  

057 

Vermilion Parish 

     

058 

Vernon Parish 

 Eureka

  

Facebook activity/groups (staunch opposition)

059 

Washington Parish 

  

  

  

060 

Webster Parish 

 EngageNY

  

P Susan Willis Addington (pulled grandson out of public and put in private school)

061 

West Baton Rouge Parish 

EngageNY 

  

 Parents are complaining on Facebook

Crystal Bass Bell, parent

Nov 1,anti-CC townhall

062 

West Carroll Parish 

  

  

  

063 

West Feliciana Parish 

  

  

  

064 

Winn Parish 

  

  

  

065 

City of Monroe School District 

 Eureka

  

  

066 

City of Bogalusa School District 

  

  

  

067 

Zachary Community School District 

  

  

  

068 

City of Baker School District

  

  

  

069 

Central Community School District 

 Eureka

  

  

101 

Special School District 

  

  

  

300 

RSD-UNO New Beginnings Schools Foundation 

  

  

  

302 

Louisiana School For Math Science & the Arts 

  

  

  

304 

LA Schools for the Deaf and the Visually Impaired

  

  

  

306 

Louisiana Special Education Center 

  

  

  

318 

LSU Laboratory School 

  

  

  

319 

Southern University Lab School 

  

  

  

321 

New Vision Learning Academy 

  

  

  

329 

V. B. Glencoe Charter School 

  

  

  

331 

International School of Louisiana

  

  

  

333 

Avoyelles Public Charter School 

  

  

  

336 

Delhi Charter School 

  

  

  

337 

Belle Chasse Academy, Inc. 

  

  

  

339 

Milestone SABIS Academy of New Orleans 

  

  

  

340 

The MAX Charter School 

  

  

  

341 

D’Arbonne Woods Charter School 

  

  

  

342

School For A New Millennium, Inc. 

  

  

  

343 

Community School for Apprenticeship Learning, Inc. 

  

  

  

344 

Voices for International Business & Education 

  

  

  

366 

RSD-Lagniappe Academies of New Orleans 

  

  

  

367 

RSD-Spirit of Excellence Academy 

  

  

  

368 

RSD-Morris Jeff Community School 

  

  

  

369 

RSD-ReNEW Schools 

  

  

  

371 

RSD-Shreveport Charter School, Inc. 

  

  

  

372 

RSD-Crestworth Learning Academy, Inc. 

  

  

  

373 

RSD-Arise Academy 

  

  

  

374 

RSD-Success Preparatory Academy 

 Eureka

  

  

375 

RSD-Benjamin E. Mays Preparatory School

  

  

  

376 

RSD-Pride College Preparatory Academy 

  

  

  

377 

RSD-ADVANCE Baton Rouge 

  

  

  

378 

RSD-100 Black Men Capitol Charter Initiative 

  

  

  

379 

RSD-Advocacy for the Arts & Tech in N.O., Inc. 

  

  

  

380 

RSD-Intercultural Charter School Board, Inc.

  

  

  

381 

RSD-Akili Academy of New Orleans 

  

  

  

382 

RSD-Advocacy for Science and Math Education 

  

  

  

383 

RSD-Sojourner Truth Academy, Inc. 

  

  

  

384 

RSD-Miller-McCoy Academy for Math and Business 

  

  

  

385 

RSD-New Orleans College Preparatory Academies

  

  

  

387 

RSD-NOLA 180 

  

  

  

388 

RSD-Broadmoor Charter School Board 

  

  

  

389 

RSD-Pelican Educational Foundation 

  

  

  

390 

RSD-Dryades YMCA 

  

  

  

391 

RSD-Friends of King 

  

  

  

392 

RSD-New Orleans Charter Schools Foundation

  

  

  

393 

RSD-Choice Foundation 

  

  

  

394 

RSD-Treme Charter Schools Association 

  

  

  

395 

RSD-Algiers Charter Schools Association (ACSA) 

  

  

  

396 

Recovery School District-LDE 

  

  

  

397 

RSD-SUNO Institute for Academic Excellence 

  

  

  

398 

RSD-Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) N.O.

  

  

  

399 

RSD-FirstLine Schools, Inc. 

  

  

  

A02 

Office of Juvenile Justice 

  

  

  

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.

Rapides

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…

 

Calcasieu

 

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

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/10/05/More-Than-800-Turn-Out-For-Common-Core-Town-Hall-in-Louisiana

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.

 

Caddo

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.

http://www.theneworleansadvocate.com/news/10437687-171/st-tammany-school-board-votes

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!

Eureka Math. . . (I can think of another expletive to describe it.)

Eureka Math. . . (I can think of another expletive to describe it.)

This is an update to a story I’ve been meaning to get back to for a while on Louisiana’s textbook selection and adoption process. According to my sources Louisiana required most vendors to pay 500 dollars per book to evaluate each grade level of each subject. I have no details of where those dollars went. I was told this was the first year the department ever charged to review books. I was also told the only two first tier (best according to LDOE) vendors that were selected (Eureka for Math and Core Knowledge for ELA) did not have to pay this fee, but I have not been able to confirm this. I received some information from sources that were able to acquire the lists of all external reviewers of textbooks. I have been able to contact some of these folks to confirm this, and have confirmed their participation through some of their own online postings. I will not be turning over all of the research files as yet, but I will be publishing the names of the Math reviewers. There were only 7 reviewers for the Math curriculum selected for the entire state (15 reviewers were used for the ELA evaluation.) I have tried interviewing and questioning these folks either on or off the record, but none have agreed to comment on the selection process – even after replying to me initially. I would like to know how they were compensated, whether their instructions involved assessing the quality of the materials (which is particularly lacking with the first tier Eureka materials) among other things.

Louisiana Textbook Reviewers by Review Area

Review Area Fname Lname
Math K-5 Brittany Bush (K-5)
Math K-5 Katie Dunn (K-5)
Math K-5 Laci Maniscalco (K-5)
Math K-5 Kristina Morris (K-5)
Math 6-8, 9-12 Aquanetta Archangel
Math 6-8, 9-12 Tamara Whittington
Math 6-8, 9-12 Jessica Hunter

 

My earlier story can be found here: https://crazycrawfish.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/louisianas-texbook-selection-shenanigans/

It appears John White, Superintendent of Education, has links to the only two tier one options selected, including one which is run by his former employers, Joel Klein, now the head of Amplify – a Rupert Murdoch (NewsCorp) subsidiary and sole provider of Core Knowledge published products. If this situation sounds familiar, you aren’t wrong. Jindal’s former head of the Department of Health and Hospitals, Bruce Greenstein, was just indicted on numerous counts of perjury related to tampering with the theoretically unbiased selection process or a 200+ million dollar Medicaid contract with Bruce Greenstein’s former employer, CNSI. I wonder if there is not some unsavory influences at work here as well. I really find it hard to believe Eureka is far and away the best Math product on the market and I’ve had firsthand experience with them and a tier 2 product that while not awesome, is much better than Eureka in my opinion (and my daughter throws fewer tantrums with this new one so I think she’s having an easier time of it too.)

I was provided this preliminary research by my source although you can find much more in LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, school websites, Stand For Children materials, LDOE’s website (lauding the choices with quotes without mentioning they were part of the selection committee), Facebook, etc.

  General Information
bbush@ebrshools.org 225-343-9364 5th grade teacher Capitol Elem http://edenpark.ebrschools.org/explore.cfm/facultystaff/brittanybush
  charter school teacher New Beginnings Charter New Orleans https://www.linkedin.com/pub/katie-dunn/24/1a8/31b
lacimaniscalco@yahoo.com Broadmoor Elem 3rd gr Received $$ stipend and from publisher “LearnZillion” Curr: http://learnzillion.com/dreamteam went to SF, CA http://gettingsmart.com/2012/03/learnzillion-one-of-the-scrappy-startups-making-dc-a-hotspot/
https://www.linkedin.com/pub/kristina-morris/4b/965/3b0 been teaching for 2 years and 3 months
Naturallynette11@gmail.com “GOOGLE” Nette Archangel I.A. Lewis School in Ruston LA, graduate of LA Tech teaching maybe 5 years http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfDPHSzh1y4
tamara.whittington@tangischools.org Hammond Jr HS Magnet
no info Sterlington HS, Ouchita Schools
James Ward Elem in Jennings LA

 

I think my inquiries were pretty non-threatening although I am a stranger. . .

I was given a list of all the folks who reviewed the various textbooks last year and assigned them to various “tiers”.  Only 1 math option and one ELA option made it into tier one.  I am trying to learn more about the process, instructions you were given, and how it came to be that in your case only one math provider, Eureka, made it into Tier one.  We can converse on or off the record.  I have sent or am sending e-mails to all math reviewers.

My children are also in public elementary schools and our LEA chose Eureka after going with a related version, EngageNY last year.  I see some assignments that are interesting, but many that seem overly cumbersome, and with very poor quality in the instructions and examples departments.  I was wondering how closely you and your teammates reviewed these materials, whether you were able to take into account quality and accuracy or materials, whether you really felt these were a solid choice, the best choice, or the best of available bad choices perhaps?  Parents send me examples of their assignments and i see various ones posted different places.

Some teachers firmly embrace Common Core and some have significant problems with it.  From reviewing the profiles of the reviewers i feel pretty sure everyone really embraces Common Core that was on the selection team so i am seeking some perspective and insight from that side of the debate.  Sometimes when we like something, especially more than the alternative, we tend to overlook the flaws or measure them against our past experiences and options.  I was wondering if you think that might have occurred, perhaps in retrospect?  Any insight you can provide will be appreciated.

Thanks,
Jason

Perhaps coworkers can get more out of these folks?

I’m not really interested in calling their motivations into question, but I just want some answers to my questions. However, I do wonder if this set of teachers has all the necessary qualifications to evaluate materials for the entire state. I think it is important for school districts to understand who exactly made these evaluative decisions when factoring how they will invest their limited resources. I know firsthand that EngageNY was terrible, and first tier Eureka (as defined by these reviewers) is just EngageNY that costs money fraught with many of the same issues. Thankfully EBR ditched EngageNY/Eureka this year (they tried it out last year and found it very lacking) and went with a tier 2 product this year which while still perplexing and strangely worded at times, is much less error prone and confusing (or just plain wrong) than EngageNY/Eureka. Many parents are discovering this the hard way. I think the department and these evaluators should answer whether they felt comfortable evaluating this curriculum for the entire state. Several teachers only had a few years of teaching experience under their belts, yet they were responsible for evaluating 6 or more grade levels of content.

What are your thoughts on the math materials/curriculum your school district has adopted? It seems St Tammany and Calcasieu parents are pretty dissatisfied with Eureka based on the school board meetings I’ve seen reviewed in the news (and from parents on Facebook) . . .

Did the state really identify the best curriculum available by selecting Eureka, or do you think they really dropped the ball here?

Is this the test-tube creation of John White?

The Violence and Hatred of Common Core Fanatics

The Violence and Hatred of Common Core Fanatics

It may come as no surprise to those of you/us who have been trying to point out the deficiencies of Common Core, that our input is often met with derision, hatred, venom and now even threats of violence. When I first wrote an article about my experience in with Common Core about a year ago I admit I did not fully understand what was going on, and that I was perplexed and confused by the homework at times. Many of us were. I understand Engage NY Curriculum is not the same as the Common Core standards, but it is derived from them and entirely related and relevant to discussions of Common Core. Moreover, in Louisiana the only State approved Tier 1 resource that LDOE endorses is Eureka, which is the “paid” version of Engage NY. From what I’ve seen this year the only difference between the two is that districts have to pay for Eureka products, and the branding at the bottom of the resource worksheets.

I wrote an entry on my blog to explain how many parents were feeling and because no one in power was listening to the complaints and concerns of parents. Many of us felt marginalized and maligned rather than engaged or listened too. Many folks who embrace the standards, like this teacher that recently posted on my blog talked to us this way when we expressed our concerns:

Sarah Berry, teacher (and provider of Common Core Teaching materials?)

Are all you people Fin crazy? Not a one of you know what the hell you are talking about. If parents can’t add their doubles then we have a bigger problem than we realize. As for the author of the original article; spend more time doing research than criticizing curriculum that you have no idea about. You have no degree in curriculum development (that is obvious) nor do you have a degree in education, your expertise is that you have a child. Just like you have a background in mathematics; that’s right, you had math in school and you learned just fine. Again, obviously not if you don’t know the benefits of doubles. What addition facts give most first graders difficulty? Oh that’s right, you don’t know your doubles so how in the hell would you know 6+7 or 8+9 or 5+7 Doubles helps student make sense of new problems by using their prior knowledge, something you have obviously lost! 6+7 can be seen as 6+6+1 more and is called a doubles plus one. Or you 6+7 could be seen as 7+7-1 and is called doubles minus one. But since your head is so far up your ass and you can only see how “you” were taught, not the benefits of teaching kids the “mathematics” vs. the short cut. When you get your teaching degree, earn your masters in curriculum design, spend time actually in the classroom teaching students, work as an administrator along side professional teachers, then you can write a blog regarding Engage NY math curriculum. And please do all the teachers in your area a favor, don’t have another child just because you can!

I had reports of many parents across various school districts being addressed this way by their teacher and other Common Core proponents. Perhaps Sarah does have all the credentials she implies she has, but what she does not have is people skills or the ability to work well with others. She may not want me to have any more children, but I don’t want her to be “teaching” any more children or engaging with any more parents. Based on this comment I would judge her as a disgrace to her profession. Fortunately not all teachers feel the same way Sarah does or I would be waging a war on teachers the way Reformers do. I actually try to support teachers and engage them constructively and I don’t think they should be evaluated just on a test score tied to a student tied to Common Core, like most, if not all, Common Core supporters do.

As victories are being made across the country against Common Core, it is clear that the strategy of marginalized and mocking parents and making children cry as a measure of rigor is not working. Amazingly this type of antagonistic attack below does more to enflame passions and solidify positions, but I’m sure it made the poster of this comment feel superior for a little while.

Chris Jenson (parent?)

And there are alleged teachers who completely agree with you in the comments. Amazing. I feel forced to point out that, as an adult who went through the old educational system, your clear lack of cognitive ability and problem solving skills, and most horrifyingly the “teachers” who agree with you, are the most telling examples of why we needed education reform in the first place.

I have seen and endured (and sometimes deleted) many of the comments because of racists, classist, and bizarre defenses that included call me and other parents [Expletive] Libertards, an ignorant hillbilly, nazi [expletive], redneck Teabilly/bagger, educational knuckle dragger, etc. I’m sure many parents have endured these insults also. At meetings I’ve attended or others have attended we endured hour upon hour of insults at the hand of Common Core supporters from LABI, Stand For Children, the Louisiana Charter Association, APEL, TFA, Chas Roemer [BESE President) talking to his sister Caroline Roemer Shirley (head of Louisiana Charter Association), as well as representatives from Exxon. We don’t all wear badges to identify who we support and oppose, Senate Education Chair Senator Apel, and these folks were quite brutal and obnoxious in their assessment of our intelligence, possible inbreeding, and sincerity of our tears being shed. We do listen quietly, and nod, and the report back. You have shown your true colors and made us enemies, probably permanently.

This situation is really unfortunate. I have come to meet some teachers that I believe really believe (it appears largely faith based) that these standards will help children. These teachers literally preach the gospel of Common Core, as they tell us in 10 to 12 years we will begin to see the fruits of our labor. I do not have the background in teacher, nor do I have your faith in a system that is fundamentally overly bureaucratic and flawed and that refuses to admit to its shortcomings. I cannot have faith in something that was sold under false pretenses to the American Public and which continues to be sold with lies by proven liars, Reformers.

It may be that Common Core, developed slowly and truly collaboratively, introduced gradually and with forethought and consideration of all stakeholders could have been successful.

If Common Core had not been tied to High Stakes tests for grading teachers it might be easier for people to buy this is for children and not corporations that seek to privatize education.

If concerns had been addressed thoughtfully and respectfully and if there was some local autonomy in the adoption, and possible changes to areas that even the developers of Common Core have realized they had to make it might have been more palatable to folks.

If Arne Duncan had not forced this upon states through Race to the Top Grants and ESEA waivers to free states of impossible No Child Left Behind standards it would have had less of a Federal Takeover feel.

If the messengers of Common Core were not many times proven liars about charter schools, Value Added assessments of teachers, virtual schools, massive school closings of poor children’s schools, and purveyors of temp teachers over experienced and more expensive ones it would have been met with less immediate skepticism.

If Common Core had not been adopted sight unseen in many(most) states, like Louisiana, and a true discussion had taken place, it would have been hard to say this was done clandestinely. Lying about this situation and telling parents the standards were around for 4 years ignores the fact that many parents had not been exposed to it until recently. It was your job, as education leaders, to reach out to parents and engage them before this blew up in your faces. You failed to do that and now you have a mess. Parents immediately objected when they were exposed to it for the first time, but you (officials and official channels) ignored them and forced them to create a grassroots movement bound by social media to spread the word and oppose you. No matter how many times Will Sentell from the Advocate prints that it was around for 4 years (since 2010) without objection or controversy, it does not alter the fact that most parents and children were not exposed to it, and when they did they immediately freaked out and were completely marginalized, ignored and disparaged by even the Secretary of the Us Department of education.

“All of a sudden, their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought … and that’s pretty scary,” Duncan said at the event Friday.

Do these folks really not get it, or do they think they can simply bully and bulldoze their way over parents like they have been doing to our children and teachers for years?

Now that parents have former their own channels of passing information and started to rack up some victories in various states, some supporters of Common Core are getting scared, and getting angry. People like Michael Mulgrew, Head of the United Federation of Teachers, are directing their anger at the wrong people.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/michael-mulgrew-defends-common-core-punch-face-tools-article-1.1895301

Teachers union honcho Michael Mulgrew unleashed a venomous screed directed at anyone who would dare threaten his beloved Common Core agenda.

 “If someone takes something from me, I’m going to grab it right back out of their cold, twisted, sick hands and say it is mine! You do not take what is mine!” the head of the United Federation of Teachers shouted in a speech at a convention last month in Los Angeles.

The rant was posted Thursday to the Ed Notes Online blog.

“And I’m going to punch you in the face and push you in the dirt because this is the teachers’!” added Mulgrew.

Punching parents in the face might seem like a good idea to Common Core supporters, since their lies have failed to convince parents, maybe fear and anger will force them to back down? I kind of doubt it though. What it has done for me is to settle into a state of resignation. I can see you guys don’t want to talk. When you did talk you lied, and we caught you. Then you lied some more and we caught you again. Then you ignored us and shoved this down our throats and mocked us. You told us no one gives a shit what we think or feel like David Coleman, architect of Common Core, because that’s really how you see the world and our place in it.

(You can see the Coleman clip in the link below)

http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/tag/people-really-dont-give-a-shit-how-you-feel/

Now Common Core proponents are using strong-arm tactics and threats of violence and telling us we are too stupid to have any children for you to teach. I admit, I do not want you teaching my children either. Many parents have been pulling their children out of public schools to homeschool them to escape teachers like you. That will work for a time, but I know corporations are forcing Common Core in private schools and homeschool legislation is next. In fact, in order for parents to be allowed to continue to homeschool their kids, they must still teach them some Common Core to pass the required tests. This is why you will find many parents that are now homeschooling their children continuing the fight against Common Core.

Will we simply wait 12 years for things to work out? I doubt we would have to wait that long for these to change, but not because of the needs of students. Now that textbook and testing corporations are so intimately involved with these “Standards” and the textbooks and supplemental materials that go with them, we can be sure they will be changing pretty quickly in ways that force the previous textbooks and materials into planned obsolesce so they can sell more, more frequently.

I am tired of trying to convince people by showing them an example here or a lie there. This becomes a never-ending cycle of lies and examples and counter-examples. I will even concede that some of the content and standards appear fine or even good in some cases. When we redesign our own curriculum I hope to keep the good, discard the bad, but most importantly retain local control of what and how we teach without regard for High Stakes Testing, just High Quality Learning. What is clear is that this was done poorly and that those that support this initiative failed to address the concerns of all stakeholders, and have switched to even more aggressive tactics which have permanently poisoned the well of public support.

 

 

Louisiana’s Texbook Selection Shenanigans

Louisiana’s Texbook Selection Shenanigans

I was recently contacted to investigate some the selection process used by LDOE to select their textbook vendors for the upcoming school year. I was informed that LDOE had chosen only a single vendor for Tier 1 status for ELA and Math, and that districts were being told if they did not choose one of these two vendors they would face sanctions and punitive actions from the Department. The vendors selected were Eureka, for Math, and Core Knowledge for ELA (English Language Arts).

Eureka Math

Eureka is the bastard love child of Engage New York, (sometimes referred to as EnRage New York) and the Common Core creators themselves and sometimes referred to as merely an Engage NY that you pay for. Engage NY is a “free” Common Core aligned curriculum resource created with funding from a multi-million dollar grant (around 12 or 13 million if I recall) provided by the New York department of Education. (Theoretically LSU had a hand in the development of this curriculum as well. I met with Dr. James Madden from LSU about a few months ago and he confirmed he was personally involved.) Several districts in Louisiana, including EBR where my kids attend, had the misfortune of adopting Engage NY this past year. Engage NY was widely acknowledged in much of the media as confusing and plagued with errors on most of their instructional materials. I created a post this year on my first graders homework that went viral and still gets a lot of attention (including just yesterday when comic Louis C.K. went on a Twitter rant against his third grader’s Common Core homework and someone posted my article as an example of the absurdity of Common Core Math.) Despite numerous available products, Louisiana is the only state to define Eureka as their sole Math aligned provider solution.


Could this really be the only aligned product on the market, or is there more going on here?

Why is Louisiana the only State in the nation that figured this out?

Amazing.

Core Knowledge

Core Knowledge is “free” online curriculum provider.
The Core Knowledge Foundation was founded in 1986 by E. D. Hirsch, Jr., professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. However recently the foundation sold the rights to reproduce and sell material to Amplify, a Rupert Murdoch NewsCorp company headed by Louisiana Superintendent of Education’s last bosses from New York, Joel Klein, and Kristen Kane. While marketed as “free” these products are unusable by most school districts in their “free” state, and the Amplify versions are far from free:

Amplify and Newscorp looks to make a killing here, on free material that they sell for anything but free. They are leveraging this into getting folks to buy expensive supplemental materials, or subscription services to digital tablets for 200 dollars year, before you even get any customized software!

Nice Score, Rupert and Joel. Louisiana looks to be taking Mississippi’s place as the poorest state in the Union after you are through with us.

 

So what else did I find?

I did not hear any specific reports from school districts that confirmed schools and districts would be penalized directly for choosing to go with another product. What I did see was a lot of overt pushing from the department to adopt these vendors and their materials. (If you have a story that confirms this allegation please send it to me at crazycrawfish@yahoo.com .) LDOE is only providing professional development and support to teachers of schools and districts that adopt one of these two products.

Both of these products have free online only versions of their material. However if your school district does not provide a laptop and internet connection to every single student in your district, this won’t help very much. School districts will have to spend a lot of time and resources printing out the materials of these vendors in districts that don’t provide tablets or laptops to every student. So either districts will have to spend hundreds of dollars per student to provide tablets and or more for laptops as well as the infrastructure to support such an investment (laptops don’t fix themselves and they break quite often in the hands of even well intentioned kids) or they will have to print out entire textbooks for each student every year. Those printed versions will have to be replaced every year since you can’t expect unbound copies of printout to me reusable. Printing out this material also negates any value of online interaction and will yield a substandard product devoid of color pictures (unless districts want to spend more annually on temporary printouts than they would on real textbooks once every 5 to 10 years or so.)

Here is one of the many messages that the Department has sent out pimping Eureka and Core Knowledge. John White states curriculum is a local choice, meanwhile he only provides one choice for school districts to choose from, and helpfully provides pricing information and offers to give support only to districts that select this one vendor.

February 11, 2014

Superintendent’s Message

Dear Colleagues:

 Thanks to District Planning Teams across the state, Louisiana’s plan for increased, intensive support of curriculum, assessment, and technology plans has launched successfully. Already, guided by the District Planning Guide, districts are reviewing their technology assessments and examining 2015 sample test questions. This week the Department will begin to share the results of its instructional review process, designed to provide districts information on curricula that are aligned to new academic expectations. In weeks to follow, the Department will produce curriculum guidebooks that help teachers to plan for the school year.

 It is important to note that curriculum will remain an issue for local schools and school systems to select and create. Curriculum is a local choice in Louisiana. [You may choose among any of the following one choices. Take your time. Oh, and here are some curriculum guidebooks the State has created for you to use as your local choice.]

In order to assist local schools and districts in making those choices, over the last four months the Department has solicited math textbooks from publishers for review to determine their level of alignment with the Common Core State Standards. Teachers and state staff together reviewed the submissions, carefully scrutinizing each for full alignment and the in-depth demonstration of skills expected of students on new assessments, and listing each with a “tier” representing its level of alignment. “Tier three” textbooks demonstrate minimal alignment; “tier two” textbooks demonstrate moderate alignment; “tier one” textbooks demonstrate full alignment. Schools and districts can then use this information as they see fit in planning for next year.

While the Department will continue to release textbook reviews over the coming weeks, in order to allow you and your teams access to early information, we are announcing that at this time Eureka Math was the lone submitted math curriculum demonstrating full alignment with the Common Core State Standards in mathematics. As a result, the Department will be launching a set of increased supports for those districts and schools choosing to adopt this curriculum, and your district will be able to get a head start on planning for next year: [Increased supports, means only supporting this choice. The State department of Education is only endorsing one vendor, and endorsing them hard up to advertising their products on their website and in e-mails to them. Does anyone know if that’s legal? Not that it matters, John White ignores the law with impunity, I was just wondering.]

 Access Eureka Math materials:

  • Eureka Math is currently and will remain free for download and district/school printing.
  • Eureka Math is now also available for purchase. Student workbooks and printed teacher editions are both available. 
  • The state is working to finalize a state-wide contract with locked in Louisiana prices for these printed materials and will be available March 1st.  
  • Eureka Math professional development: The Department will provide over 1,000 Eureka Math professional development seats beginning in June through the summer and fall.  In addition, the Department is securing lower purchase costs for Eureka PD. Click here to see an overview of the Eureka Math PD offerings available for purchase.  Lower prices along with a state contract and free training details will be available by March 1st. 
  • Additional math support:  In addition, the department will begin releasing math guidebooks on March 1st. These guide books will include rigorous instructional tasks, practice assessment items, and guidance on standard by standard remediation. The items included here are samples of the materials soon to be available in the math guidebooks.  

 We will share information regarding English language arts next week.

Our state’s choice [My choice, John White, and mine alone. Even the Governor is speaking out against it. The majority of the State is rejecting Common Core by about 70%. Those for it do not have children being subjected to it or are profiting from it as a general rule.] to adopt higher expectations for student work will pay great dividends for our state and its children. But our teachers must have the tools and training needed to make the shift. Provided tools, support, and time to learn the new expectations, they will thrive. As so will kids. [<==is this Common Core English? These are the folks evaluating out textbooks? Lord, help us all.]

 As always, thank you for all you do for our children,

 John  

 John White

Louisiana Department of Education

Sounds more like a sales pitch than a simple endorsement. All of the districts I spoke to had already selected vendors on their own. It makes sense though. If you are a district, why would you wait for a year after implementation to select a vendor? Only new districts should really be in this boat . . . like new charter schools or like RSD, which is state run. Could this be a creative way to support only charter schools, RSD and select allies with a heads up about these selections beforehand?

Apparently the review of materials was mostly cursory. Some might suggest LDOE already had the exact vendors it intended to go with in mind before the review even began. I received reports of vendors reported hearing back their materials were placed in a lower tier almost immediately. This did not stop LDOE from breaking with tradition and charging each vendor 500 dollars per textbook to review.

I wondered how they managed this feat so I looked at the actual reviews. Here is an example of one. If they answered a “No” to any of the first 4 “non-negotiable” questions, the reviewers skipped the rest of the review process. Sort of a like a get out of reviewing free card, but thanks for the 500 bucks.

 

As you will see from the link below. Only Core Knowledge and Eureka fit the approved profile. Interesting enough, we’re nearing the need of the school year and the beginning of the special professional development John White has advertised, and he still has no supported vendor for grades 4-12 for ELA. Wow. I wonder when districts will be notified which vendor they should be jump into purchasing in May to attend these workshops which I was told are starting in June before the School year starting in August?

http://www.louisianabelieves.com/academics/2013-2014-math-and-english-language-arts-instructional-materials-review/curricular-resources-annotated-reviews

 

So to recap:

  • John White has only selected a single vendor that is complaint with his rigorous standards. One is the patent holder of Common Core, which shares the patent with CCSSO, an organization John White and Holly Boffy work for when they are not being Superintendent and BESE members for Louisiana. The other is Core Knowledge which was bought by Rupert Murdoch and is run by two folks he used to work for in New York City.
  • John White has pimped these products on department letterhead and on the Department website, complete with links to these products.
  • John White has decided only districts that adopt these products will get oodles of professional support and development.
  • Most districts have already selected materials before his announcements.
  • Training on these products begins next month, and he has not defined all the products for all the grade levels in May.
  • Districts will not get textbooks if they use the free products, they will have to either print them out at a cost comparable to buying textbooks, but which are not reusable every year and of substandard quality, or districts will have to buy laptops and home internet connectivity for all students. (This will be a great deal only for virtual charter schools which already do this.)

Maybe students and teachers should simply employ John White’s trademark motto,” Louisiana Believes” can just “Believe”?

Maybe if they believe real hard they can imagine themselves up some textbooks for next year?

In the meantime, you better believe that John White will be making sure Rupert Murdoch and Common Core make a killing off of the only two vendors that are good enough for John White (and his future career opportunities.)