Guest Essay: Why Common Core Should Bother All Republicans




“Our current system of top-heavy, bureaucratic, centrally planned education is failing to ensure the quality of education our children need and deserve. Therefore, we support measures that maintain the independence of Louisiana schools from the federal government. We support keeping all Louisiana education dollars in Louisiana without going to maintain unneeded bureaucrats at the national level.

Real education reform means local control of curriculum, budget, textbook selection, and personnel in the public schools. We believe parents must have complete access to all information concerning curriculum and activities used in educating their children, and we believe parents must have access to all materials used for teacher development in the public school system.”

Considering the push to promote the Common Core State Standards Initiative in the state of Louisiana by many of our Republican legislators, it is surprising to note that the above quotes are from the platform of the Republican Party of Louisiana.


Since the implementation of these standards has begun in our state, citizens are educating themselves about the full agenda associated with Common Core. There are several Republican legislators in Louisiana who are aware of this and are working hard to rid Common Core from our state. Fortunately, this number is growing.


Many Republicans, like me, are wondering how other legislators, particularly Republicans, can support something which is in complete opposition to the platform which they are supposed to uphold. Have some of our elected Republicans failed to realize that when they run as a Republican and are elected as a Republican, their constituents expect them to vote and make decisions as a Republican as well as remain true to their party?


Common Core does not align with what Republicans represent. It does not align with our country represents. Both the Republican National Committee and the National Federation of Republican Women have been able to see this and both organizations passed resolutions opposing the Common Core State Standards.


Recently, US Representative Jeff Duncan (R-SC) sponsored a bill to retain state authority over education and denounce Obama’s coercion of states to adopt Common Core. Forty-two Republican representatives co-sponsored this resolution, including Louisiana’s John Fleming. There was also a similar Senate Resolution 345 drafted by Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and co-sponsored by nine other Republicans.


The driving force behind creation of these resolutions is due to the amount of authority that these national standards and their associated assessments take from the local districts and states and gives to the federal government. This action is in violation of the United States Constitution which does not give a role to the federal government in dictating what is taught and how it is tested in our children’s classrooms. During a 2010 speech to UNESCO, United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated,


“Traditionally, the federal government has had a limited role in education policy. The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more.”


It seems that Mr. Duncan forgot that it is the Constitution that has limited the role of the federal government in education, not tradition.


The federal government’s role in this initiative is undeniable. After the Bill Gates-funded standards were developed, the federal government worked hard to coerce the states to adopt them through the Race to the Top competitive grant, NCLB waivers, and Title I funds. In Obama’s Blueprint for Reform, it states:


“Beginning in 2015, formula funds will be available only to states that are implementing assessments based on college- and career-ready standards that are common to a significant number of states.”


This report failed to mention that college-ready is defined by Common Core standards creator Dr. Jason Zimba as meaning ready for a non-selective community college, not a four-year college.


The federal government is also exerting its control through its agreement with participating states in the testing consortia (PARCC and SBAC), which are funded exclusively by the federal government. The purpose of these groups is to create the Common Core-aligned assessment tests and provide individual student data to the US Dept. of Education – which can share it with whomever they choose due to recent changes to the FERPA law. They will also provide curriculum frameworks to assist teachers. This is in direct violation of the General Education Provisions Act. In the cooperative agreements between the US Dept. of Education and the member states, it mandates that these participating states report fully and often to the US Dept. of Education, produce:


“all student-level data in a manner consistent with an industry-recognized open-licensed interoperability standard” that is approved by the Department and must “working with the Department to develop a strategy to make student-level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis for research, including for prospective linking, validity, and program improvement studies; subject to applicable privacy laws.”


It is obvious that the largest overreach of the federal government occurs within its role in SBAC and PARCC. Since high-stakes assessment tests ultimately result in teachers feeling pressured to “teach to the test,” the curriculum will inevitably be developed based upon these federally-funded tests. By default, the control of curriculum will not remain in the hands of our local school districts. It will be our federal government who is in charge of what and how our children learn.


Critics of the Common Core initiative, including myself, are not misinformed but rather quite educated on what is behind this particular attempt at education reform.


  • We reject what our state officials are trying to force on us.


  • We are aware that this is an attempt to improve our workforce, not an attempt to improve education.


Common Core is a political movement that is being driven by money and an agenda.


Now, we are just waiting to see the next step of our Republican legislators.


  • Will they give in to the big businesses who are promoting Common Core because of their potential future profits or their belief that these unproven, untested standards will provide them with a better workforce?


  • Will they continue to arrogantly assume they know what is best and blame the criticism on “hysteria”?


  • Will they act as elitists, or will they listen to their constituents who are loudly rejecting the initiative of Common Core?


Big businesses might be able to provide funds and support campaigns, but the common citizens are the ones who can provide votes. We are watching to see if our Republican legislators will remain true to the platform of their party and true to the beliefs of their constituents. We will remember what they decide when we next cast our votes.






Let me just start by saying I am not a Republican do it would probably be inappropriate for me to write this piece. I’m also not a Democrat, Tea party member, Greenie, Reform Party member, or Libertarian. I share some of the same beliefs and goals as each of these parties, but I am not beholden to any of them. Throughout my life I’ve thought I belonged to one or another of these groups, but over time I realized I didn’t want to belong to anyone but myself and my own ideals. That’s not to say any of these groups are inherently “bad” or wrong or that belonging to a political party is bad or wrong, just that doing so does not work for me personally. Every day I see more and more dysfunction in Washington and in our own Capital, and every day I feel a little better about my own personal decision. There are advantages to belonging to a party such as money, organization, and in some cases matching animal symbols. (If Democrats had cooler symbols than elephants and donkeys, like Griffin’s and Dragons I might change my mind, but I am in no hurry to commit myself to such an uncool symbols. . . and besides, doing so would clash with my whole Crawfish angle.)

Political Parties have platforms. These are the ideals ideas and stances that drive their agenda, or at least they are supposed to. Many people are drawn to these ideals and principles and commit themselves to upholding supporting them through a collective effort, through their party. What I have seen too often is parties that fail uphold their own ideals, or allow outside money and influence to dictate how actively they pursue their goals. In some cases I’ve seen parties take the exact opposite of their proclaimed stance. I would understand that approach if it was done openly, but all too often it is not. I sometimes switch my longer held beliefs when presented with new information, circumstances or realizations. For instance; when I was in my teens and twenties I prized personal freedom above safety, now that I have kids to protect I am much more appreciative of sobriety checkpoints, metal detectors, and ID checks at cash registers and movie theatres. I think that is a natural progression and I will be the first to admit it and I see nothing dishonest about that type of personal evolution. What I have a problem with is what one of my readers, Anna Arthurs, describes. When a group forsakes and abandons its own ideals and values it betrays all of the members who had committed to that group and those beliefs it loses all credibility in the eyes of its members.

Obama’s education policies that widen the divide between the haves and have nots and promote a corporate takeover of Curriculum and schools, for the purpose of raising campaign funds and enriching wealthy donors will drive a lot of folks from the Democrat party. I wonder if the Republican embracement of nearly identical policies will drive a similar flight from their party as well? I see that happening if they continue to lie to their constituents about promoting local control over Big Government, corporate rights to educate and control children over parent’s rights to determine what is right for their own children. Frankly, I don’t see that as a winning stance for any Party, but I have no doubt it could be a very profitable one as there will be plenty of money available to those willing to sell out their constituents. Which way will Republicans take on this issue? According to their “Platform” they took the right way, but according to their actions . . . ?


Stop Common Core Rally info – Downtown Baton Rouge – September 28, 2013 (10-12)

Stop Common Core Rally info – Downtown Baton Rouge – September 28, 2013 (10-12)


Stop Common Core Coalition of Louisiana

PLACE: Dept. of Education BESE, 1201 N Third St., Baton Rouge LA

DATE: Saturday, September 28, 2013

TIME: 10:00am – 12:00pm

Concern(Ed) Parents Protecting the Dreams of their Children
announces a press conference and rally to bring awareness to all citizens of the insurmountable flaws of the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI).  This Initiative of reforms includes untested standards, privacy issues created through data mining, unconstitutional mandates for adherence to a national curriculum and a standardized test Partnership for Assessment for College and Career Readiness (PARCC).

All are in direct violation of the rights of parents in the State of Louisiana.  According to the Louisiana Children’s Code Preamble: “Parents have the paramount right to raise their children in accordance with their own values and traditions; that parents should make the decisions regarding the educational, moral, ethical, and religious training of the child.” The CCSSI is educationally unsound offering a limited view of education as preparation for college and the workforce without regard for the creativity and curiosity that engages students and produces life-long learners and innovative thinkers. The national curriculum produced for CCSSI is set up for a national standardized test (PARCC) which cannot evaluate complex thought, avoid cultural bias, or measure non-verbal learning. Nationalized standards are no longer a measure of performance but mandate a proficiency level that does not represent the individual potential of every child.

Our message is clear. We are not misinformed. We know what the Common Core State Standard Initiative is, and we REJECT it. Therefore, we are demanding that Governor Jindal and the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education withdraw from the CCSI and its PARCC testing consortium.

The federal government and private organizations have imposed the Standards on the states. They have done so in a manner that denied the people and their elected legislators a meaningful chance to review the Standards and to consider the implications of participation in the Common Core Standards system, including assessments and data collection. The federal constitutional structure – a compound republic with a separation of powers – serves to protect our liberties and governance by the people. The Common Core Standards Initiative and Race to the Top misused that structure by taking the people’s money and forcing their elected representatives to decide whether to compete for a chance to get that money back, and did so without respecting the states’ responsibility to put the issue to their people. We are now coming to terms with some of consequences of evading the constitutional structure. Those consequences include national standards that – contrary to the creators’ claim of academic rigor – are of inferior academic quality, that rest on a philosophy of education contrary to our founding, that undermine state autonomy and parental involvement, that intrude on student and family privacy, and that will impose enormous costs on state taxpayers.

The final chapter of this story, we believe, will be a rededication to the principle of government by the people. The American people are now awakening to the reality that their states have surrendered control to “experts,” who are delivering a product that falls profoundly short of its billing. State elected bodies now have the chance to reverse this. They have the chance to reassert the people’s right to self-determination. For the sake of our founding principles, they should do so. – (Controlling Education From the Top Why Common Core Is Bad for America – A Pioneer Institute and American Principles Project White Paper by Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins)

STOP COMMON CORE IN LOUISIANA is a coalition of concern parents working together to bring awareness to this Federal overreach called The Common Core Standards Initiative. We are committed in Standing for Educational Freedom and will work tirelessly to Keep Education Local.


Parents and Educators against Common Core in Louisiana 

Catholic School Parents against Common Core in New Orleans

Stop Common Core in Louisiana




Low test scores are the symptom, not “the Disease”

Low test scores are the symptom, not “the Disease”

Recently my posting has started dropping off because of some nasty fatigue issues that seemed to come out of nowhere. (Hopefully you haven’t noticed the lull too much, as I have quite a few pieces I’m working on at any given time, and researching others.) Sometimes a recent event or flash of insight drives me to squeeze one out in the wee hours of the morning, so I assumed that was the cause of my fatigue issues – and other aches and pains. Things got a lot worse all of a sudden and I decided I needed to go the doc to have him check me out.

Apparently I looked like I felt. First my PCP and then the specialist he sent me too (and every nurse in between) commented immediately on how crappy I looked and how horrible I must feel.

Usually I only go to the doctor when I have a bad sinus infection or cold, or for the occasional physical (or lightning strike like this summer), so I was a little taken aback by these declarations. I didn’t feel great, but this was “my normal” these days so didn’t think of myself in the context of unhealthy. I was just my new normal, basically.

After checking me over the doctor shook his head and dryly asked me if I wanted to continue living. I replied that I hadn’t made any other plans, so thought I’d try sticking around for a while, you know, at least until something better came along. Unfazed by my reply he continued “well, if you want to stick around, you’re going to have to make some changes. For starters you’re going to have to lose 30 or 40 pounds, or anything else I give you in the meantime won’t mean much in the long-term.” I can tell just by looking at your throat and sinuses you have sleep apnea, made a lot worse by being overweight. That high blood pressure you have is probably because of the apnea and partly because you’re overweight. You’ve developed acid reflux, and I see from your chart you have high cholesterol and bad everything else because you are overweight. I can treat your symptoms, we can talk about giving you corrective surgery to fix your unusually long tongue that extends too far back into your throat (yeah, that was as weird hearing that as it sounds reading it) and your really badly deviated septum, but if you don’t fix that weight problem I’m just delaying the inevitable.

Since then I’ve been thinking about my appointment and diagnosis and how it would be a lot easier just to take another pill, when something occurred to me. How I was responding to the situation was exactly how we, as a society, always find it easier to understand and treat the symptoms, and sometimes make things worse.

For instance, I think it’s universally accepted we have a problem with gun related deaths and shootings, although no consensus on what to do about it.  In the process of talking about restricting rights and access to guns, gun advocates have actually loosened laws controlling guns, and gun and ammo sales have gone through the roof. We have a gun obsession/culture problem, mental health problems, and a segment of society that feels like government is the enemy and needs to be guarded against, no matter the cost. If we don’t change these root causes of our gun problem, its unlikely any laws or legislation will provide anything but a crude band-aid that may do more damage when it’s torn off than the wound it was designed to protect.

We also have a poverty problem and an income inequality problem. There is a strong correlation between test scores and poverty. This correlation crosses racial, ethnic, regional, and international lines. Low test scores are not the problem, they are the symptom. They are a predictor we can use to identify poverty, just like we can use blood sugar readings to identify folks with diabetes. We can give people drugs to control their blood sugar levels, but this does not cure the diabetes. There is a popular belief running through society and education circles right now, that if we can only raise test scores for impoverished students, we can ignore the poverty. There is a belief that by treating the test scores “symptom,” we will erase the disease of endemic poverty.

Just like being overweight causes all sorts of “symptoms” and ancillary diseases and can be treated with any number of medications and surgeries, the stark reality is that if you don’t treat the underlying problem, the obesity, you are just masking the symptom, not treating the disease. The over reliance on testing and test scores, and the all-consuming drive to raise them is our society’s latest and greatest “miracle pill,” and quite likely a cure that will prove to be much worse than the symptom or even the disease. Test score preachers will have you believe that if we can only fix two things in a child’s, their reading score and math score, the rest of their life will be smooth sailing, problem solved.

In the Atlanta testing scandal (and in the upcoming DC Michele Rhee scandal), teachers and administrators simply changed the scale to distort the readings, by erasing wrong test answers and putting correct ones. In that case nothing happened but altering the test results, yet these “successes” we lauded as proof that test scores could be raised and outcomes dramatically changed. These successes were then touted and exported to other educational markets. Michele Rhee has made a career of touting the importance of falsely raising test scores without ever proving a correlation between her “remedy” and a lasting cure. Now we find many of these miracle cures were nothing more than snake oil, masking the symptoms of the larger poverty disease which still burns and eats away at the core of our society and our children. While now the focus is on the cheating that took place, and punishing those responsible, still we ignore the question of whether raising a test score is a cure in the first place!

It sure would be nice if I could just get a positive airflow machine (ok not really, who wants to wear a mask all night?), fix my sleep apnea and that would be the end of the story. I take plenty of pills that lower all my symptoms (at first it was just one or two but now I’m close to 8 or so) but none of them fix my weight problem. The longer I wait to address my underlying problem, the more pills I will have to take. Eventually I won’t be able to take them anymore. Now you may say, everyone dies. And while that’s true, that doesn’t mean we all have to die tomorrow or be miserable up until the day we finally do kick the bucket.

Raising math and reading test scores is just treating a few very meager symptoms of a very complex problem. A higher test score doesn’t get a poor child to a doctor when they have a medical necessity and need treatment for a real disease.  5 more points on a reading score doesn’t fill a hungry belly, or one subsisting on unhealthy nutritionless sugar-based calories – because they are cheaper and accessible. A slightly higher math score might make a tight-wad billionaire or three feel better about their education agenda, but it doesn’t watch a child in the evenings and make sure they stay out of trouble – while mommy and daddy work two jobs just to put even empty calories on the table. Eliminating music and art teachers from schools to replace them with computers that ceaselessly test and drill your children in exercises might just raise their test scores a little, but that computer doesn’t “get” Picasso and Mozart and it does nothing to feed their souls, or expand their horizons or imaginations.

Raising test scores might make Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch feel good, but have no illusions about curing the disease of poverty. Actual cures take more resources, more commitment, more money; a more holistic approach, not an absurdly limited one.

Would you believe anyone who tells you that you can eat as much as you want, never exercise, eat only the unhealthiest foods and take 2 little miracle pills and you will live a long and prosperous life? Do you really believe we can ignore all of the challenges poverty brings to children and families, and believe just raising their test scores a few points on a standardized test will make everything ok?

Do you believe that, or is it just easier to believe that. . . and to keep pretending that we don’t have a real problem?

Problem solved!
Problem solved!

Who do you believe: Childless carpetbagger John White or a Louisiana public school parent?

Who do you believe: Childless carpetbagger John White or a Louisiana public school parent?

In response to our campaign to lobby our legislators and Governor to put a leash on John White’s reckless and illegal privacy violations, John White sent out a letter to local superintendents.  This letter tries to mischaracterize our objections and goals, while pointedly ignoring the underlying issues and facts. I will set the record straight on a point by point (between the lines) basis so you can be the judge of who to “believe.”

As the recent investigation and federal probe into Bobby Jindal’s DHH head, Bruce Greenstein, shows, government agencies and their appointed heads are more than capable of performing illegal acts, and lying about them.

For an official copy of this letter please refer here:

A copy has been preserved by this blog as evidence. LDOE has a nasty habit of “losing” all their incriminating or revealing memos and files and we wouldn’t want that to happen here.


April 2,2013

Dear Superintendent,

Over the past few weeks, you may have received communications expressing concern over the inBloom data storage system. I wanted to take a moment to clarify some misinformation, and I wanted to reiterate the state’s continuing commitment to student privacy.

By sharing every last detail about your children with out-of-state, unaccountable data vendors we can guarantee all students and parents should expect zero privacy. Whereas before most of this data was housed internally, we have fired all internal data folks to manufacture a crisis which we are using as an excuse to contract with a vendor I have personal dealings with and will probably accept a job with after I leave here.  (Please refer to excerpt from FOIA request at end of this post)

Both the state and each school district use an electronic system to store information regarding each student. These systems are provided by private vendors with which the state and district have contracts.

Of course school districts choose their own vendors, house their own data, and have ultimate authority over who has access to it, and who doesn’t.  They have a say in their security measures, and so forth. InBloom is an independent contractor which has accepted no risk for any accidental exposure, misuse, and offers no protections to students for inaccuracies contained in the data. We plan to require all local school districts use inBloom for their data services in the future, and stop using local systems like JPAMS, Pentamation, STI, Powerschool, Lafourche, Excel, Cims, SASI, etc.

Just as we have gotten rid of librarians, social workers, guidance counselors, we also plan to boot local data coordinators and rely entirely on out-of-state contractors that only report to the Louisiana Department of Education.  If you are nice to us we might give you reports on your own students from time to time. 

We are in active discussions to design this system. The first step will be having local school districts send daily files to a third-party vendor while we work with them to replace your entire data infrastructure with one we like, paid for out of a portion of your MFP dollars we will negotiate on your behalf.

In this case, inBloom has provided a data storage system for the Louisiana Department of Education. Having such a system is a longstanding practice in our state and in all states and districts across the country.

Except most systems (until this past year when software vendors secretly lobbied the US Department of Education to change FERPA)

[But in 2011, regulations issued by the department changed FERPA to allow the release to third parties of student information for non-academic purposes. The rules also broaden the exceptions under which schools can release student records to non-governmental organizations without first obtaining written consent from parents. And they promote the public use of student IDs that enable access to private educational records, according to EPIC, a nonprofit public-interest center based in Washington D.C.]

were housed and controlled entirely by and within state departments of education.

You guys may not know this, but we actually already developed a 4 million dollar warehouse that contains all this data we are giving to inBloom too. However now we will be creating a new database and sharing all of your children’s most intimate details with external vendors too.  There is no obvious benefit to you or them from doing this. Our internal system, called LEDRS, is more than capable of producing reports and statistics with de-identified data (in other words without student names and social security numbers.) In fact, it was designed with improving privacy in mind.  However external vendors are not interested in offering me or my folks multi-million dollar contacts and jobs unless I give them all of your kid’s data, when we leave Louisiana. So that’s why I am giving them everything they need to harvest your children well into their geriatric years. In fact, the Crawfish was, and probably still is since he mapped and designed most of it, the only expert on this system – and we fired everyone else who worked on it so we can claim we have no way to use it.

And to clarify some terms, by long-standing practice, we mean a few months, and by many states we mean just Louisiana and New York, and New York is being sued right now over this very issue by numerous parent organizations, but I’m from New York and we care about our kids up there.

This system is not different from the databases that districts and schools use on a regular basis today. Commercial vendors contract and work with the state and with school districts to provide storage for data. As is the case now, these companies will continue to establish legal agreements with the state and districts. They are bound by the federal laws and may not share data with anyone unless authorized to do so under the law.

Except the federal law was changed secretly, at the behest of vendors like inBloom, to allow me to send your data to vendors like inBloom to use as they see fit, and to subcontract out any work and any access to any other vendor without getting permission from anyone but themselves. The legality of this change to a federal law by a policy change in a federal agency charged with preserving student privacy is also the subject of a lawsuit. 

The data stored in this database will continue to be under the strict control of the state, as it has been in the past.

By strict control we mean we will have zero people monitoring this data; zero people auditing how this data is stored. We will not hold vendors accountable for any accidental release, require anyone pass a background check before using this data, nor will we have the data on site, as we do now. In every other way (except every way) we will operate as we have in the past. If it makes you feel any better I fired virtually everyone who collected, reported or audited this data shortly after I came.  

If you think about it, all I’m really doing is giving unlimited access to unmonitored strangers looking to make as much money off this data as they can and hopefully show me some love when I leave.

The Louisiana Department of Education is in strict compliance with all laws governing the privacy of student information and expects the same from all schools and school districts. The Department respects the right to privacy for children and families and is committed to safeguarding this right.

By committed we mean, we are committed to concealing data from researchers that will disprove our lies, but we will share this data with anyone else who might give me a multi-million dollar thank you job when I leave LDE.

If you have any other concerns regarding this issue, please contact me directly.

Seriously, you should probably tell me off and call me on my lies and BS. My email address is I’m a real tool, but that’s gotten me this far. . .


John White

John White

Louisiana Department of Education

Twitter @LouisianaSupe

I thought you all might want to see my secret machinations related to destroying our internal data systems, hiring outside vendors to handle all our IT functions, and our plot to get buy-in from local school districts to support this effort to separate them from their existing data systems. Enjoy. (JW)

Please sign my petition and pass it on:

Anyone who renames their website “Louisiana Believes” is really trying desperately to hide the truth. Who do you think you should “believe?”

Feel free to forward this post to your local superintendents.  They just might want to decide on their own who to believe. . .



Oops, John White did it again. (He lost our children.)

Oops, John White did it again.  (He lost our children.)

John White is trying very hard to keep data from the general public and researchers. He even passed a number of edicts when he first came to DOE that forbade LDE staff from communicating with school districts via any method other than a vetted weekly or bi-weekly newsletter. I’ve been told by numerous data coordinators that many of them have no ideas when deadlines are coming, when changes made to the system, when they have problems with their data, or even when webinars are scheduled.

Another one of these commandments was that no data of any sort could be released by anyone other than his public relations officials, and those releases were usually of the PR kind, short on facts, context and details and big on puffery. We were actually told in person (so there would be no e-mail record) that we would not be providing data to hostile groups, and that anyone who requested data (even data already available on our website) must be sent to Public Relations, so they could put the requestor in the proper context and mindset to understand the data. (People I sent to PR told me later they were usually pointed to different data than what they were requesting or told the data did not exist – even though is almost always did.)

DOE used to publish more than 10 years of enrollment data, which is used by demographers for budget projections, charities and non-profits for resource allocations, other state agencies for various state and federal reporting needs and programs, but DOE has decided to use FERPA to start concealing as much detailed data as they can. However if you are persistent and knowledgeable enough you can still piece together quite a bit of data from trolling through various publications within and outside of DOE. These figures all come from internal DOE publications, but they show what happens when an organization blinds itself to spite its face and revels in positive numbers without ever questioning their authenticity. I’d like to claim that John White knowingly is concealing the truth here, but he’s not bright enough to figure this out and lacks an inquisitive mind.  Unfortunately the people he brings in from other states are political science majors, not mathematicians and not interested in anything but perpetuating a myth that the various Reforms being undertaken by DOE are working. In regards to graduate and dropout rates – these reforms actually seem to be working in reverse (but you wouldn’t know it form the data DOE lets you see.)

(Note: One of the ways John White is falsely convincing you is by design. JW is rigging SPS scores for high schools, which I will cover later, but I was already working on this piece when that analysis data rolled in.)

To the untrained eye this chart might just look like a bunch of random unrelated numbers. Allow me to tease some interesting bits out.

According to DOE, the dropout event rate has been drastically decreasing over the past 5 years, most noticeably in the last few. If this were accurate, when you have fewer students dropping out, you would expect more students to graduate (or get a GED or Certificate of Achievement which are the only terminal credentials students can get to prevent becoming a dropout.) Please refer to the next two charts (provided by LDE) illustrating this dramatic decline in dropout rate and count.

Very impressive, no? According to my calculations, the average number of students dropping out prior the 2005-2006 (Katrina year and pre-reforms and takeovers) was 17,683 students dropping out each year (over a span of 5 years.) Dropout percentages get factored into School Performance Scores (SPS). The lower your dropout rate, the higher your score. The higher your score the less likely you are to be in Academically Unacceptable Status (AUS). Only schools in AUS are eligible for takeover. You might say there would be a certain motivation for tinkering with scores a bit, no?

But let us see if the rest of this trend plays out as you would expect. If fewer students are dropping out, you would expect your GED’s, Diplomas and Certificate’s of Achievement (COAs for SPED students) would increase to compensate for that fact. In fact, since students drop out in grades 7-12, you would expect a decrease in this dropouts (or exiting schools) to have a cumulative exponential effect on counts of completers. (Imagine an hourglass open at the top.  If dropouts are the sand that blows out, the less sand blowing out, the more sand that should make it to the bottom.) What we see below is the percentages of GEDs and COAs barely budging (maybe by a percent for both of them) while dropout percentage has decreased by almost 4%.

That may not seem like a lot of difference, but consider students should only be leaving this calculation around 12th grade, when they finish, if they are not dropping out in grades 7-12. Those numbers should actually be increasing at a much faster rate than dropout numbers are decreasing 5 years into this trend – assuming they were actually staying in school.

But there is one number left that could make up for this discrepancy – graduates.

Now look at this my green chart again. Over a period when our dropouts decreased by a net 22,239 more (than the average 5 years before) our graduates remained relatively level. The average annual increase is in graduates over this time is about -10 (negative 10 folks).

Where did those twenty two thousand students go? In 5 years you would have expected most of those students to have started graduating and adding significantly to the grad total. In fact, over this same time student enrollment has increased by an average of around 5500, year over year. However during this same time, our cumulative enrollment (all students who set foot in any school in a given year has actually declined!

If those students were actually staying in school, while out overall enrollment was increasing, our enrollment in grades 7-12 would have to be increasing, but it’s not!

In fact the opposite appears to be happening. You will notice that we are graduating more students once they reach grade 12, which is improving out cohort numbers, but our overall 12th grade enrollment hasn’t changed appreciably since 2006 and in several years it declined by almost 5%. If you look at our grads as a percentage of our total enrollment, you will notice that the percent of students actually graduating is actually decreasing every year!

If our cohort graduation rate was actually improving like LDE is claiming, if our dropouts were actually decreasing by the 40-50% LDE is claiming on a nifty powerpoint presentation i saw on their site, these trends would be very large, in all the opposite directions!

Based on these numbers I’d estimate we lost an additional 25 to 45 thousand students to dropouts over the past 5 years. I think I know where they’ve gone, but I’d need access to much more than this condensed and sanitized data to show that. Of course this data is a little older than I’d like, but LDE doesn’t want to release any more recent data. If my calculations are correct, it makes me wonder if this shell game is about to collapse on the weight of its own BS.

Until we remove John White, he will continue lying to us and telling us to just “Believe.” I think BESE would like to know this type of info, even if most of BESEwere given their seats by Bobby Jindal’s largesse, I’d like to think most of them owe allegiance to Louisiana and Louisiana school children first, before Bobby, or party.

However, we’ve all seen what Bobby Jindal does to people who don’t parrot the party line. John White was given this job because of his blind allegiance to Bobby. I didn’t always agree with Pastorek, and he had his share of faults, but at least he was a man of principal, integrity, and cared about our children. John White only cares about his career and portraying a positive image to back Jindal’s 2016 election run.

Members of BESE:
Jindal and White will be gone in a few years. They will be done with this State, but you will be left behind to take the blame for the damage they have done. They can hire PR folks to point the finger back at you when this scheme fails and the true plight of Louisiana’s children comes to light.


Romney, the Secret Democrat.

Romney, the Secret Democrat.


Great editorial. There is very little I can add, except this picture representation.  Could Romney be a secret Democrat?

Originally posted on

As often as not, parties nominate candidates for president that pretty much all their own partisans acknowledge are less than inspiring. Democrats were so excited about Barack Obama in 2008 partly because their previous two nominees, John Kerry and Al Gore, rode to the nomination on a stirring sentiment of “Well, OK, I guess.” The same happened to Republicans, who adored the easygoing George W. Bush after the grim candidacies of Bob Dole and Bush’s father. And now that Mitt Romney has suffered through an awful few weeks—a mediocre convention, an embarrassing response to the attacks in Cairo and Benghazi, then the release of the “47 percent” video in which Romney accused almost half of America of refusing to “take responsibility for their own lives”—the knives have come out.

First it was a widely shared Politico story full of intramural Romney campaign sniping, most directed at chief strategist Stuart Stevens…

View original 990 more words

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