The backstory of EBR “cheating” scandal

Recently John White has been trying to stir up a lot of controversy about what he initially called a “cheating” scandal.  Here is one of the earlier reports of what is turning out to be a completely made up EBR cheating scandal.  He unloads quite a laundry list but to date has not been able to back it up and has scaled it back every time anyone asks about it.  However the damage he made to public perception may already be done, which was probably his intent from the start. . .

Here is a brief synopsis of what happened and what I’ve heard cobbled together from several sources.

LDOE reported in the media that EBR was being investigated for a cheating related scandal.  When asked about Chas Roemer said he was briefed and “very concerned” about what he had heard.  (Who knows what that was since he never elaborated. ) When EBR and others started investigating and asking specific questions about this scandal, LDOE tried to change it to a massive graduation fixing scandal that was reported by an anonymous tipster.  When this story was questioned LDOE admitted it involved one child who may or may not belong to an EBR school board member that may have been marked as a graduate while being 1 credit short.  EBR claimed this was caught, LDOE has not released the text of the anonymous “tipster” to my knowledge (which they could do and redact the identity) if any such tipster actually existed.  Now LDOE is frantically trying to search for any evidence of erroneous data to try and smear EBR with.

This is not a new technique. LDOE uses audits to try and intimidate and drum up negative material on districts they are targeting for takeovers.  They have reportedly audited St Helena at least 7 different times in the last few years trying to get enough dirt to take over the rest of their school district.  This may be in part due to a personal dispute between Jessica Tucker Bagian (former TFA recruit and current head of Accountability and LDOE) and Superintendent Dr. Kelli Joseph, who Bagian is reported to be holding a personal grudge against because she was once a teacher that reported to Dr. Joseph when Joseph was her principal.

Once LDOE targets your district for takeover, expect them to pull out the dirty tricks textbook and go through it play by play.

LDOE does not really care about data or cheating of allies and may even encourage it to bolster their case for more charters and reform policies.  Many districts have been accidentally or intentionally masking dropouts for years by flagging them as entering adult education programs. . .from which they never receive a GED and never get marked as dropouts, thus dramatically improving the state’s dropout rate while not significantly improving their completer rate.  I reported this error to them many times.  I’ve had some honest districts reach out to me about this after I resigned and I helped them correct it.

LDOE doesn’t even care if some school districts don’t even report entire schools to them like in St James and Iberville. (They built brand new schools, Academies, which they send high achieving students to which have never been reported to LDOE and thus skew accountability for their entire parishes.)  As long as the superintendents are subservient or completely compliant to their demands, they can get away with almost anything.

EBR superintendent Bernard Taylor and Superintendent White have long had a contentious relationship.  In no small part due to the fact White and LDOE see EBR as a vulnerable and valuable next target for privatization of the public schools in the model of New Orleans.  We even have a New Schools for Baton Rouge program lead by a former LDOE staffer selecting charter schools for most of North Baton Rouge.  The reason for this timing is because of South Baton Rouge though.  With the new legislative session starting in a month or so, White is/was trying to drum up reasons to implicate EBR in some sort of scandal damage the perception of EBR in the news and minds of EBR citizens so they and the legislature would be more inclined to vote to divide Baton Rouge into two cities, St George and Baton Rouge.  This would allow St George to form their own wealthier whiter district in the south, taking 2 thirds of the sales tax revenue dedicated to all EBR public schools in the process.  This would simultaneously bankrupt the EBR system by saddling them all the retirement costs and paying of the bonds for the schools in the South they no longer owned, while also dramatically lowering their SPS scores making it possible for the State to take over all of East Baton Rouge’s remaining schools.  After just getting hit with a 1.5 billion dollar judgment for how they handled kicking out veteran teachers in New Orleans, you can be sure all the teachers will be put on a RIF (Reduction in Force) list and simply never called back to create a lot of unemployed teachers in both the new city of St George (many of which work in the incorporated zone and all of which won’t be employable in a new St George school system.

However the strangest twist I have heard is that all of this scheming was done at the behest of Jindal staffers and some legislators which may even include Senator Bodi White, who sponsored the successful drives to create Central, Zachary and Baker school systems and is the driving force behind the creation of new School District and now a new city in south Baton Rouge in the form of the proposed city of St George.

My what a tangled web we weave, Louisiana.

If anyone finds the smoking gun about intentional lying and collusion Jindal may have his own Chris Christie Bridge Scandal to explain before his presidential run.

Based on these comments on a article about this “scandal” White’s tactics appear to be working.


Beth Courtney, LPB and their unethical coverage of Common Core

Beth Courtney, LPB and their unethical coverage of Common Core

Many people believe that LPB is an unbiased news source. Some people might even think it is a liberal news source. I’ve had my own firsthand experience with how unethical Beth Courtney has acted covering education stories.  Tonight’s show should demonstrate just how biased and ridiculous LPB is and has become under Beth Courtney. If you would like to see what a lopsided and one-sided panel looks like, then check this video out and try to hold your breakfast.

This program was portrayed as a discussion panel for parents to become more informed and to discuss Common Core as a topic, to address parents’ concerns.

Supporters say the standards will increase rigor and help every student learn what they need to succeed. Critics say the standards are untested, being poorly implemented and lower expectations for students.

So, what do Louisiana educators, parents and students think about Common Core? Do the new guidelines encourage students to think and be more persuasive, or do they stifle educational innovation by removing local control?

The bias in this program was so evident it made me ill watching it.  If you watch it you should be very afraid for what this means for our media and our society. This program was paid for by Exxon, one of the chief supporters of Common Core.  Exxon is a big supporter not because they believe this will give them more qualified engineers but because the primary benefactor of Common Core is Bill Gates who is also one of Exxon’s largest shareholders. With this programming purchase they certainly got their money’s worth.

For starters the majority of the panel was composed of supporters.

The panelists include
retired educator and public education activist Lee Barrios: against

Maya Bennett, a Teacher Leader on Common Core; (for CC and former TFA which runs LDOE and is not representative of most teachers)

Ken Bradford from the Louisiana Department of Education; (for CC and the guy that told me John White’s goal was to privatize the entire Department of Education on my last week of work while he was interviewing staff to fire. He oversees an our standard less Virtual Schools and Course Choice providers which don’t require certified teachers and are about as substandard and low quality as you can get. Who gives a crap if those kids are prepared for anything except skipping school and prison? Right Ken Bradford who supports high standards and rigor for our public students?)

Rep. Brett Geymann of Lake Charles: against

ExxonMobil Plant Manager Ken Miller.(for)

Likewise the questions from the audience largely came from supporters with long lead-ins.  She statements are word for word straight from the LDOE handbook and John White (like the mile wide and an inch deep comment.)

80-90% of the time in this program went to pro Common core folks. So that seems about par of the course. . .

Beth Courtney, in her role as moderator, continuously questioned folks who were against common core and made confused faces when they were speaking. She nodded affirmatively and agree with or even expounded on the opinions of those for Common Core. When Lee Barrios or Representative Geymann answered questions directed at them Courtney herself often challenged their answers and even argued with her panel. . . over and over and over.  When Pro Common Core folks made statements that were not backed up she agree and endorsed their assessments immediately and feigned to be perplexed that folks could not understand why these were such good arguments. Courtney is unethical in her role as a moderator, in her role as the head of LPB, in her role as a journalist, but more on this later.

Let me first restate the questions, material and statements made that went unchallenged (as usual) and provide the answers the pro Common Core guests were unable to, and have never been able to answer in any forum.

These are internationally bench marked standards!

This statement is made over and over. It is not true. It was never true. It will never be true no matter how many times they say it or you hear it. No international benchmarks have ever been produced to show that Common Core was “benchmarked” to them. Total BS.

Higher standards will make out students better!

We had some of the highest standards on paper in the nation. Our achievement is very low. High standards do not translate to magically improved performance.  They may even depress performance f they are raised to where they are unreachable or children are promoted before they are ready.  Common Core was rolled out without a phase in or transition period.  This stranded many students and families in an educational nightmare where they didn’t learn what came before, and they will have trouble learning what comes after without this foundation.

These standards will eliminate poverty!

With magic? Will Exxon be giving out Common Core grants? It will take much more than unfunded standards to improve student performance.  Are we supposed to simply discard the students we already have in the pipeline because we sure as hell ain’t educating them or working with the districts who are struggling.  None of them were represented on this program, only one TFA teacher leader.  Whoop de fricken do.

Our low standards have made our students low performers!

Our high poverty is responsible for our low performance. Our poorest district scores poorest. Our wealthiest district performs highest. We are the 48th or 49th poorest state. We score between 47th and 49th on standardized tests. States with the wealthiest populations like Massachusetts score highest on these tests. This is not rocket science folks. These people are not using their Common Core reasoning skills.

Our accountability system will lift our students out of poverty and drive them to achieve!

We have a top 5 or 10 ranked accountability system for the last 10 years or more: Many years the top 1-3. This is an entire generation of school children and that has not improved our students.  I’m talking to you, Varney.  You do realize that after around 12 years we get all new kids, right?  When are we going to see this great improvement from our accountability system if that was actually a factor at all. . .

These standards were developed by educators!

If by “educators” you mean test companies, textbook companies, and Bill Gates and by “include” you actually mean exclude the only two educators on the panel, then yes.

I must confess I do not understand this new Common Core zombie reasoning.  Must. . . . drink. . . . Koolaid!  (brain flavored)

These standards will reverse the trend of fewer students being prepared for college!

There is zero evidence to support this assertion. These standards were thrown together haphazardly, not developed collaboratively, and districts were not prepared to teach them. While it is true we have had more students requiring remediation, this is in no small part due to LDOE decisions to eliminate the Graduate Exit Exam and to endorse “less rigorous standards” for graduating students with career diplomas. These decisions were undertaken by our legislature and Education Committee and embraced by reformers under Paul Pastorek.  We are graduating students less prepared but this is not because of our standards but because of our lax graduation standards and over emphasis on standardized tests to the detriment of teaching our students actual content.

These were voluntary standards developed by the states and not required by the Federal Government!

These were not voluntary for getting federal funding and for the No Child Left Behind requirements which were intentionally designed to be unattainable (100% proficiency of all students, including all Special Education students by 2014) It is quite clear there is overt pressure by the US Department of Education as evidenced by Arne Duncan’s recent comment addressed to soccer moms who he claims are simply upset because their kids are not as smart as they thought they were.

People against Common core don’t want kids to learn multiplication tables in 3rd grade!

I heard this one during this program. Just shut up and sit down idiot. (This was the answer this person should have gotten.)

Here’s the straight dope.

No training was provided to most districts.

The materials supporting Common Core are mostly crap.

I will show you how LDOE and John White intentionally sabotaged Common Core in my upcoming post on the subject.

Common Core is about power.  It is about handing our children and their education over to corporations who want to churn them out as human capital or up as waste products if they don’t fit in their machine.

But for now I will leave you with my little experience with Beth Courtney and LPB. I was working on a story about Shadow Schools with one of her reporters. Week after week she made new demands for me to get expert witnesses, to appear in the video, to say this thing or that thing. Week after week my story was killed at the last minute. What I later learned was John White and his staff called Beth, who is reported to be a big Bobby Jindal fan and supporter, and they asked her not to do the story when they were notified of it for comment. She said this story about Shadow Schools, unfavorable to LDOE and Iberville, would never air on “her station.” (Shadow Schools are all the rage for Common Core proponents who want to hold students and districts accountable to higher standards – by hiding them.)

I was a bit shocked to learn Beth demands stories and cancels stories to show issues the way she wants to show them. She is not unbiased and as the head of a “public” broadcasting station her reporting and coverage is far from even ethical in my opinion. I have been told Beth treats her reporters like children, and she as their horrible abusive mother, and the Louisiana Public Broadcasting Station like her personal playroom. I had trouble believing this myself when I first heard it, until I received this anonymous recording of what I was told was Beth Courtney dressing down one of her reporters named “Jeff” Duhe. Her language is a bit brutal, her treatment psychologically damaging, but I am told this is how she treats many of her employees if they try to cover stories honestly, so I can’t really say I blame them for doing whatever she says and then getting the hell out of there when they get a chance.

Here is an article describing the situation and ethics fine she was hit with over it.

fired employee releases an audio recording of his heated meeting with Louisiana Public Broadcasting President and CEO Beth Courtney.
February 28, 2006

Jeff Duhé says he’s the one who blew the whistle on Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s President and Chief Executive Officer Beth Courtney, who was recently fined $10,000 by the Louisiana Board of Ethics. At least that’s what Duhé told Accuracy in Media, a conservative media watchdog group. He also released an audio recording he made of a 2004 tongue-lashing he received at the hands of his former boss.

On Jan. 24, Cliff Kincaid, editor of the AIM Report, the online newsletter of AIM, revealed that Duhé had reported Courtney to the ethics board. On Jan.12, the board ruled that Courtney and her husband, Bob, had violated state ethics laws prohibiting state employees and their family members from doing business with the state agency where the employee works. Bob Courtney’s company, Courtney Communications, was paid $46,869 by John Camp Productions Inc. to develop three documentaries.

Duhé told AIM: “Just after I reported her unethical activities to the governor’s executive counsel, I was fired. A thorough, hate- and profanity-filled screaming fit came first, of course. Anybody want to hear it? I’ve got it in MP3 now. It’s 52 minutes long.”

We wanted to hear it. On Jan. 26, at our request, Duhé directed The Independent Weekly to a Web page with an audio MP3 file. But the audio was only 16 minutes long, not the 52 minutes Duhé claimed he had.

I have a copy here in case you would like to hear what goes on behind closed doors at LPB.

Yes folks. This is what a supporter of Common Core sounds like. This is the person responsible for our children’s programming and now for orchestrating their reprogramming under Common Core.

This charade has gone on long enough.

Save our Babies

Stop Common Core.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Link to part I:

Shadow Schools, the many victims of their success, and why US ED is useless

Shadow Schools, the many victims of their success, and why US ED is useless

If you are a journalist. . . beware trying to cover this story. This may be a story only a blogger can handle because of all the high profile political players involved.  Just asking questions about this subject is liable to get you fired as one reporter unfortunately found out.

Some of my earlier readers of my blog may have heard me talk about a situation I called Shadow Schools. A shadow school looks just like a normal school from the street and to parents and children attending it, but these schools don’t actually exist, at least not in an accountable, reportable way. Imagine if you had children and never applied for Social Security cards for them, and the hospital never issues birth certificates for them. Your children would exist, hopefully you named them and feed them, but to the state and federal government they would be invisible and if you decided to home school them and never file a tax return claiming them as a dependent and never added them to your health insurance policy it would be very hard for anyone who didn’t actually know you and them personally to know they existed.

That’s what shadow schools are. These are brand new schools that have been built, enroll students, hire teachers and principals, pick their mascots, form PTA committees and put up websites advertising they are open for business. However these schools are never reported to the State or the US Department of Education.

I will of course forgive you if you don’t believe this situation could exist. I was a bit incredulous myself when I first found out about them. You see, I just assumed our various state and federal agencies would prevent such a situation from occurring. We have so many levels of bureaucracy in our government, so many folks that would have to collude or turn a blind eye to just ignoring the existence of entire schools (for what is going on 6 years now) I had a little trouble believing it a first. I found out about them while working at the Louisiana Department of Education. I was told about them by other employees, parents, other district coordinators, and software vendors trying to figure out how to send us data and even people who drove by these new construction projects on their way to their work and asked about them.

I have uncovered evidence that two Parishes currently employ Shadow Schools, St James and Iberville, but it’s probably pure folly to believe they are the only ones. In the past Jefferson Parish used them as a way to avoid some accountability sanctions, and at one point East Baton Rouge asked to employ this technique with Baton Rouge High School. Jefferson was told to stop the practice, and I’ve been told they have done so.

East Baton Rouge was told they could not turn Baton Rouge High into a shadow school, publicly. Paul Pastorek, Louisiana’s then State Superintendent of Education even went on TV to reveal this plot and to denounce it, successfully. East Baton Rouge did not create a shadow school, and East Baton Rouge has had numerous schools taken over by the state and turned over to the RSD, the Recovery School District. The reason I draw attention to this fact, is that this is ostensibly the reason to create high performing shadow schools, to avoid accountability sanctions and school takeovers that the state department of education has the power to do, and which the US Department of Education encourages.

Here is a comment from Tom Spencer, former head of Accountability for the Louisiana Department of Education during the time of the shadow schools were created that appeared on the The Lens which attempted to cover this topic most local media organizations were cowed away from reporting.

“I was at the LDOE nearly 10 years. He’s telling it straight. Thing is – Jefferson Parish had several of these shadow schools, but the way they were recorded allowed tracking and Paul Pastorek, former supe of ed, made the LDoE change how scores were calculated. This was because EBR was openly requesting to set up similar situations. PP had the ball rolling to take over schools and didn’t want any magic to prevent his heavy-handed activity. John White is the only individual I know who lies more than Pastorek.” – Tom Spencer

To date, Mark Moseley with The Lens is the only journalist able to get to successfully cover this story to any degree. Sue Lincoln at LPB attempted to cover this story, the story never aired due to interventions by John White, and she was recently fired so LPB could go in “another direction.” I suppose straight to Hell is the direction LPB is aiming for these days.

What is the motivation and was DOE aware of this? A former DOE accountability employee reported this:

It’s probably not just about the magnet schools. Plaquemines and White Castle both have SPS in low 70’s. Without the scores routed back, they will not do well. EBR and Jefferson, however, aren’t afforded the opportunity to do the same thing.

Shadow schools exist and even have their supporters such as Mike Deshotels, a fellow Louisiana Education blogger did a story on them suggesting this was “true reform.” I usually agree with Mike on most things education related, but I find this deception too much, despite the reasoning behind the subterfuge.

The Academy program is not classified as a school. Therefore all student LEAP and iLEAP scores go back to the student’s home school. Everybody benefits from the high performance of the Academy students. Cancienne believes that students in the home schools are motivated to perform better by opportunity to attend the Academy. Link

Everyone most certainly does not benefit equally by this scheme. I will get to some of the victims and how they are victimized in a bit. There is no question that these schools or “academies” exist in an intentionally grey area and that the Louisiana Department of Education is fully aware of them. One of the reasons this was done was shared by one of my commenters, but it mirrors what I heard when I worked at LDOE and inquired about them:

A little bird told me that East Iberville and MSA East are the same school, but the reason for this is because East Iberville’s scores are so low that if the schools were not joined together, East Iberville would be taken over by the state. Since the scores for MSA East are high, they compensate for East Iberville’s low scores.

While the Reform movement is a bankrupt and bankrupting philosophy, I don’t feel the ends justifies the means here. When we abandon the moral high ground and resort to trickery we risk becoming as bad, or worse, than the faux reformers we fight in the name of truth and justice – and the children suffer. It is wrong to sacrifice poor children to improve the lot of others. Despite what Reformers would have you believe poor children are not less valuable than rich kids. They are not disposable batteries like Iberville uses them for. They should not be abandoned because wealthier kids are easier to reach. This is exactly what is happening overtly with Shadow Schools, but covertly nationwide when schools for poor kids are closed and the kids are shipped across the school district to hide the problem, hide the individual struggling students among the masses.

Out of their sites, out of our minds.

That’s the way of the Reformer. It’s the John White way so it’s not surprising he crafted policy to take advantage of this situation on a case by case basis to support his allies.

(6) Alternative Schools

• Background:

○ Alternative schooling and programs vary widely in structure, purpose and quality across the state.

• Issue:

○ Despite the wide variance, the LDOE’s past practice has been to tightly define these learning environments as (a) alternative

schools or (b) alternative programs. This removes decision-making authority from educators closest to kids and, further, fails

to clarify the differences between the sites.


○ Rather than the LDOE, districts will designate alternative programs and/or schools.

Programs = Scores will count at sending school and the site will not have a site code

School = Scores will be assigned based on the new Full Academic Year definition

○ Any students sent to an alternative school for less than 45 days will be considered to be enrolled in an alternative

program within the alternative school, and their scores will be counted at their sending school.

You can even read Erin Bendily’s, Assistant Superintendent, Policy and External Affairs at Louisiana Department of Education, response when I brought Shadow Schools to her attention several years ago.

From: Erin Bendily (DOE)
Sent: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 4:05 PM
To: Jason France
Cc: (redacted); (redacted); Joan Hunt; Jennifer Baird
Subject: RE: Unreported Sites

This still doesn’t answer the question of why IPSB is communicating to parents and others externally that these are SCHOOLS, and why they are segregating data for them.

That was an excellent point, Erin. It still is. I wonder what, or who changed your mind? A FOIA request might reveal those answers.

State law is pretty specific on this issue as we all discussed with Chief Legal Counsel, Joan Hunt, and as we can see from Bulletin 111.

Part LXXXIII. Bulletin 111―The Louisiana School,
District, and State Accountability System

§301. School Performance Score Goal

A. A School Performance Score (SPS) shall be calculated for each school. This score shall range from 0.0 to 120.0 and beyond, with a score of 120.0 indicating a school has reached Louisiana’s 2014 goal.

B. Each school shall receive its school performance scores under one site code regardless of its grade structure.


§3301. Inclusion of New Schools

A. For a newly formed school, the school district shall register the new school with the Louisiana Department of Education to have a site code assigned to that school. A new school shall not be created nor shall a new site code be issued in order to allow a school to avoid an accountability decision or prevent a school from entering the accountability system. Before a new school is created, the local education agency must work with the Louisiana Department of Education to explore ways the new school can be included in the accountability system.

Shadow Schools exist and they were funded from a 31-mill special property tax parish voters approved in 2008. The tax is expected to generate $10.5 million per year for 20 years in Iberville. I’m not tackling the issue of whether they exist or not in this post. If you are interested in seeing some of my previous discussions on why these schools were created, what they allow you to do, or where some the current ones are 1, 2, 3, (and what the grounds look like from an aerial view) you can refer to these previous posts.

The sad part is this has never been a well-kept secret. Iberville Parish and St James Parish built new schools, called them academies and programs, and that was the extent of the deception!

Without the collusion pliant local and state school boards, a corrupt State Department of Education a useless US Department of Education, and compliant media that dutifully reports anything handed to them without delving any deeper than the press releases that get handed to them on a silver platter, this situation could not exist. A former, wishing to remain anonymous, LDOE staffer writes this:

That superintendent in Iberville was in St. James a few years ago. Seems that’s where the ‘process’ started. EBR tried this and Pastorek wouldn’t allow it. He also stopped Jefferson – who was doing it in several schools. When Tyler was in Caddo, she tried to do it with overage 8th graders (low performing) and the LDE doesn’t allow it. Cancienne also invented the practice of leaving poor performing students in 8th grade while they were working toward a GED, so they wouldn’t enter the high school graduation calculations. As you pointed out – with scores as low as they are in Iberville as a whole – how pitiful must the schools be when considering all the ‘propping up’ that occurs. ERIN BENDILY is the governor’s superintendent of education. Whitey is just the mouthpiece.

I’ve been researching this topic on and off for a few years now so I have pretty rough timeline of what occurred and who the primary players were in this setup, corroborated from multiple independent sources.

Apparently around 2006 or 2007 or so Linda Johnson, a state school board or “BESE” member, found out about some shadow schools that were operating in Jefferson Parish. Rather than worrying about shutting them down, she decided she liked the idea and wanted it to spread to other parishes under her oversight. Edward Cancienne was the Superintendent of St James Parish at the time and had just set up an “Academy” there that was actually split between 3 schools. Cancienne came to Iberville in 2007 and proposed opening up two more shadow school academies and funding them through a tax millage increase, which passed. While the schools were being built, Canicenne opened up the Academies in temporary accommodations.

Now the schools are built and they draw children from miles around, even outside of Iberville Parish as this press release found on Iberville’s website helpfully describes.


Last school year, 32 such students applied to the academies in a parish with about 4,000 school age children. At the Jan. 15 application deadline, 273 parish students who attend school outside the parish and private school students in the parish were in a pool of 1,000 seeking entry into the academies for next school year, school system officials said. One of those former private school students is Kristin Ellis, a Plaquemine resident who attended school in Ascension Parish her entire life. She was admitted this year into the west side Math, Science and Arts Academy at the E.J. Gay campus in Plaquemine. Ellis, 16, is an achiever with a 4.2 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale due to her enrollment in honors courses. Leaving her Ascension Parish private school for the arts-intensive, technology-rich academy program in Iberville Parish made sense to Ellis, she said, because the academies push students to achieve.

The cumulative totals are even more staggering as Mike Deshotels reported:

In fact parents on both sides of the river are so impressed that in just 3 years a total of 780 students have transferred from private schools back into the public school system. For years the Iberville public school system had been plagued by the flight of serious top students (both black and white) to private schools. Now the kids are back, and the new concept Academies have a waiting list of over 400.

This all sounds fantastic! So what’s the problem do you ask?

For starters, with as many as 1000 high performing students transferring into a parish of only 4300 students as of 2011 the parish has only shown anemic growth. If you read any report about how awesome MSA East and MSA west are, you’d have to believe those are the best schools and kids on earth. It’s very likely, almost certain that the schools left behind are declining; the students are failing and dropping out in the shadows.



2007 District Performance Score

2008 District Performance Score

2009 District Performance Score

2010 District Performance Score

2011 District Performance Score

Letter Grade

024 Iberville Parish







At a recent seminar on race I attended I happened to have an Iberville teacher at my table. I mentioned knowing about the Academies but not that I was a blogger that knew “quite a bit” about them. She told me that almost all the good students and teachers were drained from the other schools to support the Academies and that the actual reported “schools” had all the new teachers and lowest performing students. I also asked about the “lottery” system which I was told by a number of parents was a joke, and she confirmed that it was well know that if you were well connected, you got in, if you were a poor local parent there was no waiting list, and you might never get in. Many of the kids going to the Academies are from other parishes that don’t even pay the millage tax actual parishioners passed. I learned that all the schools have finally been remodeled and all students now have laptops, for what that’s worth, but the impacts of those investments is not showing up for local children. In all likelihood they are suffering worse than before the MSA’s came into existence. A parent relates this about the “lottery.”

Thanks for responding. The whole situation is sad and the kids are the ones who suffer. Mr.Cancienne even went to the extreme of contacting neighboring parishes once North Iberville was closed asking them not to accept those students forcing them to attend Plaquemine High or private school. Those parents had to sign temporary guardianship to a family member or friend for their child to attend school in another parish. However, students from WBR parish just have to provide an address in Iberville parish and they are eligible to attend. I know a honor student from North Iberville that has been # 10 on the waiting list for 2 years.

I know they’ve enrolled more than one kid at the MSA’s in the last 2 years. You do the math. A fictitious lottery allows school districts to pick and choose who they admit and who they don’t. People can claim it is “random” and who can prove otherwise? This is probably what’s going on with the State’s voucher “lottery” according to reports I’ve gotten from staffers who no longer work there.

Another teacher wrote in to tell me about how this Shadow School situation looked like from the inside:

I worked for Eskridge last year. Noone even told me about MSA. It took me a month to figure out where the other “half of the school” was.

They even wear different colors!

MSA had lab-tops, East Iberville didn’t. Oops they’re the same school? WHAT A CROCK

two totally different schools. it makes me sick to see that it is even claimed

At one point USED informed us that this was a very bad thing going on. I was not allowed to confirm that we actually had this situation until after I left. When I tried to report this issue to EDEN, the federal data collection agency I never received even the courtesy of an out-of-office response. I sent e-mails to dozens of federal employees letting them know this was going on, and I never received a conformation or response of any kind. When I worked at DOE this was the response we got right away.

From: Osmonson, Kara (Contractor) [] On Behalf Of EDEN Submission System
Sent: Monday, July 11, 2011 1:48 PM
To: [Redacted]
Cc: Jason France
Subject: RE: federal/Eden defintion of a school #171302

Hi [Redacted]

PSC asked ED how they would like this situation to be handled and ED sent the following response.

“The situation that is described in the e-mail is inappropriate. If something meets the definition of a school, LA needs to assign it a state site code and report it as a school to EDFacts.

As far as the LEAs go, LA SEA needs to be clear that the LEA are expected to report schools and students accurately and completely. The SEA could consider requiring a certification of some kind from the LEAs, that the data are reporting accurately and completely.

LA SEA could elaborate to the LEAs that while the LEAs might get by with misleading reporting for a while, eventually they will get caught. Then send them copies of the articles about Atlanta Public School District.”

Please let us know if you have any further questions regarding this issue. Thank you.


Kara Osmonson

EDFacts Partner Support Center

Telephone: 877-457-3336 (877-HLP-EDEN)

Fax: 888-329-3336 (888-FAX-EDEN)

TTY/TDD: 888-403-3336 (888-403-EDEN)

From: [Redacted]
Sent: Thursday, July 07, 2011 5:56 PM
To: EDEN Submission System
Cc: Jason France; [Redacted]

Subject: RE: federal/Eden defintion of a school #171302


Please answer these questions and send back to Kara.



From: Osmonson, Kara (Contractor) [] On Behalf Of EDEN Submission System
Sent: Thursday, July 07, 2011 4:15 PM
To: [Redacted]

Cc: Jason France
Subject: RE: federal/Eden defintion of a school #171302

Hi [Redacted]

I have a couple of follow up questions for your concerning this.

1) Is this a common practice in Louisiana?

2) How does Louisiana treat/report these types of schools? Is there an established/common practice in Louisiana for these types of situations, or does the state not have a written rule and would like for ED to weigh in?

Once I have these response I will be able to look into this more accurately for you. Thank you.


Kara Osmonson

EDFacts Partner Support Center

Telephone: 877-457-3336 (877-HLP-EDEN)

Fax: 888-329-3336 (888-FAX-EDEN)

TTY/TDD: 888-403-3336 (888-403-EDEN)

From: Osmonson, Kara (Contractor) On Behalf Of EDEN Submission System
Sent: Thursday, July 07, 2011 12:30 PM
To: [Redacted]

Cc: Jason France
Subject: RE: federal/Eden defintion of a school #171302

Hi [Redacted]

Thank you for sending this to PSC. We will look into this question for you and get back to you with a response. Thank you.


Kara Osmonson

EDFacts Partner Support Center

Telephone: 877-457-3336 (877-HLP-EDEN)

Fax: 888-329-3336 (888-FAX-EDEN)

TTY/TDD: 888-403-3336 (888-403-EDEN)

From: [Redacted]
Sent: Thursday, July 07, 2011 11:16 AM
To: EDEN Submission System
Cc: Jason France; [Redacted]

Subject: RE: federal/Eden defintion of a school


I found the definition of school in the workbook. Jason has asked a question below that I would like PSC to answer.



From: Jason France
Sent: Thursday, July 07, 2011 10:14 AM
To: [Redacted]

Subject: RE: federal/Eden defintion of a school

What if an LEA has a “school” for all intents and purposes, except a site code and send their students as enrolled at another school to improve accountability scores at failing schools or to evade detection as a failing school by sprinkling their students among more successful schools so as not to have to report a failing “school”? Do the feds have an ruling/guide on that?

Apparently USED is not interested in discovering any more Atlanta situations. In the Georgia case the fraud was committed by dozens of teachers and principals by changing a few test items. In Louisiana this fraud is being perpetrated by the State Superintendent of Education, BESE members, and local superintendents and possibly Governor Jindal.  These folks have been hiding entire schools for going on 6 years,(during the entire Jindal Administration.) If you try to cover this you don’t get accolades, unlike the Atlanta scandal, you get fired even for asking questions.

Now it looks like Iberville is looking to expand its Shadow School program. I’ve heard reports that principals and parents of students in the schools for the poor kids have discussed trying to break away from Iberville to form their own school district, much like South East Baton Rouge is doing, except the geography is identical and in this case it’s the poor kids trying to get some decent experienced teachers and attention. Cancienne is using these poor kids like disposable batteries, to strip their funding to supply the MSAs with the best teachers and facilities money can buy.

Hello, I came across your blog on the MSA Academy in Plaquemine and I was shocked at some of the information you posted. I went to my first school board meeting this month for the first time in years and I would describe it as a circus. IPSB wants a Virtual Academy at the old North Iberville High School. They only want to open the library to house 30 students, however all the other schools have access and same advantages to the same courses. The school board hasn’t voted on the approval nor was a presentation of the cost analysis was given. I witnessed a company there last Monday installing wiring for internet. The school will be named MSA North Iberville (wow)! Let me go further to say the gpa requirements has been changed to 2.75 effective 2013-2014 school year. How can this be done when they are not a true magnet school?

Melvin Lodge sold North Iberville High out along with Daigle. East Iberville got to keep their school with a low enrollment plus an academy. Now they want to form their own school district saying they are tired of being treated like the “step child”. How about that for the latest in Iberville Parish news? The parents don’t know because they don’t educate themselves. This school has been given so much praise. The borderline students are being forced out back to their home school to make room for students coming in from private school and OTHER PARISHES; West Baton Rouge in particular. I made a mistake taking my kids out of private school. There is a meeting on the Virtual Academy at North Iberville this Thursday. One of my local board members that is in favor of this school requested Cancienne to come and hasn’t informed the parents. I have taken the initiative to do so and try to expose them. Thanks Again for your blog!

Despite what John White, and Edward Cancienne would have you believe, this is really what Iberville Reform looks like.

And if you don’t believe me, well now there’s a fired reporter to prove it.

If you believe in the Freedom of Press, you will make this go viral. If you value your freedom you must not tolerate this intimidation. Government agencies interfering and punishing the press is a clear cut violation of the First Amendment.

The Free Press Clause protects the freedom to publish. In Lovell v. City of Griffin (1938), Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes defined “press” as “every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion.” This right has been extended to media including newspapers, books, plays, movies, and video games.

A landmark decision for press freedom came in Near v. Minnesota (1931), in which the Supreme Court rejected prior restraint (pre-publication censorship). In this case, the Minnesota legislature passed a statute allowing courts to shut down “malicious, scandalous and defamatory newspapers”, allowing a defense of truth only in cases where the truth had been told “with good motives and for justifiable ends”. In a 5-4 decision, the Court applied the Free Press Clause to the states, rejecting the statute as unconstitutional. Hughes quoted Madison in the majority decision, writing, “The impairment of the fundamental security of life and property by criminal alliances and official neglect emphasizes the primary need of a vigilant and courageous press”.

But just like anything else, our “rights” are illusory if we don’t defend them. If you are someone that feels “criminal alliances” and “official neglect” are the American Way, then feel free to ignore this story, while you can. Just don’t complain when your property is expropriated, your children “disappeared” and no one cares.


John White’s Performance Review Press Release – Time Machine Edition

For Immediate Release – January 15th, 2013

BESE Congratulates Superintendent John White on performing an outstanding job

Chas Roemer , BESE President, explained to a packed Louisiana Purchase Room, filled to the brim with charter lobbyists and brown-nosing sycophants, that without John White’s leadership, Louisiana would have followed in the path of so many failures before it, by reporting accurate data.

“John White is a true champion of the Reform movement and Louisiana. He is not afraid to radically change our entire scoring system to in order to make it possible for 97% of our high school students to believe they are achieving more than their predecessors. Under his leadership I have no doubt we will reach whatever seemingly random goal he sets for us, and even shatter it!”

“Under John White’s guidance, Louisiana has innovated to become a true leader in manufacturing faux performance gains. Whether it’s raising SPS scores by 15 points, excluding low performing schools from being included in calculations, or shadow schools altogether, White has been instrumental in showing Louisiana how to turn ignorant belief into mesmerizing reality.”

Holly Boffy, BESE cheerleader, exclaimed “Give me a W! Give me an I! Give me a G H T! Goooooooo Wight!” Mrs. Boffy was informed later of the actual spelling of John White’s name (although she remained skeptical it was not the same as the undead bloodsucking traitors of Tolkien lore.)

Students First, a corporate shill organization run and funded by charter organizations, has recognized John White’s outstanding contributions to their cause and given John White and Louisiana a top grade in conforming to their profiteering agenda. This endorsement came at some personal cost to Students First as they had to endorse a State that rated an “F” on achievement according to Education Week magazine, ranking slightly ahead of the absolute worst state, Mississippi.

When asked what his goal was for next year, John White replied, “Mississippi is going down! It’s about time Louisiana was the top of a list for once! We haven’t driven off all our best teachers and replaced them with crappy virtual school simulations and defunded traditional districts just to stay 49th!”

Based on the applause and cheers greeting this statement, most of those assembled appeared to believe John White could achieve this goal.

For Questions about this release, simply attend the BESE meeting at the Claiborne Building in downtown Baton Rouge, January 15th and 16th, 2013, while they review John White’s performance and BESE ignores anyone who raises objections.

 To download a copy:sFor Immediate Release

The Mainstream Media is Dead

The Mainstream Media is Dead

You can’t rely in any mainstream media anymore.

Maybe you never could, but the world seemed more sane and less corrupt when I thought you could.

For me, the realization crystalized fully when I recently had a story pulled, for the second time, on LPB (Louisiana Public Broadcasting).  It was about shadow schools (schools like the ones in Iberville that are not being reported to the state or federal government so small school districts can racial and financially segregate their students.)   I jumped through all the ridiculous hoops and roadblocks they kept throwing in my path and even agreed to do the interview non-anonymously at no small personal risk to myself and my family (who were all against it.)

I know that if it was my children in those failing schools, being masked as adequate, that I would really hope someone would tell me what was going on if they knew.  My children only have one childhood and one chance at an education.  Once that chance is lost, once my children’s formative years sacrificed so wealthier whiter kids have a better shot, there is no going back.

However the editorial staff at LPB told the reporter I was working with, “it will never show on LPB.”

Not because there was anything factually untrue, but because there was “a chance” it might offend Jindal and John White.

Before I started getting involved with blogging, trying to contact and work with reporters, and the media I was under the false assumption that at least PBS and NPR were immune to meddling; that we had some sort of watchdog group looking out for us if we truly lost our way.

The sad truth is that corporate and political interests control all mainstream media.  If the media you watch or read employs people who depend on a job, those people are afraid to cover anything too controversial or to get too involved that they step on any toes.  And these days, who doesn’t?

Sure, we have flavors of news, like TCBY ice cream flavors, but would a Fox News reporter be able to cover a Republican sex or corruption scandal like they cover the made up ones like Benghazi?  Would Rachel Maddow spend a lot of time covering a possible Planned Parenthood issue or a possible issue with ACORN?    (I’m not saying there issues brought up about Planned Parenthood or ACORN are legit, just if they were, we probably would not hear about them from CNBC first nor in the amount of salacious detail Fox would slather on such topics.)control all groups that rely

If your news organization relies on advertising, government funding, or donations for the existence of their station, they are beholden to those interests.  They are beholden to CEOs, shareholders, advertisers, and politicians.  Bobby Jindal wields line item veto power over anything in the budget in Louisiana.  LPB survives, in part, on state funding.  Bobby Jindal has a robust reputation for punishing those who say things he disapproves of, firing staffer after staffer who says anything, even under oath, other than the approved talking points.  I suppose I can understand why LPB would feel they have to appease Jindal and cover local festivals and 3 legged dogs large tomato contests rather than anything of substance, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it, nor that this is how I think things should be.

Bloggers can be wrong, but at least they are not afraid to be right – which is more than can said for most reporters and media these days.

I’m sure I would feel different if my own livelihood depended on not offending anyone, but isn’t that the problem?


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.