John White “I’m just a leaf in the wind.”

John White “I’m just a leaf in the wind.”

In an e-mail response to  Deborah Tonguis, 2009 Teacher of the Year, regarding the obvious inflation of SPS scores John White claims he doesn’t understand simple mathematical formulae or obvious statistical anomalies, and couldn’t possibly be expected to, since all the decisions that went into it were made long before he got there.

To your point, and to her analysis, I think I’ve been as up front about the situation as possible. See this article:
The story is, as is said there, that three factors, each determined years in advance of my arrival in this role, let to a significant increase in scores. You can argue whether they are inflated per se or not, of course.  [John White]

I think it’s safe to say many people have argued they are inflated.  Frankly, only a complete idiot would think they weren’t.  It’s a crying shame there aren’t tests or educational requirements for State Superintendents, eh?  You got lucky there, bud.

John White somehow thinks that directing Deborah to an article in the Advocate ,where he makes the point that only 3 high schools in the entire state did not decline, somehow gets him off the hook for not noticing and simultaneously excuses him for taking credit for performance because he’s increased expectations? (While actually doing the exact opposite formulaicly)

White pointed out that growth in performance scores was not confined to high schools. Indeed, 76 percent of the almost 1,300 schools that earned scores in 2011-12 improved compared with the year before.

High schools’ performance score growth, however, far outpaced the growth in elementary and middle schools.

For instance, while 74 percent of elementary and middle schools improved at least some compared with 2010-11, more than 97 percent of high schools improved their scores during that same time period.

Indeed, only four out of 130 high schools declined, while 252 out of 956 elementary and middle schools declined. [The Advocate]

White points out that 97% of high schools improved their SPS score and also admits in his letter to Deborah that he fully understood all the changes that were implemented and that the impact of those changes would have significant impacts on the scores making them useless for comparison purposes without proper calibration, which he did not do, and which was fully within his power to ask for.

The factors are:

  1. The decision to count graduation rate in the high school SPS (the grad rate grew in response by more than four percentage points, increasing schools’ numbers dramatically)
  2. The inclusion of a bonus for all schools with rates over 65 percent (the increase in the rate above was compounded in its impact through this bonus)
  3. The onset of the EOC tests, and schools becoming accustomed to these tests, perhaps faster than anticipated
In each case, the Department made a decision years ago to give points in specific ways. We now see the results of those decisions. In one sense, the decisions achieved exactly what they were supposed to achieve: schools focused on graduation and on EOC tests. On the other hand, according to some, they skewed the results. One way or the other, they were decisions made for valid reasons with the best information the Department had at the time. [John White]
Uh, Superintendent dude.  You have well over 500 employees and dozens that work on statistics, scores, and PR spin.  You can more than 20 years worth of data at your fingertips and you had test results from previous years for the tests you were switching over to.  So are you such a complete imbecile and never asked anyone to calculate what the impacts on the scores were? Lets assume yes.  You’re a blithering idiot. Now all the scores come out and 97% of schools increase their scores and this does not raise any alarm bells for you to question the data? No one, not one single person of your 500+ employees raised their hand and explained to you the numbers might not be what they appear? All the people who calculate and compare these scores.  All the people who compile the reports, and talk this shit up, they are idiots too?  I worked with a number of them.  I know most of the idiots that work there are the ones you brought in and that there are many non-idiots still employed there. . .counting down the days till their retirement so they can escape the hell hole you turned DOE into. (But I digress)
So I guarantee that you were told, that you fully understood these scores were not comparable.  You admit as much in your e-mail.  You and I both know only a fool would accept a 97% increase in scores without a single question, especially with the many changes you enumerate.  I’ve proven with my friends Mercedes Schneider and Herbert Bassett, that even outsiders can not only identify this problem, but quantify it with just some basic, publicly available data.
Are you really gonna stick with the story that you were helpless, that you were acted upon by forces you had no control over, that you were just a leaf in the wind, blown about by complicated forces beyond your control?  So either John White is a mental midget, or he is a blatantly dishonest person.  He’s also claimed that he’s improved all sorts of other stats with his raised expectations.  How can you trust that?  He’s continuously shown either a great lack of understanding, or a great lack of character and integrity.
I will leave you with this quote from The Advocate article.

“The schools met two different challenges at the same time,” White said.

The challenges are growing more challenging. Consequently, it’s possible that schools that improved a letter grade this year may drop back to where they were, or even decline. [The Advocate]

Holy crap.  At the very least, he’s an idiot.

White’s Lies and Faux Student Improvement – Part II (The prediction edition)

White’s Lies and Faux Student Improvement – Part II (The prediction edition)

My apologies for publishing so many articles so quickly folks, but I’ve been getting  a lot of material lately to go through and some of what it reveals is truly astounding and needs to be shared.

To recap:

I recently published an article on how the most recent release of SPS scores was inflated simply due to a new test being introduced with a higher average base score.  This caused all schools with grades 9-12 to receive inflated SPS (School Performance Scores) and letter grades and gave people the false impression that our schools were doing better.  Essentially John White just gave every high school an average of 11-13 point increase where about 15 points is a new letter grade category.  White then produced multiple press releases crowing about his success.

I figured it was a lost cause to try to explain the nitty-gritty details about how this was happening and just let it go.  I predicted this would happen in earlier posts, but I didn’t really have the numerical proof nor the professorial chops to explain and be credibly accepted.  However recently we’ve had some very gifted folks (namely Dr. Mercedes Schneider and Herb Bassett) expose White’s SPS shell game for the con it was.

However White’s machinations and manipulations of our scoring system have not stopped there.  If anything, that fraudulent mischaracterization was just the warm-up for something truly audacious, the coming 2013 scoring bonanza!  This will be the year most of our F and D schools will leap the rankings to C and B status without doing a single damn thing different.  In fact, many of these schools may actually decline in dramatic ways but to all appearances  they will be improving.

Herbert Bassett does an excellent job explaining what scores would look like using existing data to do a side-by-side comparison of what scores would look like under the old method and the new method John White has proposed that will punch his ticket to ride out of our state on the wings of his fictionalized success.


In its purest essence, the new School Assessment System is just another manipulation of School performance Scores to further the narrative of the school reform / privatization movement. The new School Assessment System shifts emphasis from improving all students to focusing on only those who are below grade level. The lowered values given high achievers (Advanced for the iLEAP/LEAP, Excellent for the EOC) tends to lower the scores of highest performing schools; the lowered grade scale tends to boost more low performing schools out of the F category. Without any change in student achievement, this is narrows the gap through the design of the system. (see chart below) What change in student achievement that it does encourage focuses only on the low performing students.

new system vs old SPS system

Grade Distribution for K-8 of the new and old Assessment Systems based on the 2011 data. The
old (red columns) and new (blue columns) systems are applied to the same student achievement
data, but yield significantly different grade distributions. Note the large decrease in F’s and the
minimal increase in A’s . Note also the overall inflation (more higher grades) of the new vs the
old. There is no change in school performance here, only the implementation of a new, less
rigorous grade scale. Furthermore, when the new Super Sub-Group bonus is applied, the grade
inflation becomes more pronounced. Details and discussion are provided in this document.
The narrowing of the gap and the coming K-8 grade inflation will not reflect any real improvements in
our schools. They will merely be the spin of a curve ball thrown by the astro-turf STAND for Children
organization. [Herbert Bassett – 2013 Letter Grade Manipulations]

You can read his entire report here: 2013_School_Letter_Grade_Manipulations_release

I will summarize a few of his points, but this report is a nice piece of work and I highly recommend reading it if you have a vested interest in Louisiana, education, children, teachers, local school districts, or if you think John White is really looking out for the interests of children or interested in actually improving education.  Based on this report, there is little doubt John White is interested in “claiming” he has improved education for Louisiana. This is a very ambitious transformation of the scoring system that strongly favors and boosts low performing schools.  To the causal observer, just looking at his meaningless “letter grades” it will appear that our schools dramatically improved.  The reality may actually be the opposite.

(Something Mr. Bassett did not go into in his report is that this will instantly transform RSD (the Recovery School District run by the state and perennially hovering around the bottom one or two spots out of all school districts) into the middle of the pack.  Most of the kids still won’t be able to read or count to 10, but they will probably be listed as a D or C district based on the new scoring system.  So if you are a low performing school district that thinks this can only be good, look out.  This might be used as a case to raise the level at which the state takes over schools and turns them over to a seemingly miracle-working RSD system.)

Now to continue with Mr Bassett’s intro. . .

The new School Assessment System at first glance seems tougher than the old. The narrative offered by John White reinforces that idea.

In reality, at least for the K-8 schools, it is quite the opposite.

The apparent source of his new School Assessment System is STAND for Children, Louisiana.

STAND for Children’s document “Raising the Bar: Increasing Expectations, Increasing Student

Achievement” tells another story when examined closely.

Raising the Bar. Increasing Expectations… Baloney and spin.

The new system is designed to:

1) inflate the K-8 School Performance Scores (SPS), 2) lower the scores of the highest performing schools and raise the scores of low performing schools in order to narrow to gap between high and low performing schools without any real change in actual achievement, 3) shift the emphasis from developing all students including high performing students to improving students who are below grade level, and, 4) provide business to the standardized testing industry.

Below is the link to Raising the Bar: Increasing Expectations, Increasing Student Achievement.

This link was provided by John White in his Sept. 19, 2012 Ed-Connect.  [Bassett]

Basically Bassett points out over the course of his analysis is that K-8 scores of low performing schools will be drastically inflated by a letter grade or more.  This will actually just boost them up to the level that the new tests White implemented this year for High Schools were raised to.  However, it appears most of the changes are slated in the favor of low performers.  This will have the added bonus of seeming to narrow the achievement gap by reducing much of the benefits and bonus that applied to high performing schools.

John White is using fun house mathematics.

Much Better

He’s making the good schools look at themselves through the mirror that makes them look fatter than they are. . .


. . .and letting the fat kids look at the skinny mirror.


Then he plans to take these photos and show them to the public as say “equality achieved!”  I don’t really have a solution for you.  This is just how it is.

Enjoy your “success” Louisiana legislators and BESE members.  I can honestly say that in this case, you earned it.


If you allow this absurdity to take place John White will be leaving less than a year after these 2013 scores come out.  Bank it.  But you will still be here and the mirrors will be gone. You will be remembered for what you’ve done. . . and what you haven’t.

White’s Lies and Louisiana’s Faux School Improvement – Part I

White’s Lies and Louisiana’s Faux School Improvement – Part I

When I first saw a press release some months ago from the Louisiana Department of Education heralding scads of school improvement and data that showed almost all of the state’s high schools had significant gains, suffice it to say I was a tad skeptical.  I know all too well of some of the tricks LDE has employed in the past with some creative reporting, as well as the decimation and phase out of most competent data personnel in favor of political lackeys and TFA toddlers.  I also knew at the same time most of the accountability folks (the folks who calculate the School Performance Scores “SPS” and Report Cards) were fleeing as fast as they could find a new home, LDE was choosing to make changes to the actual tests used to create the SPS scores.  From previous research, and over the course of several other posts and post , I examined and explained how LDE was creating a shell game, by changing the total score points, tests, labels (going from stars to grades) etc.  My point was that this was being done to make the scores so confusing no one would be able to understand them or the fact that they would essentially become meaningless for comparison purposes.  I explained that John White would capitalize on this fact to tell the public and media exactly what they wanted to hear, that all the initiatives of John White and the reform movement were working!  This would provide him the necessary PR capital to continue his evisceration of our educational system and to even vastly accelerate his education “deforms”, as most informed opponents refer to the over testing/school privatization/VAM bowel-inspired movement.

However I was wrong.

occasionally it does happen, but I am happy that it did in this case.

You see, two researchers with bigger brains than this little crustacean (and obviously more free time) were able to identify what was going on and even to quantify it!  If you are curious about the details or know someone that might be, please pass along this report and letter.



Apparently the scores are skewed move than 11 points which pushed most schools with grades 9-12 (which take the new End Of Course “EOC” test) up a full “letter grade.”  These increases mislead parents and the general public into believing “something” happened more significant than simply changing a test that students score higher on, that yields a 11+ point increase to schools’ SPS scores.

You can even see this skewing trend in LDE’s own chart from a table include in their press release.

Note the percentage of high schools receiving “A” grades compared to the grades given to k-8 schools.  Instead of trumpeting their achievement, LDE should have tried to verify if it was legitimate. . . Or perhaps they did realize but figured no one would notice?

Fall 2012 By Letter Grade and Grade Configuration
Letter # K-8 % K-8 # Combin % Combin # High Sch % High Sch # Total % Total
A 80 8% 35 18% 48 35% 163 13%
B 216 22% 63 32% 29 21% 308 24%
C 297 31% 41 21% 21 15% 359 28%
D 253 26% 26 13% 28 20% 307 24%
F 115 12% 30 15% 12 9% 157 12%
T 8 1% 0 0% 1 1% 9 1%
Total 969 100% 195 100% 139 100% 1303 100%

These researchers seem to believe this press release and these SPS scores were calculated and labeled so as to intentionally mislead BESE and the general public.  With a few notable valiant exceptions, most of BESE is the property of Jindal and the charter schools that funded their campaign so i don’t think BESE needed to be mislead to parrot whatever John White tells them to say.  However I will give them the benefit of the doubt on the general public.

a) The Transition Baselines are in a column mislabeled “2011 Baseline School Performance
Score” and found only on the second sheet of the spreadsheet document. The mislabeling of the
Transition Baseline in the 2012 School Performance Scores/Letter Grades – Alphabetical by
District document on the LDOE website gives the appearance of impropriety.
BESE was provided data with the Transition Baseline column labelled correctly.
It appears that there was intent to divert attention from the existence of the Transition Baseline,
as it is key to understanding the SPS inflation.  [excerpt from Herbert W. Bassett’s report]

There is an additional layer to this “transition baseline” issue.  I postulate that DOE knows they did not correctly calibrate the scores because they tried to hide the “transitional baseline” in plain sight in the 2012 school performance score spreadsheet on the DOE website.  First, the “transitional baseline” is hidden on the second page of the spreadsheet.  “Surely,” one could argue, “this is not intentional; after all, it’s so much data.  It was better divided into two spreadsheets.”  That may stand as a valid argument. However, on that second page, the “transitional baseline” is hidden under a false name: 2011 Baseline School Performance Score.  Now, there IS a real column with this name on the first page of the spreadsheet, and it really is the 2011 baseline scores.  Who would think to compare the data from the 2011 baseline as listed on the first page to the 2011 “baseline” on the second page?  Who would figure out that the mislabeled column is really the “transitional baseline”?  Who would realize that the high/combination school scores are inflated from looking at a single, mislabeled column on the second page, if even one thought to check for a second page to the spreadsheet?

Not most people.

One could certainly argue that this false labeling of the “transitional baseline” is intent to deceive.

The score inflation is most obvious when one compares the 2011 baseline to the transition baseline.  That is where I noticed it first, in the clearly labeled spreadsheet sent to BESE prior to 2012 school performance score release. [excerpt from Mercedes K. Schneider, Ph.D. letter to Superintendent John White]

They seem pretty convinced that this is true subterfuge and not merely incompetence.  I’m inclined to believe them, more than this guy.

Look thataway!
Look thataway!

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.


Louisiana and John White decide to explicitly codify Shadow Schools

Louisiana and John White decide to explicitly codify Shadow Schools

I think it’s safe to say I underestimated just how sleazy John White and his TFA toddlers were capable of being. When confronted from multiple sources with evidence of Shadow Schools (unreported schools or formerly reported schools no longer reported for the purposes of altering accountability scores) rather than crack down on districts like St James and Iberville, who are using unreported magnet schools to raise the scores of terrible schools in their district above the academically unacceptable threshold, John White has chosen to change BESE policy to allow these situations – knowing full well:

  • they will lead to falsely raised scores
  • fewer schools in AUS status
    • thus more kudos for him and his team
    • and more faux feathers for the DOE peaCock to proudly fan in the faces of his next employer.

This excerpt comes from a Louisiana Believes summary document circulated by LDOE before a BESE meeting on October 16th where John White made numerous proposals to tweak various scores so his “reforms” would look like they were working and so his paycheck and prestige could get even larger.

The following extract is from the precise agenda that was passed by BESE on October 16th allowing school districts to decide what a program was and what was a school.

If districts “decide” to declare they have a school; that “school” must report its own test scores and will get assigned its own SPS score. If a district decides they would like to define any of their schools as “programs” they can do that. There are no questions or requirements. They can route those students from that program anywhere they want. If I was one of the larger districts like Jefferson, Caddo, or EBR that was told no before and has been enduring a plague of school takeovers I would immediately stop reporting all of my schools. If your district is above 70 SPS you can report your entire district as a single “school” now. You can define one district school and all the other schools as alternative programs that route to this school. If you want to start small, just declare a few of your high performing magnets as alternative programs and route those students to the school in your district in danger of being taken over.

Don’t worry, about parents. You can still report the data accurately on your website like St James and Iberville; this is just about making sure John White has a decent legacy and spiffy credentials for his next education heist.

This Reform [Bowel] Movement that John White, Michele Rhee, Joel Klein and TFA are pushing down throats locally and nationwide was never about students or achievement. It was about money and power. It was about smoke and mirrors. It was about making you “Believe.”

Each feather represents a shattered dream for a child, but a dream come true for me! Keep on Believing Louisiana!

A listing of some of LDOE’s dirty little secrets

A listing of some of LDOE’s dirty little secrets
Dirty Secrets or White Lies?


St James Science and Math Academy is part of both Lutcher and St James High Schools

St James Science and Match Academy is a shadow school split between two other high schools.  This post includes Maps, addresses, info from website and the summary of why LDOE is probably letting some schools get away with this while preventing the larger “markets” such as Jefferson, EBR and Caddo from doing this. Orleans would have been treated likewise if it hadn’t already been wiped out.  Orleans served as the gateway from Hades, letting all the charter school demons and devils into the state in the first place.

Iberville: MSA West + White Castle = White Castle

MSA West and White Castle are the same school according to the admin folks at Iberville.   Their website had them operating as an independent site since 2008. White Castle would have already been taken over if not for this charade, so to that extent they were successful.

Iberville: MSA Eest + East Iberville = East Iberville

MSA East is the exact same school housed entirely within East Iberville (like a program in Ruston) according to Iberville. However I have the pictures of the school grounds and directions to and from the two separate campuses. (Google maps has the addresses a little messed up, but I found the correct schools by scanning the area.)  This school has also been operating since 2008 according to their own website. East Iberville would also have been taken over by now if left on its own.

I think it’s worth noting that parents of students as East Iberville and White Castle seem confused as to why the test scores are going up, but the schools seem to be terrible.  One parent reported that a teacher told her son he didn’t need to study because he was smart and could get by.  I trolled a few opinion sites related to White Castle and East Iberville so it was interesting reading.  None of the parents posting on the school review sites seemed aware that these magnets were being merged with the schools their kids were attending.

Some of my original expose’ work on MSA East and West.

This post includes charts from LDOE, excerpts from Iberville’s website, as well as some background on what happened at LDOE when i first discovered these schools and how the issue was swept under the rug (again.)  Apparently this is a recurring issue.

Excerpted definition of a shadow school (haven’t finished my log of issues to address yet)

I started a log of various education issues that need a champion in our state.  I haven’t had a chance to document them all, but everyone has to start somewhere.  I have sketched out the topics and started an entry for the shadow school situation.

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.

Answer to – why create shadow schools?

Why indeed?  Once word of how this works gets out all our school districts will realize they only need to have one school, and all the current sites can be closed and relisted as programs underneath the single district “school.”  That will prevent the state from taking them over and giving them to charter operators that don’t take care of the properties or the students in their care.

Shadow Schools introduced – excuses DOE would make on their behalf

I bet they might even make an argument that what Iberville is doing doesn’t hurt anyone so why not let them do it?  Please ask them how much crack they have been smoking if they make that argument.


John White is afraid to release this data because then he would be forced to deal with it. He’s hiding this to protect allies in the northern part of the state. Just ask him for it. I’ve prepared a file to do the asking. I think everyone should send it.  Corporal punishment Data Request Spreadsheet all ready to go!

John White wants schools to beat children, especially the disabled ones.  He wouldn’t have to do it if those deaf kids would just listen the first time.

Virtual Schools Truancy Fiasco

Some interesting decisions from everyone’s favorite LDOE group, Parental Options.  This describes how LDOE knows kids are not logging in and producing any work but won’t let the virtual charters drop them.  Take our money please!  Kids can get a free computer and internet connection to surf the internet and never go to school again.  Well, it’s not exactly free.  It will cost taxpayers about 10-15 k  year to pay 90+% of MFP amount, plus the costs of educating or incarcerating these uneducated kids once LDOE finally allows them to drop out and they have no employment options.

Accountability; and the Lack thereof due to political meddling

Loaded with great ideas like using a Special Education test to test “voucher” students to show how well they do and labeling failed/taken over schools as “T” (rather than a nifty letter grade) and perpetually assigning them to new charter operators until one of them succeeds – without ever revealing how poorly they are doing.  This post also describes lying about school sizes so evade reporting responsibilities, manipulating data and terms to circumvent the ESEA/NCLB waiver.

It’s not how well you do, but who you know that leads to real school improvement, at least as far as SPS scores and letter grades are concerned.  Why else do you think they hide the formula that calculates these scores and all the special “adjustments” they make behind the scenes.  If you are a favored LEA, meaning you kiss John White’s. . . well lets just say you can get a “special adjustment” if you know how and who to ask.

The little 504 secret LDOE doesn’t want to address

Namely, that we have lots of data on 504 kids.  From that data we know that a number of districts shirk their responsibilities under section 504 of the American’s with Disabilities Act.  That law’s only been around since 1973 so I’m sure they will get around to enforcing or addressing the inequities sooner or later.  Since we still don’t see any reports on this data I’d wager it will be much, much later.

Our Persistently Dangerous School definition is a joke

 As part of the NCLB act states were supposed to develop a definition of a “persistently dangerous school.”  Students enrolled in such schools are eligible to transferred out upon request.  Many of our alternative schools are very very dangerous by most accounts and statistics.  This definition was crafted so no schools can every meet the definition.  There is no profit to be made in identifying dangerous schools, and there are additional regulatory responsibilities for LDOE to take on in regards to monitoring these schools – so me made sure there will never be any such schools defined.  We almost had a few one year, so the definition was changed retroactively.  I wonder if John White would consider this an adult issue or a children’s issue?

Dropout Number Farce

Louisiana has been reporting a decrease in dropouts year over year, but only because they have decreased their auditing to stop districts from exiting students to undocumented non-dropout reasons like transfers to non-publics or out-of-state.  Our population has been increasing and very little increase in grads, while half as many dropouts year over year is not possible.  LDOE knows this, but doesn’t want to spoil a good thing.  Additionally LDOE adopted a loophole in the dropout definition, over my protestations, to allow student attending adult education centers to be excluded from dropout calculations while they are attending.  LDOE does not verify this is occurring, leaving this up the school districts to report.  Districts are supposed to report when these kids stop attending adult education centers, but they don’t.  I estimated this would lead to about 5000 unreported/accounted for dropouts every year.  Based on the stats I’ve, I may have underestimated that total by quite a bit.

SSN’s cannot be required.  If everyone stops providing them this could cause the Value Added system to collapse

This is something local superintendents and parents can do to fight back.  Value Added is a steaming pile of statistical junk.  It can reveal trends and tendencies when looking at large sample sizes and quantities of data.   Whomever came up with the idea of using VAM to evaluate teachers should have been strangled or at least had their statistical credentials revoked.  Corporations are pushing for this so they can take over school systems and Republicans are pushing this so they can destroy teachers unions.  Value Added does not help children, and actually hurts them by removing and demoralizing really good teachers.

Value Added (what they are using to evaluate teachers) is massively flawed

Value Added is junk math and was only barely suitable for generalizing teaching programs on average, not individual teachers.  It leaves out many variables and mostly punishes good and great teachers along with some bad ones.  It is erratic and unreliable.  It is designed to decimate public schools, so charters can come in and fill the void and so states can ignore the single greatest indicator of student performance – poverty.  This will also lead to a drastic teacher shortage and force school districts to increase class sizes to make use of the available teachers, or to resort to virtual schools which have virtually no limit on class sizes, or profits for their owners.

Anti-Bullying Failures

John White embraced the agenda of Gene Mills to exclude bullying reason codes.  Act 861 removes any obligation for charter schools to report or address bullying.  Even before this legislation passed Erin Bendilly, head of Parental Options and support staff and an early Jindal appointee, repeatedly told the charter schools they did not have to report or comply with the law – over the advice of our chief legal counsel.  I guess she gets her wish, and meanwhile children die at charter schools from bullying and John White makes more false claims about how he cares about children.

What LDOE knows of the charter practices for excluding less desirable students from charter schools

You’d think LDOE would try to address some of these things, but by ignoring them they make it easier to make a case that public schools are failing and charter schools are succeeding – even if the data actually hasn’t backed that assertion up to date.  Instead much of the research they had me do confirmed these accusations and suspicions, but was kept hushed up and confidential while they worked to settle the lawsuits.  Why taxpayers should have to foot that bill rather than the charters who are discriminating against students with disabilities is a good question.  Ask Jindal in a few years when he returns to our state for a hurricane or when Bayou Corne finally blows up.  Once they get a public school entirely composed of disabled and 504 students they may finally have the proof they need that public schools do worse than charter schools.

I have more, but this seems like a good start for anyone interested in how messed up public education is with John White at the helm of LDOE and Jindal in charge of BESE.

St James parish is proudly displaying that the Science and Math Academy is part of both Lutcher and St James High Schools

St James parish is proudly displaying that the Science and Math Academy is part of both Lutcher and St James High Schools

St James parish is proudly displaying that the Science and Math Academy is part of both Lutcher and St James High Schools.  That’s very generous of them, especially considering they are about 20+ miles apart on opposite sides of the Mississippi. Here is the address of their shared non-school.3125 Valcour Aime Street  = Science and Math Academy


This is not a school. That would mean it would need a sitecode and its own accountability score. It is actually St James High and Lutcher High.


But don’t just take my word for it, this information is freely available, in scrolling banner form, from their own website.



So where are Lutcher and St James High do you ask?


1581 Wildcat Street, St James, LA = St James High

Only around 7- 8 miles away for this one

And this is what St James High looks like.

It’s seen better days, at least from this perspective. Lots os outdoor activities and space though.


And where is Lutcher High do you ask?  This one is my favorite to-date.

1910 West Main Street, Lutcher

St James Math and Science and Lutcher High School – 15 miles and 30 mins away across the Mississippi river.

And here is a closer look at Lutcher High school.

Quite a commute to class, there.

That seems like an interesting situation to look into since that site doesn’t exist on its own.


But does exist on their website.


But you know what else I found interesting?  The Career and Technology Center is not listed, but from the website appears to have its own set of students.  And Romeville elementary has disappeared for this year.  St James still has the old website for Romeville  hanging around, but not directly navigable to, and it has a mention of a meeting to discuss the closing of the school and nothing posted for this school year.  I guess we know how that meeting turned out.

This is what “accountability” has done to our state.  Closing of community schools rather than let the state take them over and put horribly disorganized charter operators/profiteers, or hiding of new school buildings so as the spread the scores around.  From what I’ve seen of the these voucher and charter school operators, and the lack of transparency and accountability for those folks, I can’t say I blame them.

My understanding is LDOE knows full well about the existence of these schools (who do you think tipped me off in the first place?) but they are allowing some parishes to do this, and others like Jefferson, EBR and Caddo are being told no.  Those are bigger markets, with more money for charter operators, so I can see why those would be bigger prizes.  LDOE is keeping all the smaller districts quiet by tacitly allowing these schools to operate and avoid most of the sanctions for accountability that then plan to impose on larger districts.  I wish the smaller districts would simply join forces with the larger ones and tell LDOE to shove it, and to tell their local legislators to get some balls and tell Jindal to shove it too.

You smaller guys may have evaded the sanctions for now, but believe me, the time will come when John White and LDOE will yank that rug out from under you, and discredit you in the process.  It would be better to stand united and face them now, than to allow them to divide and conquer you one by one.  Feel free to use my posts as proof that LDOE knows full well what you are doing and is allowing you to do so, in exchange for your silence and cooperation.  Just make sure you do everything they say, as quickly as you can, and never step out of line – or they will punish you.  You’ll be able to live like this for a few more years – perhaps.  When the charters run out of targets and fuel in the cities, rest assured they will come for you, your children and your tax dollars.  But by then, it will be too late to speak up.