Further Investigations of LDOE and John White are Warranted and Long Overdue

Further Investigations of LDOE and John White are Warranted and Long Overdue

Now that some investigations are underway by the Jindal Administration into John White and his Department of Education and how they allocated and spent funds on PARCC test and Common Core promotion and training I thought it would be a good idea to advise folks about some ongoing and perpetual financial mismanagement and malfeasance in office on the part of John White and LDOE. I have been gathering tips and reports for months from numerous current and former employees about vast amount of intentional mismanagement (although it was termed fraud and theft by those reporting it to me) of a wide variety of programs and functions maintained and performed by the LDOE. I was even told there are reports available that document part of the story and I was pointed to the Legislative Auditor’s site for some public reports that may not have been fully understood by the public and properly investigated when they were released. I was also given some of the backstory on a few of them – details that did not make it into the published reports but which Daryl Purpera (who heads the Legislative Auditor’s Office) and Steven Street at the OIG should probably consider investigating on their own.

So let’s just get into the nitty gritty. . .

Payroll Fraud – Type 1: Employees, mostly from John White’s executive team at LDOE, are not showing up for work, but are documenting that they are. Some live in New Orleans or outside of Baton Rouge. Some of them have offices at both LDOE and in the New Orleans RSD headquarters and are not at either location, not visiting schools, and claim to be working from home. As you might imagine happens, the real LDOE employees check up on these folks that waltz into the department making outrageous salaries with little experience and produce nothing tangible but padding to apply to their resume’s. These employees are not actually doing any work from home and are unreachable to regular department staff most of the week, most weeks. This has been going on for years, since John White took over at LDOE. John White cycles through employees that produce nothing for Louisiana, but which he then is able to send to other departments of education and charter organizations throughout the country equipped with fancy titles, fat salary histories and glowing recommendations from him and his lackeys. This has been reported by numerous employees and confirmed by numerous time and attendance keepers across the department who are frustrated at covering for these people.

Payroll Fraud – Type 2: John White has been misallocating federal funds dedicated to specific programs for years since he came to power. The federal government provides specific funding allocations for specific programs like IDEA (Special Education.) The funds provided by the Federal government come with strings attached. These funds are required to be spent on employees performing a specific role for a specific federal program. To attempt to circumvent these rules John White and his staff started having staff across the department (code) allocate a portion of their salaries to these federal programs they had nothing to do with. When reporting to the federal government how we are spending their funds we tally up these percentages to equivalent FTE’s, (Full Time Equivalent) employees. I heard this became a widespread practice shortly after I left. To provide some cover for this scheme John White also secretly reorganized the Department of Education, without first getting any legislative approval as is required (by laws he doesn’t follow.) When the legislative auditor’s office went in to audit the department they found 22% of the employees from a random sample were “miscoded” to federal programs. What the auditor’s office did not realize was this was not an accident, this was intentional. Moreover, the auditor’s office found that 100% of recent changes to coding (when they just examined recent changes) were incorrect.

For the second consecutive year, DOE did not properly allocate federal payroll expenditures to the correct federal programs in accordance with the completed employee certifications. This resulted in $96,183 in overcharges to the programs which may have to be returned to the federal government. In a test of payroll certifications for 36 employees, the cost distribution report for eight (22%) did not agree to the federal program and percentage charged per the certifications, resulting in overcharges to the programs totaling $96,183. The Title I Grants to Local

Educational Agencies (CFDA 84.010) and Special Education – Preschool Grants (CFDA 84.173) programs and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Consolidated Administrative Funds (various ESEA programs) were charged $23,436; $227; and $72,520, respectively, for payroll expenditures that did not match the employees’ documented work effort. Also, in a test of 19 employees with system coding changes during the year, DOE did not maintain a properly completed payroll coding change form to support the cost distribution changes made for any of the 19 (100%) employees tested.

That is not a typo. Every single payroll coding “change” they looked at was wrong. The department made the excuse that this was because of a “reorganization” they undertook. (This was done so secretly, illegally, and without permission, but forget all that and don’t hold us accountable for breaking the law. . .  even though it is a direct result of breaking a different law. ) Below is LDOE’s response to these findings:

During the time period of the audit, the Department was undergoing a re-organization in an effort to better align the work of Department staff with the needs of teachers, students, and parents across the state. The reorganization of the Department resulted in some confusion as to how time and effort was going to be coded for individuals whose job location or job function and duties was shifting.

However this was not innocent incompetence. Employees advised their supervisors they had no duties to the programs they were told to code their timesheet with (to draw down federal funds.) This was done intentionally, possibly to free up funding for the voucher program or for Common Core materials and PARCC testing cost defraying. What is more, LDOE is reorganizing the Department . . . again.

Only a small portion of that annual billion dollar piece of federal pie was audited related to certifications (of which 1/5th were incorrectly accounted for). This 5 billion dollar annually baked pie is why so many outside groups invested millions in our BESE races last election cycle.

This decision has led to a vast information vacuum in the districts which relied on State employees to provide guidance on federal laws and programs.  I’ve heard numerous reports of how districts are not following federal law in regards to disabled children. This is not a victimless crime, it is impacted disabled children and their families. I imagine this is impacting other federal programs that have had their funding rerouted to John White’s general funding coffers.

Testing Fraud: One of the changes LDOE is planning to undertake is to have Kim Nesmith’s team (data collections) and Laura Boudreaux’s team (Data Analysis) report to Jessica Baghian who they recently moved over Accountability and Assessment. As some of you may have recently heard, these sections had some whistleblower(s) recently come forward and accuse John White of asking them to directly alter test scores to make RSD and charter schools look better and traditional public schools look worse. What you may not have known is that Jessica was moved down to make sure these sorts of “leaks” don’t happen again. Did you also know almost the entire Assessment team is employed and run by folks who are not US citizens and who are here on work Visas that are conditional they work for the Louisiana Department of Education? If they are terminated or quit, they have to return to their home countries. 2 weeks after the story broke two such employees did leave; one very suddenly and without warning. One employee returned to Canada. One went to China, without any notification or fanfare and came as a surprise to many in the department. This is an interesting development, no? I believe the feds may have lost their chance to discover how John White tried to falsify data to promote his agenda (but then again John White’s agenda seems to mirror that of President Barak Obama so maybe this was not an oversight on their part?)

Grant Manipulation Fraud: I verified this recent story (by Tom Aswell) about grant manipulation within the LDOE with some of my sources and it checked out.

The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) for at least three years manipulated qualification requirements for several New Orleans charter schools so that they would qualify for millions of dollars in federal grants, according to a former LDOE employee who now works for a parish school district and who asked that his name not be revealed.

The employee told LouisianaVoice that the practice started under former Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek and continued at least in John White’s first year as superintendent.

My sources listed grants by name that they were involved in (Obviously I cannot reveal those without tipping off who these employees were) that recently returned Paul Pastorek and John White (and their affiliates) overruled grant criteria and selected winners based on favoritism or for political reasons. Some grants were posted that the winners had already been selected, but the Department under both John White and Paul Pastorek made their staff go through the motions of reviewing grants and interviewing applicants so individual superintendents and legislators would not be upset when their districts and constituents did not receive these grants.

Voucher Fraud: Whether you agree in using vouchers to send public students to private schools or not, no one (except fraudsters) should approve of public funds being used or paid out fraudulently to private school operators. According to the last audit of how these funds are being handled, 97% of schools are mishandling their funds, with John White’s blessing.

We found that the while the Scholarship Program is expanding, LDOE does not have adequate criteria in place to determine if participating schools are academically acceptable and have the capacity needed to serve the number of Scholarship students they request. In addition, LDOE should develop internal procedures with more specific criteria for removing a participating school from the program based on academic performance. Specifically, we found the following:

Program Expansion and Implementation

• Student participation increased 269% (by 4,937 students) from academic year 2011-12 to 2013-14, while school participation increased 282% (by 93 schools) during the same time frame. Funding for the program increased from $8.9 million in fiscal year 2011-12 to a budget of $44.6 million in fiscal year 2013-14.

• State law requires public schools that participate in the Scholarship Program to have a letter grade of “A” or “B.” However, there are no legal requirements in place to ensure nonpublic schools that participate in the program are academically acceptable.

• LDOE’s review process lacks formal criteria to ensure that schools have both the academic and physical capacity to serve the number of Scholarship students they requested.

• During academic year 2012-13, the number of Scholarship students in participating schools ranged from one to 336. The enrollment percentages at participating schools ranged from 0.1% to 86.8%.

Program Accountability

• A Scholarship Cohort Index will be used to measure academic performance of participating schools. It will be calculated “substantially similar” to the school performance scores.

• Overall, the proficiency rating for schools participating in the Scholarship Program is 41%. This rating is based on the percent of students who scored basic and above on standardized tests during academic year 2012-13.

• The proficiency rating of the 33 schools that participated in the Scholarship Program for at least two years is 41.8%. LDOE restricted admission for new Scholarship students at seven (21%) of these 33 schools for academic year 2013-14 based on poor academic performance.

• LDOE has not set standards or measures in the accountability system for removing a participating school from the program for academic performance.

Program Cost and Funding

• Independent auditors found that LDOE overpaid or underpaid 48 (41%) of the 118 participating schools in academic year 2012-13.

• Independent auditors were unable to perform all procedures related to the use of funding for 115 (97%) of the 118 schools because these schools did not separately account for the Scholarship funds.

• The source of funding for the program changed from MFP to State General Fund because of a May 2013 ruling by the Louisiana Supreme Court.

In a perversely ironic move, John White removed one of the only schools that segregated their funds enough to be audited. Living New Word in Ruston Louisiana was not removed from the program for poor academic performance, for teaching kids on DVD’s, for not having certified teachers or for not even having a building to house the children they requested to “educate”. They were removed for charging the state too much based on the financial information they provided; that 97% of the other schools in the voucher program did not provide and were not chided or sanctioned for by the department. In response to the report that 97% of this voucher schools were unaccountable and that 1/3rd of the audited schools had to be shut down immediately for engaging in egregious mismanagement of state dollars, John White had this to say:

“These findings are evidence that the oversight process is working and that there will be zero tolerance for fiscal mismanagement of taxpayer dollars, said State Superintendent John White.”

The findings I am disclosing are evidence that the oversight process of John White and LDOE is not working and that currently there is a high tolerance on BESE and within Governor Jindal’s office for fiscal mismanagement of taxpayer dollars. I hope these disclosures lead to more oversight and investigations before John White leaves for greener pastures. With so much emphasis on district, school and teacher accountability, it would be nice if we finally held some of our education “leaders” accountable for their actions and inactions, and not simply reward them with a fat severance and pat on the head for a job so poorly done.

Education Reform: Building Houses of Sand in Swamps

Education Reform: Building Houses of Sand in Swamps

One of first sermons I heard when I was younger that really “sunk in”, came from the book of Matthew. The Sermon was based on Matthew 7:26 from a section known as the House on the Rock.

26“Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand

27“The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell– and great was its fall.”

Growing up it always seemed like I was seeing people build houses upon sand that would easily be washed away with the first serious flood; people making plans that would be ruined or abandoned at the first sign of trouble. If you think back I’m sure you will think of some situations where you took the quickest, easiest and most available path and found yourself regretting it. I think I ended up with quite a few skinned knees this way myself, both literally and figuratively.

As we grow older we learn to spot these sandy spots for what they are, and avoid them . . . sometimes. Those beaches are really attractive . . . all covered in sun and sand and begging to be built upon. We tell ourselves that this time will be different. We seduce ourselves into thinking we are better, than everyone who has tried to build a castle in the sand before us. In the end, our failure is almost as inevitable as the fact some people will always be waiting and willing to take those chances, those risks, telling ourselves we are the smartest guys in the room.

Enron was a castle in the sand. An empire built by people who thought they were the smartest, most able bodied and courageous people in the room. In the end, their castle collapsed and wiped out the lives of everyone who bought into their fantasy. You see, sometimes you can build such an elaborate and enormous castle, you can draw others in. . . This influx of searching souls often allows you to keep your own dreamy sand castle alive a little longer. But just like all pyramid schemes (or sand-castle schemes?) that are built on the backs of others efforts, they will eventually come crashing down, and the splash and harm is bigger and badder the longer and larger you go before the fall.

Louisiana’s Education Reform movement is Louisiana’s Sand Castle in the Swamp.

  • Common Core festoons the castle walls and flourishes in the gardens ringing the castle. They grew up quick and wild like weeds and are just a swiftly sinking back to the depths from whence it came. (We will need to be ready with the weed-killer next time.)
  • Charter schools and voucher schools make up the anterooms and hallways; empty space that make up most of the castle, filling up with gold and jewels brought by the children of the land.
  • VAM and COMPASS are the parapets, shining arrogantly for all to see the tempestuous failure of Education Reform, taunting the helpless serfs bound to the land by their dreams and ideals.


Supporters of Common Core and many of these other undemocratic takeovers will claim that they despite the problems, despite the fraudulent voucher, Course Choice providers, and virtual schools, and the abysmal performance of these schools and programs, they are still a great idea. Reformers will tell you that despite all the problems with charter schools selectively admitting and selectively excluding students, despite the shady way these schools are ripped away from the public and handed over to for profit entities for a little as a penny, despite the vast sums being made by CEOs and hedge fund managers to the detriment of the students they are supposed to be educating and despite the high failure rates of these schools, they still harbor great potential to transform public education. Reformers, corporations, and faux parent’s groups like Stand For Children will claim that despite the great false mythology built up around Common Core, despite the weak foundation that did not include educators, a foundation built on shaky Pearson prepared ground, that Common Core has great potential to fix. . . .everything. If you listen to these folks they will tell you Common Core will eliminate poverty, close the gap between races and all other subgroups and demographics, and educate our populace to where every country on the planet will be clamoring for our students to run their businesses.

Does that sound believable to you?

CCSS supporters will tell us this despite all the massive failings we’ve already seen with the Common Core design, implementation, and parental education that we’re just working out a few “kinks”. Common Core is a lie. Everything about it is a lie. The “rigor” that that makes it “challenging” for students is nothing more than terrible, confusing, mangled material. Making something more complicated and virtually indecipherable does make it harder and more frustrating, but it does not make it more valuable, useful or “rigorous” in a good way.

In addition to the absurd rigor claim almost every initial statement made by Common Core creators and supporters was false.

  • These were not internationally benchmarked standards. There are no international benchmarks, but that sure did sound good, right?
  • These standards were not state led. These are federal standards that Arne Duncan bribed and bullied states into adopting.
  • Educators were not involved in designing, building and reviewing these standards. (Note: Inviting one Math professor James Milgram and one Language arts and literature professor Sanrda Stotsky to review the standards and then ignoring all their input and the fact that they rejected the CCSS standards does not count.)
  • Common Core will not ensure students are STEM ready by excluding Calculus. (Believe me, I did not take Calculus in High School and dropped out of my Chemical Engineering track. Working knowledge of Calculus was required for numerous engineering classes.)
  • Most of the high profile “supporters” of Common Core have been bribed, coerced and fluffed into promoting them or stand to profit from them directly. For instance, Stand for Children in Louisiana is headed by Rayne Martin, a highly compensated reformer, brought o Louisiana by Paul Vallas (a master-fleecer of public funds and trust), heading an organization that receives much of its funding from Bill Gates, the creator and backer of Common Core. Conveniently, Martin has no children so she also doesn’t have to deal with the absurd homework assignments and tantrums, but she has been dressing much snazzier since leaving her 6 figure job at LDOE to run Stand For Children in Louisiana. Common Core pays well for its supporters, while it destroys people that actually have to deal with it.

As we go forward into this legislative session debating the pros and cons of Common Core, I want to you remember that castle in the sand. Common Core and much of the corporate led reform movement, is composed of sandcastles build on disappearing sand banks. Maybe we can build enough castles in the sand and one will finally stand, but if we experiment on our children year after year on these failed policies and curriculum we are not “standing” for them, we are sacrificing them for corporate profits and reformer egos who are only standing for themselves.

And with that, I leave you with this strangely relevant YouTube Monty Python clip.


For those who missed the live WBOK show on 8/26/13: here is the link and summary

For those who missed the live WBOK show on 8/26/13: here is the link and summary

Summary and links to articles you might find relevant to topics discussed.

Once you load the Imperative page you will have to click on the circled portion to listen to the audio portion from the 8/26/13 show.

http://theneworleansimperative.org/2013/03/07/the-new-orleans-imperative-next-show-march-11-2013/ <======

The pieces are all starting to come together. . .and the picture ain’t good

The pieces are all starting to come together. . .and the picture ain’t good

Thanks to Lefty, Dave Lefkowith, John White’s data scam is starting to take on a clearer shape. I just got another document from good ole Lefty from another new vendor called Cambium Education and Sopris Learning. It appears John White is planning to provide all of our student data to yet another inBloom-like vendor for DIBLELS data. This one will host quite a bit of data bases on reports they plan to make available to us in the RFP sent to Lefty on April 5th. I will include the intro letter as well as the names and descriptions of some of the reports this vendor is offering to produce for us, which would require quite a bit of our children’s data to produce.



I thought I recognized the name Vivian Fox, the signatory on the RFP proposal, and went back through the hundreds of pages of sideways and upside down scanned image files DOE supplied us in response to a FOIA request. (Technically they filled the request, but searching for terms on an image file is impossible and any viewing program you use has to constantly be reoriented to compensate for the “accidentally” erroneously scanned images.)

Well as I was looking through it something I’d seen before but never quite registered caught my eye. This update by Ken Bradford, White’s newly created Assistant Superintendent of Content, sent to John White on January 2nd, 2013.  (I think everyone White doesn’t name a fellow is some form of Superintendent.  I hear Lefty is sporting one of those titles on some of his business cards.)

According to this document there are over 1800 individual college level (Board of Regents) offerings and over 1200 technical course offerings, which did not exist last year.

Let that sink in.  How on earth could anyone validate 3000 new courses in less than a year? How could anyone hope to adequately review the credentials of the vendors providing them or hope to monitor them in any fashion whatsoever?  Is it any wonder we already have allegations of fraudulent enrollments?

John White claims there is a “rigorous approval process.”  According to this internal e-mail the process involved typing the names of 3000 courses from .pdf documents into an Agilix database, and then comparing those results to an Excel spreadsheet.  Sounds pretty rigorous to me!  I wonder just how many people and hours went into reviewing all these providers and course offerings?  Did DOE officials meet all of them in person, any of them?  Of course there is that “final rinse” they run by John White.  I’m sure John White will take any responsiblity for any problematic vendors and classes that get by his personally attended rigorous approval process. . .

Now back to this e-mail: According to this e-mail as of January 2nd DOE had over 23 MOU’s signed for just Course Choice vendors!

We’ve heard before from John White that vendors/partners will have no access to student data? John White has not been able to produce a single MOU for inBloom, for which by some accounts he provided all of our data. These vendors, which could number in the hundreds, if not thousands, would have no need of an MOU if they were not using student data, would they? If the data was just used for registration purposes and safely locked up in our data garage why the 23 plus hundreds of additional potential MOUs? So many MOUs that they had to define a process to collect and update their vendor files with them all as a daily task way back in January!

John White may have emptied out the inBloom database, but that was just a sacrificial lamb. Course Choice is inBloom multiplied one hundred fold and it is already being used and abused by these vendors. John White and Chas Roemer assured us our children’s data was safe, but they lied. In the end their subterfuge may prove to be right about one thing though. . .

If you provide private data to everyone, and everyone has access to it, well then it’s hard to claim that it’s private anymore. Isn’t it?

Problem solved.

I wish I had something witty to say about this, but I’m sincerely stunned by the magnitude and sheer audacity of these two and the problems we are already beginning to see. It’s time for some resignations and/or criminal investigations.  Why are we even allowing a program that has no defined funding and has been ruled unconstitutional over and over, even by a 6-1 decision in our Supreme Court, to continue?  I’m not paying for it, John White and Chas Roemer haven’t offered to pay for them.

Pull the plug on vouchers and Course Choice now.

Don’t let Chas run the same excuse he made for voucher students, that Louisiana has a moral responsiblity to fund them.

Roemer said the money is due sometime in May and that the state has a moral and legal obligation to pay.

Our elected officials have a moral responsiblity to pass laws that are Constitutional, and when they don’t they should have the decency to fire themselves since they aren’t the ones that will have to pay for their incompetence, we are.  Do the moral thing Chas. . .  White.  Fire yourselves.  You owe it to all those students and parents you mislead and all the taxpayers you shafted with your ignorance and arrogance.

If you wanted our input, the public, we would have told you “no.”  That’s why you didn’t ask with a Constitutional Amendment.  Now we are telling you “it’s time to go.”  You would be wise not to ignore us twice.


Louisiana Believes in Completely Denying Reality

Louisiana Believes in Completely Denying Reality


May 07, 2013

BATON ROUGE, La. – State Superintendent of Education John White issued a statement today concerning the Louisiana Supreme Court ruling on Act 2:

“On the most important aspect of the law, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of families. The Scholarship Program will continue, and thousands of Louisiana families will continue to have the final say in where to send their children to school. Nearly 93 percent of Scholarship families report that they love their school, and we will work with the Legislature to find another funding source to keep parents and kids in these schools.”

While those of you who are still able to read (after my concerted effort to systematically destroy Louisiana’s education system by replacing certified teachers with “certified chipmunks” and Japanese “dolls” we purchased with an E-rate technology grant for our international bachelorette program) might infer from the passage below that the State Supreme Court did not rule in my favor, just because they explicitly and repeatedly state they are “not deciding on the merits of the challenged programs,”

As noted earlier, the discretion of BESE and the legislature is vast. However, we hasten to reiterate, we are not deciding the merits of the challenged programs. It is only at the stage in which BESE has invoked the MFP process for funding these programs and the legislature has nominally given its approval that this court is concerned. Pursuant to Article VIII | 13(B), whatever discretion existed prior to the funds being dedicated to MFP is no more; the state funds approved through th unique MFP process cannot be diverted to nonpublic schools or other nonpublic course providers according to the clear, specific, and unambiguous language of the constitution. Link – refer to page 33 of 66

I have nevertheless chosen to ignore those “word” things you limited box-thinking people rely upon. I use my imagination, my gut, and my feelings to define my reality, and my guts feel like I won! I am John White and your weak-ass Louisiana laws do not apply to me. To date I’ve never had to follow a single one of them and I can lie to everyone I meet, about everything, and still retain the full confidence of the BESE board purchased by out-of-state special interests and those annointed by Der Jindal, who likes to refer to me as his little “mini-me.” (I know what you’re thinking, little and mini are a bit redundant but I learned long ago not to argue with the “big BJ” – my super-secret name for Bobby Jindal.)

And I just want the three (3) Louisiana citizens that still support me (because they are in comas and unable to deny they still support me) to know rather than admit defeat, in the face of “reiterated” and virtually unanimous (6-1) and “unambiguous” defeat that I shall instead declare a victory! I have even quoted more unrelated statistics like 93% that make no sense in the current context because everyone knows high percentages and exclamations points are good! This is the same way I manipulate you by simply raising SPS scores to show I am better! Bigger is better and context is irrelevant: Broad Superintendent Institute prayer. (The Broad Institute is like a Course Choice program, but only 5 weekends, no tests, and requires 3 cereal box tops for a genuine Superintendent Certification good for any state that doesn’t believe their superintendent requires any actual qualifications.)

And just so you know, I will never give up on myself and MY agenda. I have terminated virtually all Louisiana classified workers and citizens and replaced them with expensive out-of-state “talent” as part of the “repay TFA” clause of my contract I created and signed for myself. (BESE president, and Garnier spokesperson, Chas Roemer gave me a stamp with his name on it for me to approve everything I do.) Now that BESE is a mere formality and everyone at DOE owes allegiance to me, rather than Louisiana, they will act in “MY” self-interest. Exclusively.

The first task I set my “fellows” (a name I give TFA kids I can’t find anything specific for them to do but still want to pay 65 – 90 thousand dollars a year) is to find a new “court” in which to get my agenda approved. Top potential “Court Choice providers”, as we’re calling them, are The Hague, the basketball court I had installed for with Special Education dollars in the offices formerly occupied by “theoretically required” federally funded Special Education personnel, and the Court of Public Opinion (which is what I call my secret potty place.) It appears Louisiana Supreme court justices are going to be a stickler for their real Constitution, rather than the toilet paper scrawled version Jindal and I made in our secret thinking place (yup, the potty) that I tried to substitute in its place.

Our first thought was to appeal to the US Supreme Court of course; to plead Louisianian’s are too stupid to have been entrusted with writing their own constitution, and that the Federal government should intervene and tell us what to do. I mean, that thing is like a hundred years old or something. Everyone knows old things are bad, which is why I fire anyone over 30 and replace them with Brownies and Tiger Cubs whenever possible.

It’s time to repeal and replace, or perhaps just repeal? Without a state Constitution Bobby Jindal would finally be unable to propose an unconstitutional law. Now wouldn’t that be something? Of course that would ruin his perfect record. . .at failure. Who says big BJ ain’t ready for DC?

Like the mysterious phoenix, I rise from the ashes of my defeat. . .so many ashes. . .
Like the mysterious phoenix, I rise from the ashes of my defeat. . .so. . . many. . . ashes. . .

Bobby Jindal Cooks MFP Funding Formula to Kill-Off GT Programs

Bobby Jindal Cooks MFP Funding Formula to Kill-Off GT Programs

I was going to title this “John White. . . ” etc., but let’s get real. John White is just an unqualified bobble-headed sock puppet (politicians have them made in places like the Broad Academy) that Jindal sticks his hand in whenever he wants to fluff up his conservative bona fides for his out of state conservative audience and donors. We’ve all seen firsthand what happens when any of Jindal’s puppets stutter anything out of line (it’s been termed Teaguing: where they are given their walking papers the next day, regardless of whether the firing is legal or not.) So let’s dispense with the coy game of cat and mouse he is playing with us through his political teat suckling pig puppets. This tyrannical governing style, meted out as often on his “conservative allies” like Senator David Vitter (who he recently scored political points with liberal DC insiders by making a funny about the Senator’s prostitution scandal) is probably one of the main reasons his popularity is hovering in the low thirties in a state that voted for Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney just a few months ago at a rate roughly equal double to Jindal’s current popularity numbers.

So now that we have that resolved, let us continue. Jindal has proposed changing the way Special Education is funded, though his John White schlep doll.

He is doing this using some tried and true methods.

  • First they redefined the MFP funding formula into a 26 page monstrosity behind closed doors so the public wouldn’t understand the real reason for the changes nor understand their implications until too late.
  • Second they got Jindal’s handpicked BESE members to agree to the changes off the record, and they even postdated the document by over a week, knowing they can ignore open meetings laws with impunity. The press doesn’t call them on it, and the Attorney General actually defends their illegal actions in court on the taxpayer’s dime.
  • Third, they termed this program a “pilot” like they did with the Voucher program that started off in New Orleans for a few handfuls of students in the lowest performing schools in the state, which has been expanded to all students in all schools rated C or below (which is more than half of them so it’s not based on an average for those of you keeping up.)
  • And finally, they are trying to lull you into a false sense of security by telling the “money was just moved” and in some cases overall per pupil funding will go up.

So why would they do this? Well this is part of team Jindal’s overall plan to “repurpose” money dedicated to SPED students, disabled and Gifted and Talented, to the general education fund. This is what legislators try to do by moving “dedicated funds” like those dedicated for coastal restoration, healthcare, and education to the general fund – so those dollars can offset other revenue, and that other revenue can go to pet projects, special tax breaks for campaign donors, etc.

In this particular case this serves the added bonus of padding the per pupil amount that will be used to calculate voucher student reimbursement, and charter school funding. The Louisiana department of Education picked St Tammany as an example of a district that would not be adversely impacted by this calculation, and even went so far as to estimate that their per pupil reimbursement would be about 18 dollars more per student under this “pilot” of the formula. St Tammany doesn’t have any charter schools or voucher schools. . . yet. You didn’t see a calculation for East Baton Rouge, did you? All of the data needed to make the estimated calculations is readily available, but you don’t see the department producing estimates for anyone but one of the lone parishes that would temporarily get a slight increase, at the expense of everyone else.

This might seem a like a good deal, if you live in St Tammany, if you don’t mind selling out disabled, GT, and talented student for 18 dollars.

There are a couple of points you might want to consider before you think this is a good deal.

  • The testing requirements for “talented” students are inappropriate. These are students that might have musical or artistic gifts that would usually not translate to a high score on an AP (advanced Placement) math test. So it’s probably best if you simply accept “Talented” as a student classification is going away, as is most of the funding and programming for these students.
  • St Tammany can;t hold out the voucher and charter schools forever, and the virtual schools and course choice providers can paoch their students with impunity now.
  • Gifted as a program or classification is essentially eliminated in favor of testing students for passing AP exams as the department no longer distinguishes between students getting high grades on AP exams and gifted students. While it’s hard to argue that it is a laudable goal to try to encourage more students to tackle AP coursework, and earn college credit (especially since our state first time college freshman remediation rate (the percent of students requiring remedial coursework before taking their college coursework) has been increasing over the past 4 years, (probably around the time LDE adopted the career diplomas that required fewer hours of English, Math and Science but still allowed student to apply to colleges and universities) the proper way to do that would be with dedicated funding for that goal. Rather than properly fund an initiative that would enable all students to take advanced coursework, Jindal and White have stripped the funding from GT for this purpose (or “repurposed” it in politician-speak.)
  • The new MFP funding formula more evenly spreads out Special education funding for disabled and gifted students will be distributed more evenly to all students, thus not altering the overall funding to be sure. However it will be from this communal pot of money that vouchers and charter schools pull their average pupil allocation. Charter and Voucher schools  Always, Always, Always shy away from the hardest students to educate. Parents actually have to sign away their IDEA rights if they choose to enroll a disabled student in a voucher school, and I can’t tell you how many lawsuits by parents DOE has already had over charter schools in Orleans refusing to provide services or enroll disabled students. (In part because this is a closely guarded secret, partly because of gag orders but I had to prepare plenty of reports showing how most charters enroll very few disabled students, and none of the severely disabled students which cost the most to educate.)
  • This is the tried and true boiled frog approach used for vouchers so successfully in New Orleans after Katrina (and a version of the bait and switch Stelly tax that lowered taxes on in exchange for raising them elsewhere. . . and then the offsetting tax was repealed creating an entirely avoidable perpetual state deficit crisis. ) The premise of this theory goes something like this: If you try to put a frog directly into a boiling pot, it will sense the heat and jump to safety. If you put the frog in a pot of cool water and just gradually raise the temperature, the cold-blooded amphibian will simply change his temperature to match the surrounding water temp without noticing the danger he is in. . .

We’ve seen what this governor has done to frogs before . . . how many of our tadpoles do we have to see cooked before our eyes before we say enough?

boil-the-frog - jindal

So me and Diane Ravitch were chillin’ today in Baton Rouge discussing some education stuff. . . .

So me and Diane Ravitch were chillin’ today in Baton Rouge discussing some education stuff. . . .

So me and Diane Ravitch we chillin’ today in Baton Rouge discussing some education stuff. . . .  :)

I figured I’d start off my post that way since it sounds much cooler than Diane came to town and gave an awesome speech at a luncheon (and Chas Roemer was also there as the comic relief) and I was fawning over her like an obsessed anti-reform education groupie (do they have those?) But I digress.

Diane made a very excellent speech summarizing all the ways Louisiana’s education system is dead set and hell-bent on a road to ruin. The counterpoint or rebuttal was made by current BESE (the state board of education) President Chas Roemer. I would like to to say that Chas’s points were simply less eloquent and and passably adequate, but they were actually pretty insulting for most parents – about 98% of them to be exact.  I had every intention of listening politely, until he responded to a question about the low voucher (private school) participation percentage this way.

“Rather than question why the participation in the voucher program is only 2%, I would question why only 2% of parents care about their student’s educations.”

This of course was after making much ado about providing “choice” to parents, but I think it reveals his true feelings. If you don’t send your kids to a creationist teaching, revisionist history teaching, private school, then you are a bad parent and don’t care about your children. Until this point I was simply happy to be at the Drusilla Seafood gathering, where they served chicken. (It was decent chicken, but really, if you invite people from out of state to a restaurant with “seafood” in the name you’d think there would be some?) Chas Roemer concluded his speech by describing something he said he likes to call his “money back guarantee.”

“If charters don’t perform well, they get shut down.” – ( and new charters perpetually open in their place (until one succeeds I presume?)

Some folks at my table shouted out, “when do we get our money back?”

When indeed? I suppose this is the “exceptionalism” that one can expect from someone who is a product of the private school system, like Chas.

Suffice it to say I was not about to let these statements go without redress, but alas, the person right in front of me, the esteemed professor and researcher Barbara Ferguson, was the last to get a volley off, and I was left with my question unasked.

Whenever I see her from now on I will say “Ferguson!” under my breath as an homage to Jerry Seinfeld and his arch nemesis Newman.

So I present to you my readers, my question(s).

Maybe one of you can forward it to Chas to see if he has a response?

Hi. My name is [redacted], and unlike Chas, I was not surrounded by politics and career politicians my whole life. I am a parent of public school students in Baton Rouge that attend [redacted] Elementary. My wife is on her second year of PTA president for the [redacted] Ducks, and we volunteer for many of the school functions and field trips as chaperones. For years I’ve volunteered as a mentor to work with children through the Big Buddy program in Baton Rouge. I am a product of the Baton Rouge Public school system and my wife was a teacher in this schools system for several years.

I would like to first say that as a parent I am deeply offended by the comment Chas made in response to the low participation rate in the voucher school program “he wonders why only the 2% of parents that applied for private school vouchers care about the education of their students.” I want my kids to go to public schools because I care about them, and because I don’t want them artificially sheltered from their peers in racial and social class silos like Chas’s kids. That is a choice he has made, but by defunding and overburdening public schools Chas is eliminating “my choice,” to have my kids attend a vibrant, robust, communal public education system.

Chas’s statements reveal his true feelings, he doesn’t believe public schools are a valid “choice” and so he is trying to eliminate them so I am forced into conforming to his choice. Reform is about convincing you that you made the wrong choices and guilting you into choosing something else that is unproven and often worse.

Chas, charter schools and voucher/private schools are not subject to the same oversight and reporting that public schools are. You claim your objective is to offer parents choices, but how can parents reasonably be expected to make informed choices when you don’t report the same statistics for them as you do for the public schools you denigrate? The department website was recently revamped to remove most historical data and the department routinely refuses to provide data – to researchers it deems unfriendly. I know this because I am a witness in a case against the Louisiana department of education involving the sharing of basic student data to a researcher in Orleans. That data already exists and has been given to other “friendly” researchers! I know this for a fact, because I am a former Louisiana Department of Education employee and I worked in the data management department and I actually prepared the data being requested – but for other groups!

We were instructed by John White and Erin Bendilly (a Jindal appointee assigned to ram through the charters at LDOE) to leave charters alone when their data was incomplete or obviously wrong, and many reporting requirements were not “requirements” for charter operators and virtual schools (like attendance). Schools in New Orleans that are “taken over” by the state are not assigned SPS (School Performance Scores) for 2 years after they are handed off to another operator.

How can parents make informed, real “choices” without data? Charter schools are like random TV dinners, but without any nutritional information. Could you plan a nutritional healthy family meal without any information on calories, preservatives, vitamins and minerals or sodium content? How would you choose between all the offerings: based on the look of the package, the taste? That is what charter schools and voucher schools are, unlabeled, mislabeled, or attractively labeled TV dinners that you expect us to feed our family for 2 years and “Believe” that they are good. Sure, we might be able to figure out after a while what is offered is crap, after our kids start getting fat or having heart attacks, but is that a fair choice to make, or to force us, as parents, to make? The free market has shown that Doritos and donuts are more popular that bananas and yogurt, but that doesn’t make them better, and providing those choices does nothing for our children but put them at risk for obesity and diabetes. Charter schools and voucher schools are the junk food of the education system, but without the proper labeling.

Fresh charter school choices, just heat, Believe and serve!
Fresh charter school choices, just heat, Believe and serve!

If you truly believe that charter schools and voucher schools are “better” choices, and not just additional ones, why does BESE and John White not encourage proper reporting of data and free access of data to researchers that request it? Surely if we are concerned about parents and students making informed choices, this is common sense?

As a parent, I find it hard to believe even you and your political sponsors believe this is about students and parents when you fight proper and timely disclosure of data that could be used to properly evaluate these “choices” and misrepresent failure (like the perpetual closing and rebranding of charter schools) as success.

And by the way, how much money has the state gotten back on your “Money Back Guarantee” for failed charters? When people sell you a shoddy product and they get to keep the money and walk away and open up shop somehwere else, that is not a money back guarantee, that is just a robbery (to which you are an accessory), and sadly only half the story.  How have you reclaimed the lost educational years for the students you allowed to be experimented on, only to find the experiment was a failure?