Archives for category: Louisiana

Mercedes Schneider, high school teacher, debates Common Core with a state representative and a representative of the pro-voucher group Black Alliance for Educational Options. Mercedes explains who BAEO is, then engages in 6 minutes of debate in which the two men were pro-Common Core and Mercedes was critical. Does 2 vs. 1 sound unbalanced? At least there was some disagreement. A few days ago, there was a well-publicized forum on Common Core that included Merryl Tisch, chair of the Board of Regents; John King, state commissioner; Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers; Carmen Farina, Chancellor of the New York City public schools; and one or two others. Every member of the panel supported Common Core. Some debate.

Veteran educator Michael Deshotels filed a public records request last June to find out how the state tests were scored. The state claimed that the tests were harder but the scores held steady. Deshotels got the records and concluded that the state had manipulated the scoring of the tests.

He writes:

“It turns out that the number of correct answers required for a passing score (or a level of basic) was significantly reduced for three out of four categories of the LEAP high stakes testing. Once one knows how the passing scores are routinely manipulated it’s no surprise that the percentage of students scoring basic or above remained steady. The test grading scale for LEAP was adjusted or “equated” (to use the lingo of testing experts), apparently to make certain that the perceived performance of students on the new Common Core aligned tests remained steady.”

Crazy Crawfish (aka Jason France, who was a data analyst for the Louisiana Department of Education) wrote a post about the same scores called “Standardized Lying.”

He writes:

“Student performance in Louisiana is dropping rapidly. The decline started just about the time John White became superintendent of Education and has accelerated rapidly with the introduction of Common Core in Louisiana schools. Based on a sample analysis of the very meager data LDOE finally released under threat of lawsuit it is clear that not only is student performance not increasing or staying steady, it Is in fact declining, and being masked by a lowering of the number of correct answers required to pass LEAP and iLEAP tests….

“I don’t have magical powers, but I can confidently predict this is something you will find and see happening across the nation, especially in education Reformer infested territories. There is nothing standardized about the testing of Common Core, the only standardization comes in in the form of lying about it.

“Proponents of Common Core, and the High Stakes testing required by it, have claimed the comparability of test scores across states will make for meaningful comparisons. To have this meaningful comparison, all states must teach the same curriculum and all must administer identical tests from one of the two federally funded consortiums (Smarter Balanced and PARCC). However neither consortium controls the cut scores; those are entirely in the control of the states. These scores can go up or down as local politics require.

“Let me spell this out for you. If you want to show progress in your state you can artificially inflate the scores to show improvement. If you need to make a case for more charter schools and school closures simply lower the scores and take them over and then raise the score back to show that reform worked. That is exactly what Louisiana has done and no doubt other reform markets as well. The actual data shows the Reforms, including Common Core, have had the exact opposite effect, and a very dramatic one.
Even though the proposed tests are identical, even though the curriculum is identical, the actual scores and their meanings are left up to individual states to determine. That fact nullifies the argument for identical standardized tests and even the need for a standardized curriculum. Our scores, our levels of achievement, will not be and are not comparable to scores in other states. These tests are actually the opposite of comparable. NAEP and DEIBELS are national tests that are comparable, and neither of them requires a standardized curriculum nor extensive, expensive, technology intensive, obsessive testing, like Common Core does.”

Crazy Crawfish (aka Jason France, who was a data analyst at the Louisiana Department of Education) offers a fascinating insight into the political machinations behind Governor Bobby Jindal’s effort to ditch the Common Core.

Jindal was an enthusiastic supporter of CC until last June, when he suddenly became an opponent. The state commissioner of education, John White, a steadfast ally of Jindal, announced that he would fight the governor. The state board of education joined White, including two of Jindal’s appointees.

In Louisiana, Jindal is known as a governor who does not tolerate disloyalty. He swiftly punishes dissidents in his ranks. Yet no one of Jindal’s former allies faced retribution for opposing him. Something smelled fishy.

Then came the trial of Jindal vs. White on the Common Core, and Jindal’s lawyer didn’t call any witnesses. Jason France thinks he threw the fight. He thinks the fix is in. Jindal doesn’t want to get rid of the Common Core, he wants to appear to be trying because Common Core is a liability among the conservative voters that Jindal needs for his presidential aspirations.

France concludes:

“The chaos we are experiencing was intentionally fomented by John White, Chas Roemer and Bobby Jindal to distract people and wear them out. This betrayal was planned.

“Sadly, this is just another ruse perpetrated by those in power to avoid listening to parents’ real problems, and another reason parents are right to fear and fight Common Core. I expect this distraction to last until Jindal leaves office. John White and Chas Roemer were correct when they stated Jindal’s opposition to Common Core was politically motivated. The irony is that they were quite likely complicit in the deception from the get-go; to increase all of their profiles. That ploy has worked. Now we get to decide if their profiles are ultimately positively or negatively impacted by this fiasco.”

A Louisiana judge ruled against Governor Jindal in his efforts to dump Common Core and PARCC.

Mercedes Schneider read the court decision and concludes that Jindal lost in court against proponents of Common Core because his lawyer didn’t make a good case. She says he better get a better legal team or be prepared to lose again.

It is hard to remember who is suing whom in Louisiana. Fortunately we have Mercedes Schneider to keep us updated on the three different lawsuits, each of which is pursuing a different issue related to the Common Core and the PARCC tests.

Try to remember this: as a high school teacher, Schneider is no fan of Common Core and PARCC. She is also no fan of Jindal or White. Jindal used to be a fan of Common Core a and White, but a few months ago, he decided to withdraw Louisiana from the Common Core. State Commissioner John White and the state board–most of whom were Jindal allies–are loyal to the Common Core and the tests.

Now with all that context, read the post.

Blogger Crazy Crawfish (aka Jason France) writes that the Recovery School District is a failure. Residents of New Orleans were promised that the RSD would improve schools and return them to their home parishes. It has not returned a single school. Why weren’t the reformers honest at the outset, he wonders? Why didn’t they say that their goal was to privatize the district, get rid of the union and experienced teachers, and turn every school into a charter?

He writes:

“If your state is considering something like the RSD, tell them no. You tell them it was a complete failure in Louisiana and RSD got out of the business of being RSD in New Orleans. At least make them admit their real goal is to close all public schools and open them as charter schools. Make them tell you what their real plan is, but don’t let them tell you that the RSD plan is a template for anything but failure. If I had to give RSD a letter grade, like the state gives all schools and districts in the state, I would give them an F. But I can’t. They are so bad, they don’t even exist. The RSD was a lie and charter schools were the switch. And just like the result of most bait and switch tactics, charter schools are more expensive, they aren’t what we needed or signed up for and probably won’t last very long before we need to replace them with something else even more expensive – but the salesmen are pretty happy.”

The Iberville Parish school board decided to sue the state when it learned of the state’s plan to divert a sizable portion of the district’s basic funding to a new, for-profit charter school.

“The Iberville Parish School Board decided Monday it would fight to retain more than $3.8 million in state funding by suing the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“The school district is seeking an injunction to stop BESE from funneling the state Minimum Foundation Program funding to a new charter school, which opened on Monday, until the matter can be heard in court.

“The board made the decision during its regular meeting Monday night at the recommendation of Superintendent Ed Cancienne, who previously called the opening of the Iberville Charter Academy “an intrusion on the school district’s rights and tax money.”

“Chief Financial Officer Jolain Landry said the Iberville Parish School System was set to receive more than $15.8 million in funding from the state’s Department of Education for the 2014-15 school year. But the district received notice over the summer that approximately $3.8 million of the money was instead being allocated to the Iberville Charter Academy, she said.”

Members of the local board were outraged by the raid on their Minimum Foundation Funding and suggested that it was inspired by campaign contributions:

““This parish shouldn’t have to suffer; to take our local dollars to support a private business and make a profit off of our kids in this parish, it’s not right,” board member Brian Willis said before voting Monday.

“Board member Nancy Broussard chided the Education Department for allowing the charter school to receive MFP funding based on enrollment projections instead of actual student counts. She also berated the department for giving charter schools more lax accountability standards compared to public schools.

“Board member Tom Delahaye called charter schools a hoax and theorized the state’s push to welcome charter schools into local districts was being driven by campaign contributions.

“Delahaye presented to the board a print-out from the state’s Ethics Administration Program website showing itemized campaign contributions from Charter Schools USA, the company managing the Iberville Charter Academy, to BESE members and Gov. Bobby Jindal.

“Charter Schools USA has given right at $25,000 in campaign contributions in the past three years,” he said. “This for-profit organization is giving them money to buy influence to set up a school in our parish and take advantage of our children — that’s what’s happening here.”

The Parish board voted 12-2 to sue the state. One of the two dissenters said she was not opposed to the suit but wanted other local boards to share the cost of litigation.

Mercedes Schneider checks out the origins and development of Campbell Brown, who is now threatening to take Michelle Rhee’s place as the leader of the anti-union, anti-teacher campaign. Mercedes hails from Louisiana, and so did Campbell. Campbell came from a very poor town called Ferriday. But she wasn’t poor. Her father served in the State Senate and as Secretary of State. She didn’t go to public schools. She went to some fine private schools. Off to college, then she marries Dan Senor, and take a look at her beautiful Vera Wang wedding dress. Let’s say it. She’s pretty. She’s privileged. She has had a very good life indeed. But it really troubles her that teachers are protected against vindictive principals or students who make false accusations or parents who object to the books they teach. This is intolerable to Campbell Brown. She is special. To her, teachers are not.

Well, I gave you an update on the latest episode in the Louisiana battle over Common Core. But of course I don’t know as much as Mercedes Schneider, who teaches in the state and stays abreast of the latest news and gossip.

So here is the scoop, from the inside.

Who will sue whom?

What tests will be used?

Will the governor beat the superintendent that he once loved and the board he appointed?

Advocates of the Common Core standards have promoted the myth that only the agitated and uninformed extremists oppose the standards. But this is not true. Michael Deshotels is a respected veteran educator in Louisiana who explains here why he opposes the Common Core and the related high-stakes testing.

This is the heart of his dissent:

“Many educators who have carefully studied the Common Core Standards believe they are not practical for most classrooms, and are not age appropriate for most of our younger students. The standards may actually cause many children to fear school because they will be frustrated by some of the poor teaching practices required to teach the Common Core.

“Many of the math methods required by these standards are impractical. They are simply theories of teaching math that are not useful to most students.

“The types of reading and writing required by the Common Core are often boring to students and do not accomplish practical results. Young children are required to use a technique called “close reading” which includes detailed dissection of reading passages. These required readings may actually discourage the love of reading that is needed for most students to become excellent readers.

“Finally, the Common Core, even though it is claimed to be a system that will prepare students for college and careers, will do neither, compared to other alternatives. The standards are particularly not practical for students who wish to pursue technical or skilled careers.”

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