Archives for category: Louisiana

Eli Broad has recruited Paul Pastorek, former state superintendent in Louisiana, to lead his effort to privatize the schools of 50% of the children now in public schools in Los Angeles.

Pastorek oversaw the elimination of public education in Néw Orleans. He was also a member of Jeb Bush’s far-right “Chiefs for Change,” a group dedicated to high-stakes testing and privatization.

In his new post, he will press for the elimination of many public schools.

“Few issues have roiled the LA Unified community more than the foundation’s plan to expand the number of charter schools in the district. An early report by the foundation said the goal is to serve as many as half the students in the district in 230 newly-created charter schools within the next eight years, an effort that would cost nearly half a billion dollars.

“It’s also a plan that district officials have said would eviscerate public education as it is now delivered by LA Unified. The LA teachers union, UTLA, has also attacked the plan as part of the Broads’ latest effort to “privatize” public education at the cost of union teaching jobs.”

The Network for Public Education Action Fund endorses Lee Barrios for the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. In the last election to this board, out-of-state billionaires captured the board for privatization measures. Help Lee (and our other candidates) restore the Board as the guardian of public education.

She is a champion for children and public schools.

Barrios retired from teaching in 2010 and became a full-time advocate, working to protect public education in her home state. Barrios has a long list of qualifications for a seat on BESE. She is a retired National Board Certified Teacher with a Masters Degree in Secondary Education; a founding member of the Coalition for Louisiana Public Education, which represents classroom teachers; the Information Coordinator for Save Our Schools – LA; and she was a founding member of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, which worked to expose inBloom around the country.

Her opponent is James Garvey, who is running for his third term on BESE. He is a part of the board majority that supports charter schools, high stakes testing, vouchers, Common Core, VAM, and controversial Louisiana state superintendent John White. Garvey has well over $200,000 in his campaign coffers. Garvey entered the race with almost $160,000 left over from his previous campaign, and another $40,000 has been donated to his current campaign by four Political Action Committees (PACs) formed by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.

Barrios is well aware that she is up against powerful, moneyed interests, and has a clear sense of how dangerous market-based education reform is to the cause of public education.

Please help elect Lee Barrios to this important post.

The NPE Political Action Fund endorses Dr. Lottie Beebe for election to the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Zealots for privatization captured the Board at the last election. Help supporters of public education restore the Board as the protector of the state’s public schools.

The Network for Public Education enthusiastically encourages voters in Louisiana’s District 3 to return incumbent Dr. Lottie Beebe to her seat on the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE).

Louisiana author, teacher, researcher and blogger Mercedes Schneider agrees, stating, “She has consistently stood against the privatizing BESE majority. Be sure to re-elect her.”

Dr. Beebe has worked in and around education for 32 years. She has been an elementary and special education teacher, assistant principal, principal, supervisor, director, and currently serves as the superintendent of the St. Martin Parish Schools.

Back in 2012, Dr. Beebe demonstrated courage and bravery when she spoke out against the state spending nearly $1 million on ill trained Teach For America recruits. Lottie Beebe believes in public education; she believes that children should have well-prepared professional teachers.

Fast forward to 2015, and Dr. Beebe has a clear understanding of the teacher shortage states across the nation are now facing. She has vowed that she “will make every effort to address teacher attrition concerns in Louisiana.” Dr. Beebe continued that, “without quality teachers in the classroom, we can’t expect improvements in student outcomes. The education profession has been vilified and I hope to change the negative public perception of those who go above and beyond the call of duty”

Dr. Beebe has stated that during her term on BESE, Louisiana has been in a state of “educational chaos.” She attributes this chaos to a lack of leadership.

The next BESE board will evaluate the contract of current Louisiana State Superintendent, the controversial reformer John White. When White was hired, Dr. Beebe fought for a fair and transparent hiring process. Instead, the BESE majority hired White, who did not meet state requirements for the position. Dr. Beebe will continue to fight for a state superintendent who is a true educational leader.

Louisiana educator Bridget Bergeron said Dr. Beebe, “speaks out loudly and with conviction against the faux reforms and hidden agendas led by the state superintendent and fellow board members. She has proven that she has what it takes to move us forward in improving outcomes for our public school children in Louisiana.”

Dr. Beebe’s work on BESE must continue, but she is facing a well-financed reform candidate who is a self-described “fierce advocate for school choice.” It has recently been reported that hundreds of thousands of dollars, including money from the Waltons and Eli Broad, have been flowing into Louisiana PACs in order to keep the current reform majority and Superintendent White in place for another four years.

We all must do what we can to keep Dr. Beebe’s courageous voice on BESE. Please spread the word about Dr. Beebe’s campaign, and donate or volunteer your time to keep this committed, experienced educator in the District 3 seat.

Mercedes Schneider writes here about the latest campaign filings of funds received.

Four billionaires have donated huge sums to purchase seats on the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The board under Governor Bobby Jindal has avidly supported charters, vouchers, for-profit virtual charters, and attacks on teachers.

But the chairman of the board stepped down, and there are several highly credible candidates.

To make sure that the anti-public school, anti-teacher privatizers retain control, the following billionaires have funded a super-PAC to overwhelm the middle-class educators and other citizens who are running for the state board:

Michael Bloomberg (New York): $800,000

Eli Broad (California):$250,000

John Arnold (Texas): $625,000

Walton Family (Arkansas):$400,000

An ordinary person might be able to raise $40,000-60,000 to run for state board. The billionaires are destroying democracy with their obscene donations and their goal of buying control of a democratic institution.

You will note that none of them lives in Louisiana yet they feel okay about determining the future of public education for the people of Louisiana and their children.

Mercedes Schneider, author, master blogger and high school teacher in Louisiana, writes here about a new video that will be screened across the state.

She writes:

“The 28-minute video near the end of this post, 2011: When the Billionaires Bought BESE, was produced by Louisiana journalist Mike Stagg.

“It is the edited-for-television version of his video research on the 2011 state board of education (BESE) elections in Louisiana– a BESE election in which an unprecedented amount of out-of-state cash flowed into Louisiana in order to advance a test-score-obsessed, corporate education reform agenda.”

She adds:

“It’s 2015, and the out-of-state money continues to flow, with California billionaire Eli Broad donating $250,000, and Arkansas billionaires, Alice and Jim Walton, contributing $400,000.

“The election is October 24, 2015, with early voting starting Saturday, October 10:”

Will the voters of Louisiana reject the out-of-state billionaires’ attempt to buy control of their public schools?

What a strange world we live in!

Why are a California businessman and a pair of Arkansas billionaires dumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into the race for the state board of education in Louisiana?

Mercedes Schneider explains it here.

Billionaires Eli Broad and Alice and Jim Walton have contributed a combined $650,000 to Baton Rouge businessman Lane Grigsby’s PAC, Empower Louisiana, so that Grigsby might use it to try to retain a corporate-reform-bent majority on the state’s education board, BESE, from 2016-19.

The BESE election is scheduled for October 24, 2015.

According to Empower Louisiana’s campaign finance report (07-17-15 to 09-14-15), Jim and Alice Walton each donated $200,000 on August 20, 2015, and Broad contributed $250,000 on September 10, 2015.

The total on the above report is $763,710, which means that as of September 14, 2015, money from two billionaires from Arkansas and one billionaire from California constitutes the principal funding for Grigsby’s efforts to preserve a BESE majority known for supporting charters and vouchers without equally supporting adequate oversight; supporting high-stakes testing without supporting timely, clear, comprehensive reporting of testing results, and for allying with a state superintendent known for hiding and manipulating data, refusing to honor public records requests, and refusing to consistently audit the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE).

Grigsby considers the above to be the desired course for Louisiana’s state board of education. According to the October 01, 2015, Advocate, he plans to spend his PARC’s predominately Walton and Broad money on 3 of the 11 BESE seats:

Grigsby’s group — it is limited to independent expenditures — will rely mostly on television and radio advertisements and direct mail.

Races where it will be involved include BESE vice president Jim Garvey, of Metairie, against challenger Lee Barrios, of Abita Springs; incumbent Holly Boffy, of Youngsville, against challenger Mike Kreamer, of Lafayette and incumbent Mary Harris, of Shreveport, against challengers Tony Davis, of Natchitoches, and Glynis Johnston, of Shreveport.

The group backs Garvey, Boffy and Davis in those contests.

This is blatant buying of our democracy. There ought to be a law limiting campaign expenditures. People with unlimited resources (who don’t even live in the state) should be prevented from buying elections by flooding them with cash. Ordinary folks, who are well informed and devoted to education, but don’t have any billionaires funders, don’t have a chance.

That’s just plain wrong.

People who use their vast wealth to buy elections should be charged with criminal activity. They undermine our democracy.

By now, you may be feeling “reform fatigue” in relation to stories about Néw Orleans. But since the propagandists never sleep in their boasts about the glories of privatization, this is a story that remains important in our civic life.

Mercedes Schneider reviews a study of charter school performance on NAEP, conducted by Francesca Lopez and Amy Olsen of the University of Arizona.

Schneider writes:

“One of the primary problems with Louisiana’s state-run, all-charter Recovery School District (RSD) is that the same state that is in control of data (and the official word on its data) is also committed to representing its state-run district in the best light.

“For this reason, independent analysis of data on Louisiana’s schools is particularly valuable, especially when the researchers are able to procure data independently of the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE)….

“In order to make clearer comparisons between traditional public school students and charter school students on the eight-grade 2011 NAEP, Lopez and Olson controlled for socioeconomic status, special education status, English language learner status, and ethnicity of students as well as the ethnic and socioeconomic makeup of the schools.

“Regarding 2011 NAEP eighth-grade math, the five states with the greatest discrepancies between charters and traditional schools (with the traditional schools outperforming the charters) were Massachusetts, DC (counted as a state in this study), Texas, Rhode Island, and– with the largest discrepancy by far– Louisiana.

“As for the 2011 NAEP eighth-grade reading, the five states with the greatest discrepancies between charters and traditional schools (with the traditional schools outperforming the charters) were Massachusetts, Florida, Illinois, DC, and– once again with the largest discrepancy by far– Louisiana.

“On the 2011 NAEP in both math and reading, eighth-grade students in Louisiana’s traditional public schools outscored their charter-school counterparts by between two and three standard deviations.”

Schneider says the post-Katrina reforms was “too much ‘white’ done to the black community.”

“New Orleans charter success is white-privileged-blown smoke and state-controlled mirrors. However, a more realistic, sobering word is surfacing, and the frayed, marketing edges of all-charter, state-run RSD are getting increasingly more obvious to the American public despite the likes of John White and Campbell Brown.”

Education Week warns that voters should be wary of governors boasting about their success in education.

Jindal of Louisiana claims that his implementation of school choice increased graduation rates. But Alabama increased its grad rAte even more, without the same aggressive privatization. Funny that the governor of one of the nation s lowest perf morning states would offer it as a model.

Walker of Wisconsin says third grade reading scores went up because he busted the union. Not so fast, says EdWeek.

Jeb! boasts if fourth grade scores. Of course, holding back low-scoring third graders helped the fourth grade scores. But what about those eighth grade scores? Not so good. If the gains don’t persist, what good are they?

Andrea Gabor, experienced journalist and scholar, pulls apart the myth of the Néw Orleans “miracle.” What is remarkable is that her article appears in the New York Times, which has never investigated the exaggerated claims made by corporate reformers on behalf of eliminating public education.

The number of students in the schools of that city has dropped dramatically since Hurricane Katrina, making pre- and post- comparisons unreliable. Large numbers of students are not in school at all.

The “success” story is a myth but a very powerful one. Urban districts across the nation yearn to copy the New Orleans model: wipe out public schools; replace them with privately managed charters; fire all the teachers; hire inexperienced teachers and a few of the veterans; fund generously.

Gabor shows that other states and districts must inform themselves before proceeding.

In the last two state board elections in Louisiana, millions of dollars flowed to candidates from corporate reformers, mostly from out of state. They elected board members who support privatization and high-stakes testing. Now the people of Louisiana have a chance to elect Jason France, a oublic school parent who knows the inner workings of the state education department (having worked there). Jason needs every dollar he can raise to win. If you want to help him, his website is I debated his opponent, Chas Roemer, a few years ago in Lafayette, Louisiana, and found him to be a true believer in vouchers, charters, letter grades for schools, and high-stakes accountability for teachers.

The Network for Public Education is proud to endorse Jason France for Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), District 6. Jason France, also know as the education blogger Crazy Crawfish, is a former Louisiana Department of Education employee, a public education activist, and the parent of two Baton Rouge public school students.

Jason is running for Louisiana BESE to “remove the outside influence of corporations and the federal government (and their phony education surrogates) to allow parents and educators the freedom and final say over the education of their children.”

France is running for the seat currently occupied by BESE President Chas Roemer. Roemer is the son of former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer – he has never attended public school, and his children don’t attend public school. He has been a champion of “charter schools, Common Core, test-based evaluations for schools and teachers and Education Superintendent John White,” according to the Times-Picayune. Roemer is a classic example of the privileged few making decisions for other people’s children.

The next BESE Board will have a crucially important to role to play in the future of public education in Louisiana. The next board will decide to keep or fire controversial reformster State Superintendent John White, who has stated a desire to stay in the position. A flip in District 6 would mean the potential for real change for students and teachers in Louisiana.

NPE is certain Jason France is just the candidate to help bring about the kind of revolutionary change needed in Louisiana. Please visit Jason’s campaign website to learn more about his policy positions on issues such as Charters, Common Core, Testing, VAM, and Student Privacy. You can also read the most recent post on his blog, which is a direct appeal to the voters of Louisiana.

“Louisiana, if you really want to fix education, you need to examine the motivations of folks that are pitching their ideas to you and stay focused on your chief goal – fixing education outcomes and preparing children for a lifetime of learning – rather than being tied down by a single solution, candidate, or ally.”

Jason’s years of activism in his home state have won him the support of some of Louisiana’s most prominent voices in the fight for public education.

Career classroom teacher, researcher, and writer Mercedes Schneider says:

“Jason France is a committed and knowledgeable fighter for the community school. His experience as a former LDOE data manager continues to be invaluable as the Louisiana public seeks a level of transparency that current state superintendent John White and the current BESE majority fight to conceal. As a BESE board member, France will be in a position to truly hold White, LDOE, and BESE accountable to the Louisiana public they are supposed to serve. I wholeheartedly endorse France as the next representative for Louisiana BESE District 6.”

And indefatigable New Orleans Education Advocate Karran Harper Royal adds:

“Jason France is extremely knowledgeable about the issues facing public education in Louisiana. As a public school parent, Jason will bring the kind of informed and invested voice that has been missing from education policy making in our state.”

Jason’s work has not only been on the local and state level, his advocacy has extended to the national level as well. His work with the group Student Privacy Matters helped bring about the destruction of data giant inBloom.

Jason’s work has gotten the attention of NPE President Diane Ravitch, who said:

“Jason has the deep knowledge of education that’s needed for BESE. More than that, he is a parent of public school children. BESE needs Jason France.”

Louisiana is one of only nine State Boards of Education’s in the nation with elected, rather than appointed members. The opportunity to elect advocates like Jason to BESE should not be squandered. It is time to bring the voice of the people to a board that has shut out the community for too long. As Jason wrote on his blog:

“We won’t have successful community schools without the community. We have mobilized communities in many parts of the state. This BESE and LDOE ignores them, mocks them and alienates them.”

We urge those in District 6 to get out and vote for Jason, and help spread the word. There are links on his website where you can sign up to volunteer or donate to his campaign. Please help Jason take Chas Roemer’s seat and give it back to the people of Louisiana.


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