Archives for category: Louisiana

Mercedes Schneider is back to work teaching high school English in Louisiana. She is doing her best to keep her students socially distanced, though she hasn’t figured out how that will be possible when her class size reaches 24.

But the silver lining is that her students are wearing masks! They are not acting stupid and refusing to protect themselves and others! That’s good news for them and for her.

Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the Supreme Court’s four liberal justices to strike down a Louisiana law that would have severely restricted access to abortion.

The Washington Post reports:

The Supreme Court on Monday provided a victory for abortion rights activists, striking down a restrictive Louisiana law that would have left the state with only one abortion clinic.


Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined the court’s liberals in the 5 to 4 decision. It was a blow to conservatives who had hoped for a dramatic change in the court’s abortion jurisprudence in the first case heard by a court reinforced by President Trump’s two conservative appointees.


Instead, Roberts said the Louisiana law could not stand given the court’s 2016 decision to to overturn a similar Texas law in 2016.
“The legal doctrine of stare decisis requires us, absent special circumstances, to treat like cases alike,” Roberts wrote in concurring with the decision. “The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons. Therefore Louisiana’s law cannot stand under our precedents.”


Roberts ‘s vote was all the more striking because he dissented in the Texas case. He said he continues “believe that the [Texas] case was wrongly decided.” But he said the question was whether to “adhere to it in the present case.”


It was perhaps the most dramatic example of Roberts’s new role as the pivotal member of the court, and indicated that while he supports restrictions on abortion, he is unready at this point to overhaul the court’s jurisprudence supporting the right of a woman to choose the procedure.

A side note: in states where protestors have refused to wear face masks, some have chanted, “My body, my choice!”

Ironic. Do the anti-maskers support abortion rights?

Thanks to the reporting of Mercedes Schneider, we have followed the travails of that state over several years of “reform” leadership: Republican Governor Jindal pushed charters and vouchers. Out-of-State money elected a pro-Jindal Board. That board selected John White as state superintendent. White was TFA and Broadies. He had worked for Joel Klein, then briefly ran the New Orleans Recovery School District. As Jindal’s chief school officer, he enthusiastically promoted charters and vouchers and made outlandish promises about what he would achieve. When Democrat John Bel Edwards was elected, he wanted to dump White, but didn’t have the votes on the board. White resigned earlier this year. The state board appointed Cade Brumley, a veteran Louisiana educator (surprise!).

As Schneider describes here, White’s team of inexperienced but well paid assistants, mostly TFA alums, headed for the exits.

She writes:

Brumley’s leadership hires tend to have both classroom and administrative experience related to a traditional ed career path; they tend to have roots in Louisiana, and they include women and people of color.

Furthermore, even though some of his admin hires represent ed reform, Brumley favors individuals with grounding in traditional teacher/admin training. And, keep in mind that all who accept a position in Brumley’s LDOE must be willing to work under a state superintendent to whom John White’s TFA-heavy, ed-reform leadership is submitting their resignations.

I find all of this very encouraging, indeed.

Mike Deshotels reviews the past several years of “reform,” funded by the Walton Family and Michael Bloomberg, and declares that every part of it has failed.

Deshotels writes that the suspension of recess so that students could have more time for test prep led to lower test scores!

He writes:

Why isn’t constant drilling on test taking skills at the expense of recess, PE, art, music, vocational education, and other “less important” instruction producing higher test scores? Maybe because the current trend to ignore fundamental child development principle’s is harmful in every way, including killing the joy of schooling for both children and teachers! Teachers in Finland, whose students perform at the top of the rankings on international achievement tests, routinely take young children outdoors where they can play, investigate nature and develop normally as they are programmed by their genes to do. Why do American reformers insist on counteracting nature and instead have transformed our education system to motivation killing test drudgery?

It was equally stupid to remove teachers from the decision-making process and leave it to legislators and the state education department. What a bad idea!

This outrageous trampling on the rights and critical input of the teaching profession in education decisions has actually resulted in the opposite of what our non-educator reformers said they wanted to do. Do you think our government can stop the Corona virus by ignoring the recommendations of the highly trained experts in disease prevention? The same is true of refusing to listen to real teachers about education reform. Do you believe, as the reformers would have you believe, that education reform in Louisiana is really working in preparing students for college and careers? Are you willing to ignore the most recent devastating revelation by our own Board of Regents that after all the reforms imposed on K-12 education in Louisiana, only 18 out of one hundred of our students will attain a college degree of any kind. Not even a two year associate’s degree! These are the worst results I have ever seen! Don’t blame the teachers. Teacher attended the legislative committee proposing these changes by the thousands to protest these untested ideas, only to be scolded for having the nerve to come to Baton Rouge on a school day (but that was the only time the Education committee was meeting!). Now the chickens are coming home to roost and thousands of our most dedicated teachers have left the profession.

Who has been making decisions? The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, exactly the worst people to decide how to educate the state’s children.

The stranglehold over control of public education by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry promises even more failure with the upcoming appointment of John White’s replacement.
Make no mistake about it, LABI has had almost total control over K-12 education for over 4 years since they used Michael Bloomburg’s and Walton family contributions to totally purchase all the BESE elected positions. They have made nothing but bad decisions with all this power. The school privatization they pushed has been almost a total failure with data showing that students who stay in their public schools do significantly better than they do when they move to a voucher or charter school.

Now LABI is preparing to pick the state’s next superintendent to succeed the failed John White, who mastered the art of spinning data to make it look good when it wasn’t. Of course, they are pushing White’s loyal assistant.

Let’s look at some of the real results of LABI supported reforms. On their web site, LABI claims that Louisiana is closing the achievement gap between privileged and underprivileged students. Data demonstrates instead that the exact opposite is true. They are also dead wrong claiming that ACT scores are improving. LABI is now down to apparently basing its education policies on wishful thinking rather than evidence.

The same is true of teacher evaluations based on student test scores using our defective state tests. LABI has insisted that Louisiana evaluate its teachers partially on student test scores. But all the data proves that the VAM system used is unstable and inaccurate. So a couple of years ago I got thrown off of a state committee studying changes to VAM because I had the nerve to state on my blog that LABI was like the dog that caught the truck with this whole VAM fiasco. They don’t have any idea what to do with VAM but they will never admit they were wrong. Meanwhile some very competent and dedicated teachers have had their careers ruined by VAM and thousands of great teachers have left the profession.

Louisiana has been fully in the grips of the Disruption Machine. It has fallen to the bottom of NAEP, which John White hailed as “proof” that the state had enacted higher standards. More failure like that and Louisiana will fall below Alabama and New Mexico, the lowest performing states.

Louisiana has bought into all the favorite remedies of “reform” (aka disruption), and there is nothing to show for it but failure, propaganda, and lies.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced a budget proposal that earmarked new spending on education, but no raises for teachers, whose pay is below the average for southern states.

For Louisiana public school teachers, a group that includes some of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ earliest and most avid supporters, the governor’s first post-reelection budget proposal has good news and bad news.

The good news is a request that the Legislature spend significantly more on education. The $32 billion spending package includes an additional $65 million to support K-12 schools, $25 million for early childhood learning programs and $35 million for colleges.

The bad news is that a certain line item is conspicuously missing: money specifically dedicated to raise teacher pay.

No raises has been the status quo for a long time now, with the notable exception of last year, when Edwards backed the first increase in a decade. Until Friday, every indication, both from Edwards’ campaign-year rhetoric and from the new reality of a budget surplus, was that it wouldn’t be the last.

It could be, at least for now. Rather than propose a specific raise and signal that Edwards would once again fight for it in the Legislature, his administration is now saying that any raises this year would have to come from the overall allocations the state makes to school districts. So while some teachers may benefit, there would be nothing across the board.

The governor’s top priority is early childhood education.

Low education spending and low teacher pay help to maintain Louisiana’s place as one of the lowest-performing states in the nation on NAEP.

 

Uber-reformer John White announced that he is resigning as superintendent of Louisiana.

He has sterling disrupter credentials.

Teach for America. Broad Academy. Joel Klein’s inner circle. Briefly leader of New Orleans’ charter district.

Mercedes Schneider has the story here. She thinks the next state superintendent might actually be an experienced educator.

Under White’s leadership, Louisiana dropped to nearly the very bottom of NAEP.

Watch to see which disruption group or leader picks him up next: the Waltons? The City Fund? John Arnold? Charles Koch? Bill Gates? Jeb Bush?

 

 

If anyone doubts that big money is buying our democracy, read Mercedes Schneider’s post about the recent election in Louisiana.

Anyone who doubts that ueber-wealthy ed reformers are purchasing elections in other states need only consider this November 10, 2019, campaign finance reportfor the Louisiana Federation for Children (LFC) Action Fund PAC. Even so, as one quickly realizes when following ed reform money, the connections readily become numerous and complicated.

Let’s see how concise I can keep this this post centered on a single, LFC campaign finance report.

LFC is a state-level tentacle of the American Federation for Children (AFC), the school choice vehicle formerly chaired by US ed sec, Betsy DeVos. Louisiana gubernatorial challenger, Eddie Rispone is the former LFC chair. and also the former treasurer of the LFC Action Fund PAC.

According to LFC Action Fund PAC’s November 10, 2019, filing, three out-of-state donors (two individuals and one PAC), donated a combined $825K in October 2019. The same three donated a combined $2.6M in 2019 alone. They are Arkansas billonaire and Walmart heir, Jim Walton; California billionaire William Oberndorf, who succeeded DeVos as AFC chair, and a school choice PAC, Public School Allies:

  • William Oberndorf (CA): $275K in 10/19; $550K YTD (year to date).
  • Jim Walton (AR): $350K in 10/19; $912K YTD.
  • Public School Allies (VA): $200K in 10/19; $1.2M YTD.

Public School Allies lists as its address “6312 Seven Corners Center #354
Falls Church, VA 22044,” which is a UPS drop box. However, the October 24, 2019, Chlakbeat reports that Public School, Allies is the “political arm” of the City Fund, created in 2018 to spread school choice by three individuals, including former New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) CEO, Neerav Kingsland. From Chalkbeat:

The political arm of The City Fund, the organization with ambitions to spread charter schools and the “portfolio model” of school reform across the country, plans to spend $15 million to influence state and local elections over the next three years.

That political group, known as Public School Allies, has already directed money toward to school board races in Atlanta, Camden, Newark, and St. Louis, and state elections in Louisiana, Georgia, and New Jersey. Donations have ranged from $1 million to as little as $1,500.

The information was shared by Public School Allies and, in a number of cases, confirmed by campaign finance records. The $15 million comes from Netflix founder Reed Hastings and former hedge-fund manager John Arnold, the organization said.

According to his Linkedin bio, Kingsland worked for both Hastings and Arnold “leading education giving” immediately prior to establishing the City Fund.

Sure makes it read like the City Fund “belongs” to billionaires Hastings and Arnold.

But they are not alone. In 2018, billionaire Bill Gates gave the City Fund $10M “to increase the number of high-quality public schools in Oakland.” Of course, to the City Fund, a “public school” is a charter school.

Those complex ed-reform funding paths always seem to end with a few millionaires and billionaires, tossing their cash and puppeting the strings of American K12 education.

Open the link to read the list of officials who were elected by out-of-state billionaires.

Here is the thing: They can buy the seats, but once they have bought them, they have no plans that will actually improve anything. They love power. They buy elections.

Big money is a malignant force in our democracy.

I am not sure that I agree with Steven Singer’s point here, that NAEP scores tell us nothing other than that students from affluent homes have higher test scores than students who live in poverty. 

His main point is undeniable. All standardized test scores are highly correlated with family income.

We could use income and poverty data to learn what the test scores tell us, without wasting billions on standardized tests and corrupting instruction.

But I think that NAEP does tell us something we need official confirmation for: the utter failure of Disruptive Corporate Reform.

The Disrupters have promised since No Child Left Behind was proposed in 2001 that they knew how to raise test scores and close achievement gaps: Test every child every year and hold schools accountable for rising or falling scores. That will do it, said George W. Bush, Margaret Spellings, Rod Paige and Sandy Kress. They rode the wave of the “Texas miracle,” which turned out to be non-existent. Texas in 2019 is stuck right in the middle of the distribution of states.

Then came Jeb Bush, with his fantastical claims of a “Florida miracle,” which are now repeated by Betsy DeVos. Look at the NAEP scores: Florida is right in the middle of the states. No miracle there.

Arne Duncan has been promoting Tennessee, which as one of the first Race to the Top states, which is also ensconced in the middle of the distribution.

Look for yourself.

Two states that were firmly under the control of Reform heroes, Louisiana and New Mexico, are at the tail end of the distribution.

What do the NAEP scores tell us?

Don’t look for miracles.

Don’t believe propaganda spun by snake-oil salesman.

Look to states and districts that are economically developed and that fund their schools adequately and fairly.

The scores in states may go up or down a few points, but the bottom line is that the basics matter most. That is, a state willing and able to support education and families able to support their children.

 

Mercedes Schneider teaches high school English in Louisiana. She has been a close observer of the corporate reforms (the Disruption movement) under State Superintendent John White. White has been in charge since 2012. He has had the authority to pursue his own agenda, with the unwavering support of a state board elected by out-of-state money.

Schneider lays out his record, based on NAEP scores and ACT scores. 

It is not a pretty picture.

Schneider is accustomed to John White’s cherry-picking of data. But she will not let him get away with it.

She writes:

On October 30, 2019, the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores were made public.

After seven years of John White as Louisiana’s state superintendent, the results were so unsavory White and his Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) that his Louisiana 2019 NAEP Results Summary does not include a single actual NAEP scaled score.

Instead, the propagandistic flier advertises “change from 2017 to 2019” (differences in the actual scores that are intentionally excluded) and features “Louisiana ranks No. 1 in the nation for 2019 improvement in 8th grade math scale scores and
proficiency rates” and “Louisiana’s pace of improvement since 2009 in all subjects significantly exceeds national trends.”

So, let’s look at Louisiana’s NAEP average scaled scores across time– not just from 2017 to 2019.

She posts all the state’s NAEP scores from 2005-2019 (White has been superintendent since 2012)

But then there are the ACT scores.

She writes:

On the same day that 2019 NAEP scores were released, so were Louisiana’s Class of 2019 ACT scores.

Louisiana’s Class of 2019 composite was 18.9— the lowest since all Lousiana graduates began to be required to take the test, beginning with the Class of 2013. In that year, Louisiana’s baseline composite was 19.5 (or 19.1, depending which LDOE info one reads).

Louisiana’s ACT Composite Scores (2013 – 2019):

  • 2013: 19.5 (or 19.1)
  • 2014: 19.2
  • 2015: 19.4
  • 2016: 19.5
  • 2017: 19.6
  • 2018: 19.3
  • 2019: 18.9

Not so surprisingly, White has no press release for Louisiana’s 2019 ACT dive.

That does not mean he has not been asked.

New Orleans Public Radio education reporter, Jess Clark, asked White to comment on Louisiana’s falling ACT score and received the following vague response, including NAEP-propaganda deflection:

Asked for comment on the latest ACT results, Louisiana State Superintendent John White sent an emailed statement pointing to progress the state made in 8th grade math on another national standardized test, the “Nation’s Report Card,” or NAEP.

While the nation’s report card shows Louisiana tops the nation in 8th grade math progress, it’s important that we look at other indicators of our challenges,” he said.

John White wants to look at other indicators of “our” challenges.

I’ll bet he does.

.

 

 

Gary Rubinstein, math teacher at Stuyvesant High School, is a skilled myth buster. He frequently unmasks “miracle” stories.

In this post, he demolishes the claim that Louisiana has improved faster in 8th grade math than other states.

This is the last gasp of the Disruption movement, which has controlled federal and state policy for 20 years but has little to show for it.

As Rubinstein shows, Arne Duncan and John White are leading the effort to find the “bright side” of the latest NAEP results, which were stagnant In 2019 and have been stagnant for a decade.

Duncan says the nation should look to Louisiana for inspiration. Louisiana ranked among the bottom  states on NAEP, 44th to 49th, depending on the grade and the subject. But how creative to point to one of the lowest performing states as a national model! Do what Louisiana did and your state too can rank among the bottom five states in the nation!

Gary points out that Louisiana has indeed improved, but its 2019 scores on 8th grade math were actually a point lower than its scores were in 2007! In other words, Louisiana hasn’t gained at all for the past dozen years!.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if the leaders of the Disruption movement admitted that their 20-year-long policy of test-and-punish is both stale and failed?

Wouldn’t it be great if they said, “Whoa! We’re on the wrong track. We’ve inflicted nonstop testing on the nation’s children since 2002. We have spent billions on testing and test-prep. Scores went up for a few years but leveled off in 2007. Enough! Our answers are wrong. Time for fresh thinking.”