Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Misleading DOE Press Release on Voucher Audits

Central Louisiana blogger Lamar White Jr. in this post exposes the appalling results of an audit of Louisiana's voucher schools. The blog points out that the audit reports are so incomplete in their findings and reveal such lack of compliance with rules for tracking of funds that they should be considered worthless in examining the use of taxpayer funds for student vouchers.

An Associated Press story by Melinda Deslatte dated June 28 also pointed out that 107 of the 117 voucher schools did not provide enough information to the auditors for the state to determine whether or not the voucher money was spent according to the state guidelines.

This press release by the DOE  dated June 28 made the following statements:

"Of the 117 schools audited all were found to be compliant with Bulletin 133 except for the New Living Word school."

As a result, Superintendent White has banned the New Living Word School from further participation in the voucher program

The press release also stated:

"These findings are evidence that the oversight process is working and that there will be zero tolerance for fiscal mismanagement of taxpayer dollars," Superintendent of Education John White said in a statement.

My question is: How can the DOE claim that 116 schools were found to be compliant with Bulletin 133 when the great majority of schools did not provide the necessary documentation to demonstrate that they complied with Bulletin 133? And for John White to say that the oversight process is working and that there will be zero tolerance for fiscal mismanagement of taxpayer dollars is ludicrous! Just banning one school from the program when the majority of schools refused to provide the information needed to judge their compliance does not in any way equate to zero tolerance.

This press release basically describing the audit as representing a clean bill of health for the voucher schools is at a minimum misleading and could be more accurately described as a deliberate effort by the DOE to deceive the public.

See also the excellent commentary today on the Bob Mann blog here.

In an earlier post on this subject, Lamar White called for John White's resignation because of incompetence in the administration of the voucher program.

I believe it is certainly necessary that BESE, the governor and the legislature at least order an investigation of the Department's monitoring of the voucher program by the Inspector General and the Legislative Auditor to determine if there is neglect of duty or incompetence on the part of our State Superintendent.


Jeremy said...

All I can say is "wow." It's almost unbelievable...almost.

Add this on top of the news report that I read today about the over 7500 teacher retirements in the state during the last two years and things are beyond ridiculous. In the article, it said:

"State Superintendent of Education John C. White said the resignations should be looked at as primarily a financial decision on the part of more veteran employees."

No, I look at it as you running off a lot of teachers who probably would have stayed longer had it not been for your shenanigans John White.

Anonymous said...

I think the mentality is to have experienced teachers flush out of the system. The belief seems to be that the only way to improve LA from 47th in the nation is to get rid of the teachers that have produced these results, and the sooner...the better it will be. The consideration for the fact there really isn't a line of people dying to take our jobs is hiding behind an ideology that career teachers are not necessary. Instead of fighting/standing up to the bullying from DoE, BESE, appears career teachers are simply walking away at their earliest convenience. It seems to be a teacher mentality that is saying, "We've done all we know how to do, and you are right...our results are dismal for the most part. If you think you can do it better, then go ahead. Good luck!" In the process teacher average salaries will roll back 15+ years as retirees leave and newbies take the reigns, I don't see how classroom management can possibly get better with the lack of managerial knowledge, and refined teaching practices from year to year will take a hit. District to district transfers will grind to a halt for experienced teachers as tenure has become unattainable in a new setting...but the newbies will bounce around filling in retiree spots in the better districts in years to come which will prolong the haves and the have nots in new ways. I'm about to start my 20th year...and if I knew back then what I know now...I'd have gone into medicine - the other option my mother offered to me when I declared a major! I'm "highly effective" today (based on recent release of scores), but would walk out tomorrow if I weren't so vested in my current retirement, health care, and sick day "bank". It is like they are oblivious to the fact that finding quality teachers was already difficult before their great ideas to "fix" things...but the stress placed on even the quality teachers is so heavy...they are quietly packing up and turning the light out. I spent more time documenting student progress (pre/post testing, SLTs, writing test items that might mimic testing, etc.) last year than I did ensuring my lessons were interactive and tailored to the curriculum. There just isn't enough time to do it all anymore. And there definitely isn't enough technology to meet new demands, either. We place so much emphasis on test outcomes and gearing lessons to test questions...interesting and interactive lessons are being sacrificed. My kid in Zachary started doing test packets in Sept. for homework and didn't end until after testing in April...if that is what is happening in the #1 district in the state...what is going on everywhere else? And he hates school...I didn't have a great affinity for it...but it was better than being at home! We have to push him out with hot poker iron (practically, not literally)! If this is what is happening to the best teachers of the best students in the best districts in the state, poor ol' St. Helena and the like ain't got a snowball's chance in you know where.

Lee Barrios, M.Ed., NBCT said...

My request - not the first - sent to all legislators June 30. Only one response to date . I don't believe an investigation will happen unless we hire our own investigator or can get the FBI involved.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

What more will it take for those of you with the influence and position needed to call for a full investigation of John White, Patrick Dobard, LDE, RSD and BESE?

At some point and as a result of overt support of the continued bilking of taxpayer dollars and the resulting theft of our children's educational opportunity, all will be held accountable. It is not possible to put one's head in the sand while passing legislation that promulgates this corruption while maintaining one's reputation with your constituents.

Many join me in asking for any one or more of you to pull the trigger on a full and impartial investigation and audit of these parties and a special legislative hearing with full testimony and questioning by and to highly qualified educators and researchers who continue to work hard to raise the veil of corruption and lies being perpetrated - those who have no political or financial gain to look forward to but who revere public education and the opportunity it affords the future of our democracy. How many more millions of dollars will have to come from your pockets and the pockets of Louisiana citizens and into those pockets of these crooks.

Please respond to this formal and public request as to your position. The public deserves to know that you are listening.

Lee P. Barrios, M.Ed., NBCT
178 Abita Oaks Loop
Abita Springs, Louisiana, 70420

Lee Barrios, M.Ed., NBCT said...

Read this story from The Lens and tell me John White believes in accountability. This is typical crap going on in the RSD. Who will make it stop?,

Gil Trapette said...

I don't know why, but I find all of this so funny. Somebody needs to be hiring these guys a press release service, no questions about it.