Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Our Rubber Stamp BESE

BESE continued to rubber stamp Superintendent White's recommendations in committee actions yesterday, even when such actions seemed ridiculous by any reasonable standard. BESE members Carolyn Hill, Lottie Beebe, educators and others in the audience repeatedly questioned the logic of the continued moves toward privatization of our public schools. All to no avail.

But White had his well funded astro-turf organizations primed to make the usual appeals to the Board for more choice (privatization) even when their arguments were non-sensical. For example, in the debate over the acceptance of a whole new batch of charter schools for the failed Baton Rouge Recovery District, parents who had been brought in by BAEO and Stand for Children, explained how their children had been poorly served by the previous charter schools in the BR Recovery District and gave this as a reason why BESE should continue to approve more charters!!! Some of us in the audience scratched our heads at this twisted logic and then again when a teacher from one of the defunct charters said that it was time that BESE added stability to the staffing of the schools in the RSD by approving the new batch of charters. This is how it went. Beebe and Hill just kept asking "how does this make sense?" But the votes on our rubber stamp BESE kept going down 9 to 2 for whatever the privatizers wanted.

Questioned also was the logic of shutting down the Louisiana Virtual School by White, which had been in operation for years offering students all over the state courses that they could not fit into their local schedules. This school funded with 8g money and operated out of the DOE has provided courses for up to 6,000 students in some recent years and has always gotten excellent reviews by educators and parents. Yet White chose to shut it down this year to make room for the Course Choice privatization program that allows private companies to charge much more than LVS for the virtual courses. This year the Course Choice program will provide 2,000 course units with a wait list of about 1,000 students because the same money that used to fund up to 7,000 course units has run out! Again, the educators in the audience and two BESE members could hardly believe their ears.

But wait there's more! White explained that the new Course Choice system would have much more accountability than the old LVS system. He never really explained what that better accountability was since the private providers will get to sell their wares for at least 3 years before they are evaluated. The old system was under the direct control of DOE and could be fixed at any time that it was not providing good service. Now the private providers will get half their money up-front for each student enrolled with no provision for return of that money even if a student drops out after the first couple of weeks. Also, there is no state monitoring of student attendance of these classes, so students can miss almost any amount of their scheduled virtual classes and the state has no recourse. But to add insult to injury, the provider can simply report at any time that the student has completed a course without documentation of such, and the provider gets paid the remainder of the fee. I asked BESE months ago, "What if a student takes a state tested course and fails that test after getting a good grade from the course provider, does the state get any of its money back?" The answer was NO! . . . .
One more thing: the school performance rating for this failed test is assigned to the student's public school, not to the Course Choice, for-profit, provider. This is what White calls better accountability.

2 comments:

Jeremy said...

I wish we could see White's bank accounts just to see how much he's raking in on under the table deals from these Course Choice providers. I can only imagine.

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

For recent report on the incomplete and inaccurate data reporting by CHARTERS to USEd see:

http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/655930.pdf.

http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-543.

And yet the federal dollars keep pouring in based on what seems to be fraudulent reporting. When will a thorough CRIMINAL investigation be launched?