Friday, August 28, 2015

Another Example of John White Withholding Vital Data: No Common Core Test Results Available for a Long Time

When I was a kid growing up on a farm, we were always suspicious when a chicken set on eggs too long; that those eggs were probably rotten!

This relates to data needed by the members of the Curriculum Standards Review Committee to enable them to properly do their job of revising curriculum standards as mandated by the Legislature.

At the first meeting of the Curriculum Standards Review committee, several members of the committee proposed my suggestion that the committee receive an item analysis of the PARCC-like tests given this Spring. This was the first time that Common Core standards were tested on all of our 3 through 8th grade students. This item analysis would have been vital to help identify problem areas in the standards. No other comparable measure of the appropriateness of the standards for Louisiana students exists. The Chairperson of the committee, Dr Sanford, agreed to request both an item analysis and the raw cut scores for each such test.

The following is the response she got from the Louisiana Department of Education:

Dr Sanford states:
"I requested the results of the Spring accountability testing to be shared with the committee.  This is the official response which I have been given."

"As has been communicated in previous communications<>, the department is not able to release PARCC results until late fall/early winter. At this time PARCC has not released any data to states for release. A series of PARCC states have released data but they are not PARCC results. Those states (Massachusetts and New York) required students to take both the PARCC test and their state assessments. The results they have released are their local state assessment results. All PARCC states will have access to results at the same time and will release at that time. For a reminder of all release dates and resources for last year's current results and this year's assessment resources please review previous LDE communications<>." 

Dr Sanford goes on to state the following:
"While it would have been very useful for each committee member to review this data, obviously this is not going to be available to the committee.  Therefore, it will be important as we do this work to remember that the standards which are adopted by BESE, hopefully as a result of our work, will be the basis of future assessment measures.  The standards should drive the development of assessment questions in the future."   

My concern is this: In a public BESE meeting John White assured the Board and the public that Louisiana was no longer part of the PARCC consortium and that we would be contracting with Data Recognition Corporation to produce our own version of a PARCC-like test to test the Common Core standards in math and English/language arts. Why then are we still tied to the PARCC consortium and cannot get the results of the test that our taxpayers have paid for? No results until late Fall or early Winter? Winter starts December 22. 

Why is it that all educators in our school systems are accountable but not the State Superintendent?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Letter From BESE Member BEEBE

Note to readers: The following is a letter from Dr Lottie Beebe, BESE member representing Dist. 3. Dr Beebe has been the voice of reason on BESE. She points out that John White as the official custodian of public information for the Department of Education routinely withholds vital information from researchers and citizens. I have won two lawsuits commanding White to produce public information I requested. We as taxpayers had to pay the court costs and penalties imposed on White for violation of the Louisiana Public Records Law. Right now I have a third lawsuit awaiting a hearing and two other outstanding requests that have not been complied with.                                                                                                                                          Mike Deshotels

 Dear Editor:

A recent editorial in a locally distributed newspaper  (“October ballot holds key races this fall for School Board seats,” August 22, 2015) notes that important decisions will be made in the October 24th election regarding the state’s school board, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE).  I agree with the editorial’s assessment of the importance of the BESE elections, but not its assertions regarding the educational progress of the past four years.

The editorial asserts that “test scores are up while dropout rates are down” but does not provide the source for this information.  This assertion of academic progress is similar to assertions made by the leadership of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI)—a  group whose leaders have pledged to spend a large amount of money supporting BESE candidates who will make similar claims in the fall election.  But what is the source of these claims?

The claims originate from data provided by the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE), which is led by Superintendent of Education John White, who is appointed by BESE.  While the LDOE should be a trustworthy, unbiased source of education data, the politics of the past four years have created a perception that the LDOE is misrepresenting information.  A record amount
of money was spent four years ago by LABI and other special interest groups to ensure that a BESE majority would be in place to hire White, the choice of Governor Bobby Jindal for the position.

Since White became Superintendent, the LDOE changed its website; it was once a functional government site that provided verifiable data to the public, but the data was removed and the site now primarily espouses a trite slogan – “” became “”

Ironically, Louisiana cannot believe the claims that the 2012 reforms work, because they cannot be easily verified by independent sources. Numerous, lawful requests for public information from citizens have been ignored by the LDOE; some citizens had to take the LDOE to court to get data released.  Credible researchers found that the LDOE had changed the curve on its standardized tests to make it appear that students were doing better on the tests and the LDOE has changed its metrics for calculating graduation rates and the number of students that go to college in order to improve these scores. When Louisiana’s citizens hear claims of academic progress over the past four years, they should be mindful of the questionable source of this information.

Local school districts would welcome true support and collaboration with business and industry to help address the ill effects of poverty on the students we serve, rather than business and industry trying to promote choice policies that redirect scarce resources to unproven education options.

I reiterate my support for responsible education reform initiatives that are research-based and accompanied by transparent data.      

Lottie P. Beebe, Ed. D., BESE Member District 3
Breaux Bridge, LA 70517


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Both Republicans and Democrats Are Wrong on Education!

This report by Peter Greene in his blog Curmudgucation is a humorous take on the horrible, stupid, contradictory and damaging positions on education issues expressed at a recent forum in New Hampshire by Republican candidates. This forum is of particular interest to us in Louisiana because it was hosted by our own Louisiana native Campbell Brown, hater of public school teachers, and daughter of former Secretary of state Jim Brown. Also our Bobby Jindal made a fool of himself as usual by bragging about all the stupid things he had done to Louisiana education.

But before anybody gets upset about me picking on the Republicans, I just want to remind my readers that I have often pointed out how damaging and ill conceived the policies of our Democratic president and his unqualified Arne Duncan have been for education. In fact I believe that Arne Duncan has done even more damage to public education than George Bush did with his idiotic No Child Left Behind disaster.

Trust me, this post by Peter Greene is so spot on, so well written, so effective in pointing out the stupid, hypocritical, contradictions on important education issues by these candidates that you will actually enjoy reading it even though, if you are an educator, it will probably bring tears to your eyes. (Just one slight correction: Jindal did not create the charter mess in New Orleans, but he is still all for it!)  We must read articles like this so that we can be reminded that we must fight on to defend public education. No matter how tired we are, we must continue to point out the insanity of these constant attacks on public education and on our teaching profession.

Please take the time to go to my Louisiana Educator Facebook page and "like" this page so that you can stay informed about the BESE elections this October 24. I may also inform readers on critical legislative races that could affect public education.