Withholding Data: John White, PARCC, and the BESE Elections

Withholding Data: John White, PARCC, and the BESE Elections


There’s been a lot of criticism of John White, the Louisiana Department of Education, and the sitting BESE board for withholding data and data manipulation. Educational researchers and policy advocates are particularly incensed when the LDOE refuses to release data that had been traditionally used to double-check the claims of the state. The Advocate has posted a story about the rising controversy over White refusing to release PARCC test scores. (PARCC is the standardized achievement test that

Read more

Misplaced Priorities: One Acadiana’s Educational Advocacy


The education priorities One Acadiana announced at a PR event at ULL’s Picard Center are a mixed bag. Sure it’s great to support increased funding of pre-K classrooms at the Picard Center for Childhood Development. But the confident announcement of success for Louisiana’s corporate-driven reforms is both disturbingly self-congratulatory and dangerously wrong. The absences and odd choices in the presentation should serve as a warning signal to concerned citizens—absent is any mention of Louisiana’s basically unchanged

Read more

Forum on The School Performance Score: how does it affect our children?


PPEL (Power of Public Education Lafayette) held a public forum on the Louisiana School Performance Score on September 15 at 6:00 pm in the Clifton Chenier Community Center in North Lafayette. The free forum focused on how the Louisiana School Performance Scores, School Letter Grades, and standardized testing effect our children. It provided up-to-date information from people with different positions within the world of public education. Questions were taken from the audience and folks stayed after the event to talk with other interested members of the public and the speakers. It was an interesting and invigorating night.

Featuring speakers included: Tom Spencer, LPSS Director of Accountability; Noel Hammatt, education researcher; Dr. Frank Del Favero, Education professor at UL Lafayette, and Dr. Patrice Pujol, Ascension Parish Superintendent and member of the State Accountability Commission.

The forum was broadcast on AOC and clips of each presentation have been made available on AOC’s YouTube channel. Each speaker’s presentation is embedded below.

Tom Spencer
The LPSS Director of Accountability


Noel Hammatt
Educational Researcher, Former East Baton Rouge Parish School Board member, and past President of the Louisiana School Boards Association


Frank Del Favero
Professor of Education at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette


Patric Pujol
Ascension Parish Superintendent and member of the State Accountability Commission

PPEL Fundraiser and Friday Happy Hour

Hey it’s Friday. And it’s beer. And it’s local music. Aaand it’s our 1st fundraiser as an official non-profit. We’ve got plans and we need your help. (That $10 admission.)
The live music includes Adam Doucet’s Coup de Main and Rodolfo Espinoza’s jazz and stuff combo. Mark your calendars and bring your friends.
Please share!
Event page on this website (with map).   Event page on Facebook (let us know you’re coming!)
PPEL Fundraiser 8:2014



LPSB: Lawsuit Threatened; Conditions Set; Draft of Potential Suit Available


Stories in the Independent and the Advertiser broke the news that Greg Davis, with Gary McGoffin acting as lawyer, have threatened a lawsuit against the board unless they comply with demands to pass as set of resolution that end the investigation of Superintendent Cooper and that the board accept last years budget going forward rather than finish putting together its own budget. The Advertiser in particular has a very interesting and informative set of comments that begin to raise appropriate questions. 

In response to a query I made in the Advertiser comments on that story Gary McGoffin kindly forwarded a copy of the cover letter, and a copy of the resolution he wants the school board to adopt to avert the threat of lawsuit. I’ve uploaded pdf versions to the PPEL site and are making them available at the following URLs:

The cover letter outlining the demands:http://www.ppelafayette.org/…/2014/08/Rule-65.1-letter.pdf

The proposed board resolutions whose passage would presumably head off the lawsuit: http://www.ppelafayette.org/…/Board-Resolution…

The draft copy of the application for an injunction against the board that would be filed against the Board should they fail to comply:http://www.ppelafayette.org/…/Injunction…

Dont mortgage the bridge to our childrens future


Ann BurrussAnn Burrus has a fine essay on the budget issue in the Advertiser. If you’ve not seen take a look:Dont mortgage the bridge to our childrens future.

“Louisiana teacher flight”


KLFY runs a series on Louisiana teacher flight featuring PPEL people Rudolfo Espinoza and Melissa Mangham. Tripling the number of teacher resignations is—or should be—something that raises a red flag. It is heartening to see local media beginning to see through the glib reassurances of some and Rudolfoexplore the real problems that the new “reform” movement is causing education in our parish.

The KLFY page is a little confusing—the report is broken up into two parts. In the first Espinoza points to testing mandates from the state and from the parish that focus teacher’s attention on making points rather than educating their different students. Even more disturbing is that those teachers who insist on teaching their students as if they are individuals rather than test scores are punished by the grading system that the state has imposed.

ManghamIn the second video retired teacher Mangham speaks plainly about the intimidation that most teachers feel and the absurd idea that the newly mandated curriculum pushed by business interests gives us anything new in regard to “critical thinking.” As she says teachers have long been focused on just that—even, I might add, when the business community was promoting the previous bit of “educational reform” silliness in the form of content-centered curriculum and end-of-course testing that condemned critical thinking.

“School board is correct to oppose state legislation”


The Lafayette Daily Advertiser editorializes in support of the local school board which has taken a stand against 4 of Nancy Landry’s bills and one from Vincent Pierre. The local paper steps through the arguments presented in favor of each and efficiently demolishes them. They are worth a citizen’s review if only in order to remind one how editorials are supposed to be written. I was particularly fond of the following riff concerning “improving voter participation” by moving the school board elections to coincide with the Governor’s race:

theadvertiser…the strategy could backfire.

Opponents of the say school board candidates, who historically don’t have well-financed campaigns, stand a good chance of getting lost on a long ballot.

That’s what Teten refers to as “an election effect called ‘ballot drop-off….'”

“More or less people stop voting or tire of voting after a certain point,” Tetan said. “Or they don’t know the names.”

A possible 10 percent increase in voter participation, coupled with the possibility that the advantage could easily be canceled out by the negative effects of being in a bigger election does not make a convincing argument for moving the election.

We vote to keep things as they are.

The final argument the Advertiser makes agains these bill gets at the most powerful reason for opposing them all:

At the very least these bills represent state intrusion into local matters, a recurring theme of late, it seems.

‘Acadiana Educators React to Common Core Implementation”


Rudolofo EspinozaExcellent video coverage of Acadiana resistance to politically imposed state education “reforms” from KATC. Featuring friend of PPEL Rudi Espinoza and Vermillion Parish Superintendent Jerome Puyau.

Themes include: Common Core failures, excessive testing, teacher dissatisfaction, and firing John White. Lots of quotables. But the Quote of the Day has to be the opening line:

“We spoke with educators who have been warning state officials from the beginning.”


“Bill could stymie charter’s spread”


Mike Hasten, a state beat writer for Gannett, has a piece in the Lafayette Daily Advertiser this morning that is a ray of sunshine for public education in these dark days. RayOfSunshineIn a success for advocates of public education—and PPEL which mounted a campaign of grassroots lobbying from Lafayette—House Bill 703 was successfully voted out of committee. The bill would limit the power of the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to impose charter schools on local school systems that maintain an A, B, or C ranking using the state’s own system. The 8-7 vote was one of the few victories that proponents of local control have had in the session to date and surprised the overconfident advocates of state-mandated charters:

“The vote surprised opponents, including Stafford Palmieri of the governor’s office, the Council for a Better Louisiana and representatives of the Charter School Association, who had successfully gotten the committee to shoot down other bills seeking to limit the creation of charter schools.”

Key to this win was that for perhaps the first time charter school proponents were faced with actually having to deal with the real consequences of the state mandates for successful local schools systems:

Edwards said…”When a charter school opens up, local dollars flow to that school, as well as state dollars” … Answering an argument that schools receive funding for the students who remain, he pointed out that charters draw a few students from numerous classes but schools still have to pay the same for teachers, school maintenance and other costs for the ones that remain.

Kathleen Espionoza The most salient real-word example of a school system harmed by was Lafayette’s. PPEL member Kathleen Espinoza who journeyed down to the capital to speak before the committee is extensively quoted in the article:

Lafayette Parish’s situation was a main focus of the argument for the bill.

Kathleen Espinoza, the parent of public school students and representative of Power of Education Lafayette, said last fall the Lafayette Parish School Board voted 6-2 against creating another charter school. At the time, Lafayette schools had an overall B rating.

The charter founders then went to BESE and got approval 9-2.

“That resulted in a state takeover of five schools,” she said, and “diverts millions of tax dollars of the citizens of Lafayette to for-profit management companies in Florida and Michigan.”

Espinoza said the school board estimates it will have a $7 million shortfall because of the charter.

“That’s $7 million in funds lost that will now require cuts across our system, a system ranked successful by your own accountability system,” she said.

“I know of no other free-market scenario where the new competitor comes in and demands that all of its operating costs be paid by the existing competitor,” Espinoza said. “With a heavy heart, I am beginning to believe the Department of Education doesn’t want the traditional public schools in my parish to succeed and is systematically manipulating its power to engineer the exchange of public capital into the corporate realm.”

To make things worse, she said, the LPSB is being forced to negotiate with another charter provider and if it rejects the application, she’s certain BESE will approve it.

She asked the committee, “Do you favor local autonomy or do you favor the rubber stamp authority of a Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that instead of nurturing our successes seems set on dismantling them in order to advance a political agenda?”

The bill now goes to the House floor for debate.

Kudos to Kathleen!

And make no mistake about it: Lafayette is emerging as a hotbed of opposition to the dismantling of public education. That is a direct result of the uncomfortable fact that the damage being inflicted on Lafayette’s successful school system gives lie to the claim that only weak systems are being targeted. In truth, every public school system in the state is under attack; Lafayette’s travails simply make that undeniable.

Kudo’s as well to the regional representative Dee Richard from Thibodaux who backed Lafayette’s appeal.

Brickbats and hisses to Nancy Landry of Lafayette whose loyalties seem to follow from a particular political agenda instead of the community she represents.

Lagniappe: Join PPEL! Like the PPEL page on Facebook or follow @PPELafayette on twitter.