John White in Lafayette, 9am July 23rd, for first of nine regional LDOE meetings on ESSA: Every Student Succeeds Act.

John White in Lafayette, 9am July 23rd, for first of nine regional LDOE meetings on ESSA: Every Student Succeeds Act.


At 9:00 am on Tuesday July 23rd at Lafayette Middle School, State Superintendent of Education, John White, begins a series of public meetings about ESSA – the Every Student Succeeds Act. The public, including parents, teachers and community members are required to be involved to help build the state’s ESSA compliance plan. This provides the public the opportunity to change the state accountability system, one that is currently almost exclusively driven by standardized test scores.

ESSA, which replaces No Child Left Behind, marks a turning point. There are things that we can do now that we couldn’t do before.

  • We can choose multiple indicators -not just state testing- to demonstrate school quality and student success.
  • We can choose a better way to identify the strength of our schools. A single letter grade – A to F – doesn’t communicate what parents and educators need to know.
  • We can change our response to schools that struggle by involving parents, teachers and the community in determining interventions.
  • We can protect parental choice for children to opt out of state tests without punitive measures for children or schools.
  • We can eliminate the evaluation of teachers based on students’ scores on state tests.

Imagine schools that are measured by access to school support personnel, access to fine arts and foreign language programs, years of experience and expertise of the faculty, bullying prevention methods and positive behavior programs, parent and community involvement, and appropriate assessment programs. All of these opportunities to demonstrate student success and school quality are currently being ignored in Louisiana’s accountability system. ESSA gives us a path to demand that these measures be the standard by which our schools are judged. We can achieve this.

For more information about ESSA and how you can promote change, please click here for A PPEL Guide to ESSA. Print out the guide and share it with friends.


Superintendent White needs to hear from you. Please attend one of these regional meetings:

  • Tuesday, July 26- 9:00, Lafayette Middle School, 1301 W. University Ave., Lafayette
  • Tuesday, July 26- 2:00, Lake Charles Boston Academy of Learning, 1509 Enterprise Blvd. Lake Charles
  • Wednesday, July 27- 9:00, Aiken Virtual Program Building, 2121 Mason St., Alexandria
  • Wednesday, July 27- 2:00, Wanda Gunn Professional Development Auditorium, 1961 Midway, Shreveport
  • Thursday, July 28- 9:00, City of Monroe School Board, 2101 Roselawn Ave., Monroe
  • Friday, July 29- 9:00, McKinley Middle Magnet School, 1550 Eddie Robinson Sr. Dr., Baton Rouge
  • Monday, August 1- 10:00, Terrebonne Parish School Board, 201 Stadium Dr., Houma
  • Tuesday, August 2- 10:00, Fontainebleau High School, 100 Bulldog Dr., Mandeville
  • Tuesday, August 2- 1:00, Woodson/KIPP Central City Academy, 2514 Third St., New Orleans

Each one of the nine meetings begins at either 9:00am, 10:00am or 2:00pm – all times when many busy parents are at work. Superintendent White has said he would be happy to attend other meetings when he is invited. He should be invited back by communities and organizations for day and evening presentations, so more people can provide input. Don’t miss attending – or requesting – a meeting! It is a rare opportunity for the general public to create policy changes at the Louisiana Department of Education that will directly benefit our children.



A PPEL Guide to ESSA: the Every Student Succeeds Act


Please print out this Guide to ESSA, the new federal law that replaces the No Child Left Behind act, and share it with family, friends and co-workers.

Education Week Watch: ‘One App’ Pushback


As corporate-supported K-12 education reformers promote school choice, the concept of ‘single applications’ for all schools within a city or district – traditional, charter, for-profit, voucher, on-line, etc. – is also being promoted.  The New Orleans ‘One App’ single application system is looked upon as a model, despite significant parent criticism.  Boston, MA, and Oakland, CA, are planning to create single-enrollment systems for all traditional public schools and charter schools.  These districts might heed warnings

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Education Week Watch: State Testing + Computers = Poor Scores


Research on learning with paper texts versus computers shows unique strengths for paper. Comparisons of PARCC scores echo those findings.  Scores of students taking PARCC tests on paper were consistently higher than for matched groups of students taking the tests on computers. READ about PARCC score comparisons here:  PARCC Scores Lower on Computer Exam. READ about  research on reading here: The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens. Are school systems

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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

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PPEL’s 2014 Legislative Report Card


Legislative Report Card on PPEL’s legislative priorities – 2014

PPEL heard from Representatives and presented a legislative agenda at our first annual Legislative Breakfast in March. Priority issues included privatization, teacher retention, and accountability systems.  Over two-dozen bills of interest were identified. Of those, only a few were moved out of the House Education Committee and further into the legislative process.  During the session, local governance became an additional legislative priority.

HB 703 Edwards A,B,C districts that deny Type 1 charter school applications not subject to Type 2 appeal at BESE. Yes vote FAILED
HB 995 Williams Provides for teacher retention; teacher evaluations from multiple data sources, including TEAM, portfolio, etc. Yes vote FAILED
HB 1232 Landry Change local governance by providing powers to Superintendents to alter job descriptions and salary scales. No vote FAILED
SB 636 White Change local governance by altering responsibilities of principals, school board, Superintendent, in Baton Rouge. No vote FAILED
HB 786 Landry Change local governance by changing Lafayette parish school board election cycle timing from short Congressional ticket to long Gubernatorial ticket. No vote PASSED Signed into law

House Education Committee voting record on PPEL’s priority bills:

REPRESENTATIVESHouse Education Committee Grade HB703 HB995 HB1232 SB636
PPEL position y y n n
Carter, Stephen D Baton Rouge n y y y
Jefferson, Patrick A Homer y y n n
Bishop, Wesley B New Orleans y n n
Broadwater, Chris F Hammond y y
Burns, Henry L. D Haughton n y y y
Carmody, Thomas F Shreveport n y y
Champagne, Simone B. F Erath n y
Edwards, John Bel A Amite y y n n
Henry, Cameron, R D Metairie y
Hollis, Paul F Covington n y y
Ivey, Barry F Baton Rouge n y y
Landry, Nancy D Lafayette n y* y y
Price, Edward J. A Gonzales y y n n
Reynolds, Eugene B Minden y y n
Richard, Jerome ‘Dee’ B Thibodeaux y y n
Shadoin, Robert D Ruston y y y
Smith, Patricia Haynes A Baton Rouge y y n n
Thompson, Jeff F Bossier City y y
Williams, Alfred A Baton Rouge y y n n

Representatives Patrick Jefferson, John Bel Edwards, Ed Price, Patricia Haynes-Smith, and Alfred Williams receive an “A”, and Rep.s Gene Reynolds and Dee Richard receive a “B”, for upholding legislative priorities that support students, teachers, and local school districts.


The voting record of Representatives in the Lafayette Parish delegation on PPEL’s priority bills plus HB 786:

LAFAYETTE House Delegation Grade HB703 HB995 HB1232 SB636 HB786#
PPEL position y y n n n
Taylor F. Barras F District 48 n n y y
Stuart J. Bishop F District 43 n n y
Nancy Landry F District 31 n n* y y y
Terry C. Landry, Sr. B District 96 y y n n
Jack Montoucet D+ District 42 y n n y
Stephen J. Ortego D+ District 39 y n y
Vincent J. Pierre A District 44 y y n n n
Joel C. Robideaux F District 45 n n y


*  NOTE: Rep. Nancy Landry changed her vote from support in Committee to opposition in the House.

# NOTE: HB 786 came through Governmental Affairs committees, not Education committees.


Representative Vincent Pierre receives an “A” and Rep. Terry Landry receives a “B” for upholding legislative priorities that support students, teachers, and local school districts.

Representatives Taylor Barras, Stuart Bishop, Nancy Landry and Joel Robideaux receive a “F” for abandoning legislative priorities that support students, teachers, and local school districts and instead supporting corporate models, punitive assessments and decreased local control.



Many lesson were learned from PPEL’s first engagement with the legislative session. Effective activism is challenging and the playing field is not level. Opponents of PPEL’s legislative priorities are well-funded and organized – but parents, educators and citizens put up a good fight and will use the lessons learned to become more effective.

Nothing can change without local activists willing to make a real commitment to policies that support students, teachers and local control of public schools.

Thank you to all who made a phone call, sent an email, or had a meeting with a legislator. We hope you were inspired to continue to speak out and express your opinion as a citizen. Ultimately, the citizen’s opinion about the legislators we elect is the opinion that matters.

Look for PPEL’s next Legislative Breakfast in 2015. Don’t miss it!  Stay engaged!

LDOE ‘pitches’ for riches


It is often said that legislatures are bought and paid for. It’s hard for grassroots groups and citizens to be heard over the rumble of the lobbying groups with dollars. It’s not often you find written evidence of who exactly holds the power. While researching the impact of for-profit charter school chains applying to open charter schools in Lafayette Parish in 2013, the Lafayette Parish parent activist group Swamp BESE located a document called the

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Capitol Update – A second hurdle for HB 703 on Wednesday April 30!


Things move fast at the Capitol during the legislative session. HB 703 was set for a floor vote today — and now it’s up in the air – probably to settle back down for a rescheduled floor vote on Wednesday April 30th.

This is a must-win bill.  It’s going to be close. Representative John Bel Edwards’ HB 703 barely passed out of the House Education Committee by a vote of eight to seven.  It must make it through step two: a vote of the full House.

Promoters of national for-profit charter school chains see as essential the state-level override authority to push budget-breaking charter schools onto A, B and C school districts. High-performing districts know the score and do not want these schools. They do not want BESE to have the authority to override taxpayer consent.

We must work for every single vote on this bill.  Each vote of the Acadiana delegation and the New Orleans democrats is a must have.  Please use to locate the Representatives by parish. Call early! Call often! Email, snail-mail, and fax.  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

You can be assured that the for-profit charter school lobby and the business lobby will be out in force to oppose this bill.  CABL, LABI, and the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools tout their 100% record of defeating any real reform that threatens the roll-out of the corporate business model of education. They will fight to preserve that record and to ensure the unchecked spread of the for-profit corporate charter school chains.

Those who value an integrated, effective, and equitable public school system that welcomes all students – regardless of parental support, economic condition, disability, or English-language status, need to fight as hard as those who want to divide our public system into ‘winners’ and ‘losers’.  The lobbyists are well-paid.  But we have cell phones and heart.

Talking points:

  • Stop BESE from redirecting local tax dollars without the consent of voters
  • HB 703 does not stop, close, or harm existing or authorized charters schools, or stop new schools from going to willing districts.
  • HB 703 impacts only Type 1 applications to A, B, or C districts that reject the applicants because the charter model does not fit into the district plan for success.
  • HB 703 rewards high-performing districts and protects their ability to retain and improve their high rating.
  • If a district slips to a C, D or F rating, BESE can authorize Type 2 charters directly into the parish, since C, D, and F is defined as failing. This supports the original intent of the charter school movement: to deliver innovation for at-risk students in failing schools.
  • State law requires that local school boards determine the number and location of schoolhouses. HB 703 guarantees this legal provision for A, B and C districts.

We can’t take HB 703’s success on the House floor for granted. The time is now, and together we can win that vote!

“Groups supporting Common Core out of their element”


Vincent Barrass, a PPEL member, has a guest column in today’s Advertiser. He staunchly defends respecting educators’ special competence in their own field and questions the qualifications of many who pretend to understand the task of educators.

The essay, in its entirety:

Groups supporting Common Core out of their element

In the movie “Network” Peter Finch said a line that has now become immortal: “I’m as mad as hell, and not going to take this anymore.”

Vincent Barras

Vincent Barras

Frankly, that’s me, right now — and here’s why.

The Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce recently listed its priorities for the legislative session, and among them is its support for Common Core.

If I were to write a manual telling doctors how to operate, people would laugh and doctors would rightfully ignore me. I have not attended medical school, nor received the training a doctor needs.

Yet, organization after organization with little or no educational background think they are experts on education. The Council for a Better Louisiana, Stand for Children Louisiana and the Louisiana Association for Business and Industry, just to name a few, have all published their support for Common Core.

Apparently, merely having attended school or college — or simply having a child — affords everyone a seat at the table to determine the future of education. Worse, everyone listens to these organizations and not the teachers.

I am a highly-qualified teacher with two bachelor’s degrees and a masters in history. I was chosen the Outstanding Sophomore, Junior, and Senior in UL’s College of Education, not to mention the Outstanding Graduate of its 1992 Spring Commencement. I have experience writing curricula and have taught Algebra I and II for 23 years, as well as numerous history and English classes. I am an expert on education — not these various groups.

I have a right to explore the qualifications and biases of every organization that supports Common Core. Have they received money from Bill Gates or any of his organizations? Have they teachers who have implemented the Engage New York curricula that was designed to match Common Core? Have they actually read the poorly-written modules we teachers have received or taken one of their confusing tests? Are they experts in the cognitive abilities of young children and adolescents? I suspect the answers to these questions are a resounding “no.”

And I have upsetting news for these organizations who don’t even bother to explore what is in Common Core: The people who wrote it weren’t experts, either. The 27 authors were mostly test-makers, and none were teachers. Why should I give their handiwork any credibility, when they lack the credentials to even be classroom teachers?

So, should any additional organization wish to herald the need for Common Core, I have these words of advice: Unless they are qualified to speak on the subject, it would be best if they were to stick to their own areas of expertise.

— Vincent P. Barras is a Lafayette educator.

Four reasons that Common Core advocates should reconsider their support


By Ann Burruss, parent and educator

Are the Common Core State Standards and accompanying PARCC tests the vanguard for the corporate takeover of public education? Joshua Bleiberg in “Four reasons that critics of Common Core should reconsider their opposition” confirms connections exist between multiple aspects of today’s failed corporate education reforms and support for Common Core. The following are four reasons to reject Bleiberg’s argument and to consider opposing Common Core and PARCC testing.

1) Big data is coming. “Standards will improve how big data works” is suggested by Bleiberg as a reason to support Common Core. Parents don’t want big data to work on or anywhere near their children. Promoting ‘”big data” as a Common Core feature not a bug, shows a stunning lack of awareness or respect for parents’ concerns. Bleiberg writes, “National standards also make it easier to link databases from separate states and districts together, which enables larger data sets.” Large data sets are not necessarily better-used or more valid data sets. States are awash in data today, to little good effect. Accountability and evaluation systems based on a single high-stakes test such as PARCC are invalid indicators of student learning or teacher effectiveness.

2) Market efficiencies enrich corporations. Bleiberg states “Standards also lower the barriers for new companies to develop programs.” In practice the exact opposite is unfolding. CCSS is consolidating curriculum and testing materials. Vast profits will be made by the Common Core curriculum dealers and PARCC testing companies who got in on the ground floor. Benefits to “new companies”? Doubtful.

3) Market efficiencies grow for-profit charter schools. Bleiberg writes “Developers can create a single tool for a national market rather then many tools for every set of standards.” Bleiberg obliquely acknowledges that states have existing standards – but 50 sets of state standards do not provide adequate business opportunities to corporate profit-seekers. CCSS allows charter schools to experience huge efficiencies, allowing them to purchase just one curricula for their multi-state business enterprises, enhancing their business model, which is simply making profits from taxpayer money – money that should got to educating children.

4) New ‘governance’ gets rid of school boards and direct accountability. Bleiberg uses a new buzzword promoted by Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix and Rocketship charter schools: governance. The word ‘governance’ is used by the corporate reformers to promote the removal of local elected school boards. Local governments know their constituents’ needs and are nimble enough to act. Corporatizers prefer appointed boards and unaccountable not-for-profit charter school boards. Hastings has set a national goal of 90% of students enrolled in charter schools by 2030. Elected school boards are seen as a hindrance to the speedy implementation of corporate takeover.

Elected local school boards listen to parents, educators and citizens who are becoming increasingly alarmed by the convergence of corporate interests to ‘create efficiencies’ to capture profit from public education. High education standards are essential to equitable and effective education, but must it be Common Core standards? Bleiberg’s article serves as a warning that the alarm bells ringing over CCSS and PARCC are justified on all fronts: big data, corporate enrichment, for-profit charter schools and governance.