Diagraming the foibles of clowns like John White and Bobby Jindal might be our raison d’etre, we admit. Yet, it goes without saying that there’s an awful lot of elite slobbering over clowns like Jindal and Bloomberg on this issue, and that needs to be held in check.
We don’t suppose that teachers unions want to hear this, but they’ve lost too many battles in this war to be held in any high esteem. We’re not interested in carrying water for well-meaning, but strategically tone-deaf, education unions on this point or any other. We can tell what’s right.
What is clear is that there’s a whole lot of snooty “experts” and “policy wonks” going around slapping each other on the back while slurping big gulps of corporate shill cash. These elitist tools wave around one-pagers on “reform” with key buzzwords they themselves don’t even understand. “Charters,” “Choice,” “Excellence,” “Teacher evaluations,” “Testing,” they exclaim!
How about this buzzword, you human paraquats: POVERTY. Poor kids can’t learn as easily or as thoroughly as rich ones because their lives are messed up by the crushing lack of basic resources. And thanks to other elitist fucktards, austerity is ripping even the most basic sustenance from the mouths of babes. David @ Salon has more:
Reality, though, is finally catching up with the “reform” movement’s propaganda. Withpoverty and inequality intensifying, a conversation about the real problem is finally starting to happen. And the more education “reformers” try to distract from it, the more they will expose the fact that they aren’t driven by concern for kids but by the ugliest kind of greed — the kind that feigns concerns for kids in order to pad the corporate bottom line.
John White is likely to be gone by the end of June but Louisiana will still have its work cut out cleaning up the messes he will leave behind. Some of those messes off the top of my head are:
It’s all about a choice. School choice rings from the hills as the clarion call from reformers. “Parents need a choice,” they say smugly, while counting their private foundation grant cash in their skinny jeans. And who could argue? Choice sounds great. It’s like Burger King: school anyway you want it.
So some parents got a choice. Without information. With smug sloganeering about superior private schools, filled with visions of their children studying philosophy in wood-paneled prep academies. Instead, they got snowed in a White-out:
As Gov. Bobby Jindal tries again to fund his controversial school voucher program, new test scores indicate that many of the current students educated with public money in private schools are not thriving. Or at least they aren’t yet.
Released Wednesday, LEAP scores for third- through eighth-graders show only 40 percent of voucher students scored at or above grade level this past spring. The state average for all students was 69 percent.
For accountability purposes, students attending private schools at taxpayer expense take the same standardized tests as their peers in public schools. In 2011, when the voucher program operated only in New Orleans, students averaged 33 percent proficiency.
Now seven schools in Jefferson and Orleans parishes have results so low — less than 25 percent of voucher students proficient for three years running — that they have been barred from accepting new voucher students in the fall, as per state policy. In Orleans, the schools are Life of Christ Academy, the Upperroom Bible Church Academy, Bishop McManus, Conquering Word Christian Academy Eastbank and Holy Rosary Academy. In Jefferson, they are Faith Christian Academy and Conquering Word Christian Academy.
From failing schools to failing schools. A difference without a distinction. Choosing without a choice. And John White sees the writing on the wall. As the walls of Jindal’s Education reform sandcastle tumble down in the courts and legislature, White is out the door:
Rumors have persisted for several days now that White would be leaving his post at the end of the current legislative session, which must adjourn by June 6.
Those rumors reached a new pitch on Wednesday with word that White would be headed “for Duncanland” in June.
For those unfamiliar with the Obama cabinet, “Duncanland” would be Washington where Arne Duncan serves as Secretary of Education. Before joining the Obama administration, Duncan served as chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools whence controversial former Recovery School District Superintendent Paul Vallas came. White succeeded Vallas as RSD superintendent before being elevated to his current post by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) at the behest of Gov. Bobby Jindal in January of 2012.
BESE President Chas Roemer, contacted about the report that White was headed for Washington, said he had not heard any such report.
To the escape hatches! No ed reformer hack left behind!
Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, Louisiana, because Bobby J’s crackpot voucher scheme just took a death blow from the Louisiana Supreme Court. By a vote of 6-1, the Supreme Court invalidated the voucher payment plan, citing the fact that using MFP funds to pay private school tuition was unconstitutional. Read more:
The key issue is whether the source of public school aid — it is called the Minimum Foundation Program, called MFP — can be used to pay for vouchers, which finance tuition and some mandatory fees.
The ruling struck down the MFP funding mechanism that the Louisiana Legislature overwhelmingly approved last year.
State Superintendent of Education John White said earlier that the voucher aid alone costs about $22 million per year.
The state is facing a $1.3 billion shortfall for the upcoming financial year to maintain aid for state services at current levels.
White has said he is confident that, even if vouchers were struck down, state officials would find a way to continue the aid.
He did not spell out specifics. White is in Washington, D.C. Tuesday.
The ruling said: “We agree with the district court that once funds are dedicated to the state’s Minimum Foundation Program for public education, the constitution prohibits those funds from being expended on the tuition costs of nonpublic schools and nonpublic entities.”
Johnny WHITE is surfing his CV for some new gigs. This ship is going way, way down.
Voucher-proponents are rightly dumbfounded, but insist the state will continue to pay for them. With a $1.3 state budget deficit, you can bet that ain’t going to happen.
Voucher oucher indeed.
Today, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal finally admitted, for the very first time, that the controversial Louisiana Science Education Act, which he signed into law during his first year in office, was designed and intended to allow public schools the ability to teach creationism as legitimate scientific theory.
Jindal made his comments to NBC News correspondent Hoda Kotb, during tail end of an interview at the Education Nation conference in New Orleans.
I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't feeling overwhelmed by all the rapid changes happening in the education sphere. I'm positive I'm not alone in feeling this way - based on the feedback, articles and correspondence I've been receiving from local and national groups and individuals. As I struggled to zero in on a topic where I could help or enlighten the most, something else even more screwed up would be sent to me.
A little over a year ago, The Wall Street Journal published a story extolling Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's ambitious plans for education reform, labeling Jindal's sweeping set of proposals his "moon shot." The term "moon shot" was intended as a compliment toward Jindal and a slight dig at Newt Gingrich, who was then in the midst of his failed campaign for President and who had just declared his support for a colony on the moon.
Louisiana’s chapter of New Leaders Council just announced the 2013 class of Fellows for what will be their 4th annual statewide institute. The impressive, diverse group includes educators, attorneys, business and non-profit leaders, public servants, activists and social entrepreneurs.
Since 2010, NLC has conducted progressive leadership training for small groups of emerging young leaders. There is a rigorous selection process for the free program which is part of national network of chapters. In the Institute, Fellows meet monthly over five weekends to learn “political entrepreneur” skills – which emphasizes the application of risk-taking in the civic arena to achieve political goals.
NLC has a likewise impressive list of backers and alumni. The national alumni page includes current and aspiring elected officials, including State Representative Ted James of Baton Rouge who was part of the inaugural Louisiana class in 2010. Donors include former Governor Kathleen Blanco who also served as the chapter’s initial honorary co-chair.
While NLC has been operating across the country quietly since 2005, people are starting to take notice. In fact, last Sunday, the discussion on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry show included New Leaders Council. Washington Monthly also published an article in September that sums up NLC’s work well:
The NLC is strikingly different from the typical DC think tank or policy shop focused on electioneering or fighting in the cable news trenches. For the last six years, its main operation is to run a kind of mini-graduate school in cities across the country for up-and-coming progressive political entrepreneurs, or “Fellows,” as they call them. In five weekends over five months, a class of around twenty fellows take classes in things like business, media and communications, campaign management, or political strategy. These fellows then serve as a network of communication and support as they move into their careers throughout the country.
And the NLC’s goal is not just to build a stable of potential congressional candidates—it has its eyes on every potential position of influence nationwide: city councils and school boards, boards and chairmanships of corporations, and of course state and national elected offices. The idea is to “infiltrate and take over all the levers of power—public and private, national and local,” says the NLC’s Executive Director Mark Riddle.
While local media and political commentators write off Louisiana as a permanent conservative stronghold, it will be interesting to see what kind of impact progressive groups like New Leaders Council can have.
A national magazine takes a close look at the bizarre coincidence that some of America’s richest people, while not entranced enough to LIVE in Louisiana, are sufficiently interested in our education system to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to local education campaigns and political action committees.
It appears that the nation’s one-percenters are obsessed with poor Louisiana’s “experimental” education system. Like any good patricians, they sprinkle some (to them) insignificant amounts of cash toward this grand experiment that is our children’s future:
Last fall, a coterie of extremely wealthy billionaires, among them New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, turned the races for unpaid positions on the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) into some of the most expensive in the state’s history. Seven pro-education “reform” candidates for the BESE outraised eight candidates endorsed by the teacher’s unions by $2,386,768 to $199,878, a ratio of nearly twelve to one. In just one of these races, the executive director of Teach for America Greater New Orleans-Louisiana Delta, Kira Orange Jones, outspent attorney Louella Givens, who was endorsed by the state’s main teacher’s unions, by more than thirty-four to one: $472,382 to $13,815.
It turns out that two practical considerations drive this spending:
- Louisiana is a “cheap” state to play in. Politics might seem expensive here to the regular joe, but compared to TV ad rates in places like Florida or California, Louisiana is basically the low rent district. Furthermore, the counter-veiling forces, including teachers’ unions and advocacy groups, are basically not equipped to respond. They are broke and largely broken in the public opinion.
- Bobby Jindal has declared full-scale, no-holds-barred war on education and is unconstrained in his zeal to attempt total transformation. In other words, there are zero political obstacles in Louisiana for his agenda. Therefore, he can adopt as extreme agenda as possible, which only bolsters his standing in his ever-lasting run for another, higher office.
Read the whole article here.
As Bobby Jindal basks in the glow of VP speculation, his school voucher plan continues to garner national, as well – just not the positive kind.
From a Washington Post blog:
One of those schools is the church-affiliated New Living Word School, which was approved to increase its student enrollment from 122 to 315 — even though it doesn’t have the space, computers or the teachers to handle the students, according to the News-Star.
This means that this school will have 100 more voucher slots than any other school in Louisiana. The state Department of Education chose schools to qualify for vouchers without visiting any campuses.
According to the News-Star, Rev. Jerry Baldwin, the school’s principal and pastor of New Living Word Ministries, said that construction will begin this summer on a metal school building though he isn’t sure when it will be done. Current students now attend class in rooms used by the church’s Sunday school. If the new building is finished by the fall, he said, new students can hold class in the church gym.
The school’s mission, according to its Web site, is: “The mission of NLWM School is to provide a foundation built on biblical principles that will create an atmosphere for scholastic advancement and spiritual development.”
The school, Baldwin was quoted as saying, is moving forward “on faith.”
Education historian Diane Ravitch also reported on her blog that another school, the Eternity Christian Academy in Calcasieu Parish, will benefit from the voucher program. It now enrolls 14 students but has said it will take in 135 new students, a move that will result in some $1 million in taxpayer funds.