The Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) must decide how to approach 1) being sued by 17 legislators; 2) being supported in a pro-Common Core (CCSS) lawsuit filed chiefly by charter school supporters and backed by “choice” money but wanting to enforce CC as the single “choice” for Louisiana schools, and 3) whether to sue in outright defiance of the Division of Administration’s (DOA) refusal to approve or to “sue for the right to sue” given Governor Bobby Jindal’s, the Office of Contractual Renewal’s (OCR) and DOA’s auditing and limiting BESE/LDOE assessment contracts and funding.
(I know. Confusing. Take a deep breath then reread what I wrote above.)
Thus, BESE President Chas Roemer has scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday, July 29, 2014, at 11 a.m., at the Claiborne Building in Baton Rouge.
The agenda addresses four items, three of which hinge upon suing or being sued.
The agenda also includes a charter school approval item:
3. Items for Consideration
3.1. Consideration of Louisiana State Representatives, James
Armes, et al., v. State of Louisiana, et al., 19th Judicial District
Court, Docket No. 632,150, Section 22
3.2. Consideration of Navis Hill, et al., v. Louisiana State
Governor, et al., 19th Judicial District Court, Docket No.
621,170, Section 27
3.3. Consideration of a discussion regarding additional options
related to Executive Order No. BJ 2014-7
3.4. Consideration of the Type 2 charter for Milestone SABIS
Academy of New Orleans previously approved for renewal in
Let the lawsuits (and associated subpoenas) fly!
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So, I thought that there might be more lawsuits to add to the two that were filed on July 21 and 22, one against the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) by 17 lawmakers regarding the slighting of proper procedure for Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in July 2010, and one against the governor and Division of Administration (DOA) in an effort to keep Louisiana in CCSS and (especially) its associated consortium-created tests via the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).
It appears that it might be the latter.
On July 24, 2014, the Jindal administration denied BESE approval to secure legal representation that could involve BESE’s suing Governor Jindal.
In short, the Jindal administration will not approve counsel for one part of the state to sue another part of he state. As the Times-Picayune reports:
The Jindal administration has said it cannot let the state school board hire an outside lawyer specifically to try and win a legal case against another part of the state government. “The code of ethics prohibits [the state school board] from taking an adverse action against the state,” said Kristy Nichols, the governor’s chief administrator.
So, for what can BESE sue? AP News offers the following clarification:
The education board voted this month to hire a law firm that has agreed to represent it for free. But in a complication, state law has a provision requiring boards that hire outside lawyers to get approval from the attorney general and the governor.
The attorney general’s office approved the contract. It was submitted to Jindal’s Division of Administration this week, though Roemer and Education Superintendent John White question whether such approval was needed. [Emphasis added.]
Of course they do. That’s what led to testing contract suspension– BESE and LDOE’s perception that they are the exception to procedure. Continuing with the AP clarification:
Nichols sent a letter Thursday to White and Roemer, requesting more information and saying she wanted to talk with them about “the intent of contract.”
“As a general minimum guideline, counsel must affirm it is not representing any party in an action adverse to the State,” she wrote. …
In an interview, Nichols said if the education board wants to hire lawyers to clarify issues with contracting law, the Jindal administration would approve the contract. But she said if the intent is to go further and sue the governor, her office won’t approve it. [Emphasis added.]
And so, it seems that BESE President Chas Roemer has decided that “suing for the right to sue” is the course he is prepared to follow. As AP News reports:
“If they want to deny our right to counsel, we’ll be glad to go to court on that issue alone. That’s not right. They act like bullies. They’ve got a long track record of doing so. And we won’t be bullied,” Roemer said. …
“We don’t think [Nichols'] opinion makes any difference in our plans,” Roemer said. “You can sue the king but only if the king approves? I don’t think so.” [Emphasis added.]
Suddenly I am expecting to hear an audience chanting, “Jerry! Jerry!!”
And so, this is where Louisiana education is on July 24, 2014, with BESE preparing to sue for the right to sue the governor.
I wonder if there is something on the books somewhere that might require indignant Roemer to sue for the right to sue for the right to sue….
It’s not a typo.
Meanwhile, also on July 24, White told Louisiana district superintendents that he plans to have a testing plan in place no matter the outcome of the August 4, 2014, hearing scheduled for the pro-CCSS lawsuit against Jindal and DOA. Again from AP News:
Parents and teachers who support Common Core sued Jindal this week, accusing him of illegally meddling in education policy in violation of the Louisiana Constitution.
A hearing in the case is scheduled for Aug. 4. White told school superintendents Thursday that he will have a standardized testing plan for schools within two weeks of whatever decision is handed down at the hearing.
I find it curious that regardless of the August 4th outcome, White says he will have “a standardized testing plan” within two weeks.
Just remember: Having “a plan” is not the same as having the ability to efficiently and effectively institute a competent plan.
Just don’t go accusing White of competence. He and Roemer won’t stand for it.
Stay tuned, Louisiana. The launch of the 2014-15 school year promises to be an adventure.
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In May 2009, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and then-State Superintendent Paul Pastorek signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to commit Louisiana to be “state led” and participate in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative, a show that the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) had actually “initiated.”
On June 2, 2010, CCSS was officially completed and released to the public.
One month later, on July 01, 2010, the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) recorded in its minutes that BESE adopted CCSS.
The Louisiana Register is a monthly publication which provides an access to the certified regulations and legal notices issued by the executive branch of the state government. All of these go through the formal rulemaking process.
For four years, this sketchy means of CCSS (and by extension, PARCC) “adoption” remained unquestioned, for the honeymoon was still on, with the governor, BESE, and the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) all holding hands as they sat on the same side of the pro-CCSS/PARCC table.
I guess that BESE and LDOE never thought they’d see the day that the governor would set himself at odds with the CCSS/PARCC plan for Louisiana. Otherwise, BESE and LDOE might have taken just a smidge more care in making sure that CCSS was adopted and PARCC tests procured according to proper administrative procedure.
However, that day did come, and the honeymoon did end on June 18, 2014, the day that Jindal announced his plan to drop PARCC and to cancel Louisiana’s CCSS MOU. The real sting came on that same day with the Division of Administration’s (DOA) Office of Contractual Renewal (OCR) beginning its investigation into BESE’s/LDOE’s procurement of Louisiana assessments– and freezing funding for 2014-15 tests.
It’s one thing to know the marriage is over. It’s quite another to have the bank account frozen on the same day.
Now, it came as no surprise that both the BESE majority and State Superintendent John White turned their attention to possible legal action against Jindal. However, as of July 22, 2014, BESE and LDOE have not sued, though they have been given the okay to do so by Attorney General Buddy Caldwell. Still, they might have to ask Jindal’s DOA for permission to sue the governor, and that’s just awkward.
Frankly, at this point, I think Jindal would give the go-ahead if for no other reason than to be able to have his lawyers subpoena documents from John White’s dysfunctional lair of an LDOE.
I want to see White served some subpoenas. I have a birthday coming in a couple of weeks. I would consider such news a real present.
Still, no lawsuit from BESE and LDOE yet. But don’t you know, in the past two days, we’ve had two lawsuits on the CCSS/PARCC issue.
This is what happens when externally-prompted “state led” goes sour.
On July 21, 2014, 17 legislators filed a suit in Louisiana’s 19th Judicial District Court against BESE and LDOE for neglecting to follow proper procedure in adopting CCSS. White and the BESE majority responded with this memo stating that BESE and LDOE do not have to adhere to administrative procedures for CCSS adoption.
Case settled, right?
It seems that Representative Brett Geymann has responded to White’s claims of being “above” administrative procedures. Geymann maintains that BESE/LDOE are not excused from administrative procedure in adopting standards and that previously standards adoption adhered to administrative procedure. (Read Geymann’s point-by-point “facts and clarity” to White here: Geymann to White Facts and Clarity).
It seems that District Judge Tim Kelley is assigned to hear the Geymann et al. suit. In December 2012, it was Kelley who ruled Louisiana vouchers unconstitutional.
So, that’s one lawsuit.
The second lawsuit, filed on July 22, 2014, also in the 19th Judicial District Court, is by a pro-CCSS coalition that includes the charter management group, Choice Foundation.
The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) is paying for this lawsuit. BAEO shares a chapter with Parent Revolution in my book, A Chronicle of Echoes (see pages 321-327). BAEO is well supported by so-called “reformer” cash, including money from Broad, Gates, and Walton, and it promotes the privatization of public education (the “educational options” are vouchers and charters)– and BAEO loves CCSS.
The BAEO-funded lawsuit alleges that Jindal’s “accusations” regarding “BESE and its agents’ … procurement of contracts… are unfounded and incorrect” and that the “allegations” are “false.”
Read here for DOA’s Preliminary Review findings on the makeshift job that White offered as his effort to “arrange” Louisiana assessment contracts.
So, there we have it: Two lawsuits in two days.
School starts in two weeks. Surely that is time for at least another couple of lawsuits to add to the list. And surely we are overdue for at least one counter-suit.
No problem. No matter how many CCSS-related lawsuits are filed by August 4th, I will return to school, and I will teach.
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On Sunday, July 20, 2014, I took the day off from writing. No book editing; no blogging.
I think I have done so only for one other day since May.
Instead, I read a book for the sheer enjoyment of reading. I chose my all-time favorite, a work of fiction by C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce.
In the preface, Lewis makes the following statement:
A wrong sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on.
And so it is with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). CCSS was a train wreck waiting to occur from inception (see here, as well). Thus, to borrow Lewis’ math analogy, the CCSS error occurred in the planning stages. To try to “correct” CCSS at any subsequent point is an utter waste.
When 46 governors and state superintendents decided in 2009 to sign their states up for CCSS, not only did they have no idea what the final product would be; they had no clue concerning the public uproar that would ensue nationally over this supposed “state led” CCSS and its associated assessments.
Let us examine the July 21, 2014, condition of said “uproar.”
Common Core Reflux
CCSS is educational digestive upset. For example, consider the battle over control of the senate in New York state: A powerful driving force is public displeasure over CCSS– not CCSS implementation, either– CCSS existence.
And what of the rest of the 45 states plus DC supposedly committed to CCSS?
Add to that US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s threat to withdraw Indiana’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver if he does not approve of Indiana’s state standards.
South Carolina: On May 30, 2014, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed legislation to replace CCSS with committee-created state standards. However, CCSS is to remain in place for the 2014-15 school year. We will have to wait to see how this turns out.
Oklahoma: On June 5, 2014, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed legislation repealing CCSS. Until new standards and assessments are in place, Oklahoma will return to its pre-CCSS standards. Duncan– who insists that CCSS is not a federal program– criticized Fallin for the CCSS repeal and hinted at NCLB waiver issues for Oklahoma. Fallin responded to Duncan’s criticism, renaming federal “assistance” as “coercion.”
Louisiana: On June 18, 2014, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal canceled the CCSS MOU (memorandum of understanding) and pulled Louisiana out of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing consortium. He also called for investigation into Louisiana assessment contracts. The state board of education (BESE) and state superintendent, John White, are fighting Jindal on both CCSS and PARCC removal.
Prior to his moving to remove Louisiana from PARCC and CCSS, Jindal hoped that the Louisiana legislature would do so.
It was not to be.
As of June 18, 2014, BESE and the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) have their assessment contracts frozen by Louisiana’s Division of Administration (DOA). As of this moment, Louisiana has no assessments for the 2014-15 school year. (Click here for an update of the situation as of July 18, 2014).
Though a BESE majority and White maintain that Louisiana is still in CCSS, the Louisiana register fails to include the specific naming of either CCSS or PARCC as a mandated component of Louisiana K-12 public education. This failure to include specific language is a major opening for a lawsuit against BESE for improper procedure regarding CCSS adoption.
NOTE: Even as I was drafting this post, such a lawsuit has indeed come to pass. As of July 21, 2014, 17 Louisiana legislators are suing BESE and LDOE for improper adoption of CCSS. BESE (the majority) and LDOE responded with this memo, in which they appear to conveniently confuse the terms “national standards” with “nationally recognized standards.” The two terms are not the same, even though BESE (the majority) and LDOE would like for them to be.
Three BESE members agree that proper procedure was not followed and therefore support the July 21, 2014, lawsuit against BESE and LDOE.
Being “state led” from the top down gets messy.
Missouri: On July 14, 2014, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon became the first Democratic governor to sign legislation for creation of work groups to write standards in four subjects, including English and math. CCSS will remain in place until 2016– and possibly beyond.
The legislation specifies that “active classroom teachers shall constitute the majority of each work group” and “shall be selected by professional teachers’ organizations of the state.” The state board of education will be allowed to appoint teachers who are not members of Missouri professional teacher organizations.
One of the risks of the rewrite– especially given that CCSS will remain in place for years until it is completed– is that CCSS could be written into the “new” standards.
Another issue with this plan is that the “professional teachers’ organizations” can drive this bus back to CCSS if they so desire based upon their appointment choices.
North Carolina: In a move similar to that of South Carolina, as reported on July 16, 2014, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory agreed to sign into law a compromise bill that leaves CCSS in place while a committee rewrites North Carolina’s state standards:
The bill repeals Common Core for the state’s K-12 standards and directs the State Board of Education to come up with new ones. A new standards advisory commission would be formed to make recommendations to the board. The commission would be made up of 11 members, some appointed by legislative leaders, one by the governor and others by the State Board of Education.
Common Core, which schools began testing two years ago, would remain in place until the new standards are completed.
Wisconsin: On July 17, 2014, in an effort resembling that of Louisiana Governor Jindal, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has formally asked the Wisconsin state legislature to remove Wisconsin from CCSS. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Madison — Republican Gov. Scott Walker said Thursday he wants Wisconsin to repeal the Common Core education standards it has adopted along with most other states, making his strongest statement on the issue yet.
“Today, I call on the members of the state Legislature to pass a bill in early January to repeal Common Core and replace it with standards set by people in Wisconsin,” Walker said in a written statement.
The declaration comes after months of virtually no public debate among Wisconsin lawmakers on the standards; earlier this year, a proposal in the Legislature to undo them went nowhere, with Walker saying little.
As noted above in regards to the NY state senate races, CCSS has become a major political issue– especially for those vying for election or re-election.
The Guvnuhs Just Ain’t So Sure No Mo’
Years ago, the nation’s governors were virtually unified in their promotion of CCSS.
Times, they are a-changin’.
Consider the mood at the June 2014, National Governors Association (NGA) convention in Nashville, as noted in the July 11, 2014, Wall Street Journal:
NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The National Governors Association was one of the founders of Common Core, a set of academic standards aimed at raising student achievement. But as Democratic and Republican governors gathered here for summer meetings, Common Core wasn’t on the official agenda, a sign of how the bipartisan idea has become a political minefield. …
Now, the governors’ group is staying out of the fray as states decide how to implement the Common Core into curriculum and whether to offer tests aligned to the new standards. …
Complicating the issue is that both political parties are internally split over Common Core, making it harder for governors to find safe ground, especially if they are eyeing presidential bids in 2016. [Emphasis added.]
Ironic how it takes an upcoming presidential election to keep NGA “out of the fray as states decide.”
Recall that it was the upcoming 2008 presidential race that placed NCLB reauthorization “out of the fray.”
When Oklahoma Governor Fallin signed to repeal CCSS, US Secretary of Education Duncan dismissed her decision as “politics.”
When Louisiana Governor Jindal turned against CCSS, BESE President Chas Roemer called Jindal’s decision, “presidential politics.”
Of course it is. Funny how it wasn’t “politics” when 46 states and three territories had signed on with NGA and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in 2009 for an as-of-yet unwritten CCSS (and as-of-yet unwritten, federally-funded, consortia-created CCSS assessments) that was supposedly “state led” and that “just happened” to be connected to an upcoming federal Race to the Top. It’s all right here in this 2009 NGA symposium report. Here is an excerpt:
At the Symposium, Secretary Duncan made an important announcement regarding these funds: $350 million of the Race to the Top funds has been earmarked to support the development of high-quality common assessments. With 46 states and three territories already signed on to the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association-led initiative to develop a set of common core standards that are fewer, clearer, and higher, this announcement was greeted enthusiastically by Symposium participants.
Yep. No “politics” then, in June 2009. Just now, in summer 2014.
How about those federally funded consortia, PARCC, and Smarter Balanced (SBAC)? How are they faring as of July 21, 2014?
PARCC and SBAC
In September 2010, when Duncan awarded $330 million to PARCC ($170 million) and SBAC ($160 million), according to the USDOE press release, the following states were signed on for each of the two consortia:
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers is a coalition of 26 states including AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, MS, ND, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC and TN.
The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium is a coalition of 31 states including AL, CO, CT, DE, GA, HI, IA, ID, KS, KY, ME, MI, MO, MT, NC, ND, NH, NJ, NM, NV, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, UT, VT, WA, WI, and WV.
In 2010, some CCSS states had not yet decided upon a single consortium, and they did not know which consortia USDOE would approve for funding; so, 12 states belonged to both PARCC and SBAC: Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.
From the outset, PARCC was at a disadvantage since it started with only 25 states and DC (as compared to SBAC’s 31 states).
Let us fast forward to July 2014, when not only have all overlapping states decided upon a single consortium, but also a time when some states have dropped the consortia altogether.
As of July 2014, PARCC appears to have been hit the hardest. At the time of its US Department of Education grant award in September 2010, PARCC consisted of 25 states and DC. In order to qualify for the total $186 million ($170 million plus $16 million toward CCSS and PARCC implementation), PARCC must consist of 15 states, five of which must be “governing” states (see page 14 of this 250-page application).
In September 2010, PARCC’s governing states were Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and also DC.
CORRECTION 07-22-14: In July 2014, the PARCC website 14 governing states. However, not all (i.e., Indiana and Louisiana) continue to belong to PARCC.
Even though the PARCC continues to list 14 states and DC as consortium members, it must be doing so to try to fool Uncle Sam. Of the 14 states plus DC listed, Indiana has dropped out, as has Louisiana. It appears that Pennsylvania has also exited both PARCC and SBAC.
PARCC is below the federal 15-state requirement. Wonder what Arne will do? He loves assessments, and especially consortium assessments, so I’m wondering if he will let PARCC slide by as a means of trying to Save the Point of Having a Common Core.
On to SBAC.
USDOE funded SBAC $160 million, plus that additional $16 million for CCSS and PARCC implementation.
In 2010, SBAC started with 31 states, 17 of which were designated as governing states (see page 12 of this 200-page application). Recall that 12 states also had overlapping membership in PARCC; so, it was expected that SBAC might lose some member states.
As of July 21, 2014, SBAC notes 22 states on its website, plus the US Virgin Islands. SBAC is still including Pennsylvania, but as an “advisory state” even though Pennsylvania appears to have exited. The remaining 21 states are listed as SBAC governing states.
SBAC has not dipped down below the 15-state mark as has PARCC.
I wonder, since the nation has been Racing to the Top of somewhere, are the two consortia in a competition of their own? Sort of a Survivor, Consortium Edition?
We’ll just have to keep watching.
I realize that what I have posted above does not cover the continued brewings over CCSS and PARCC/SBAC in some states. What I have tried to capture were definite or impending repeals of CCSS and exits from the associated consortia. If I have missed something, please let me know in the comments section of this post.
The “voluntary” cookie is crumbling as truly-forced cookies are wont to do.
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So much has transpired in the situation regarding the state of Louisiana education for 2014-15. For those attempting to keep up with the situation, let me briefly summarize:
On June 18, 2014, Governor Bobby Jindal declared that he wanted Louisiana out of both the Partnership for Assessment of College and Careers (PARCC) consortium (the now-nonprofit that is responsible for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) tests) and CCSS itself.
In order to release Louisiana from both PARCC and CCSS, Jindal had the Office of Contractual Renewal (OCR) (part of the Division of Administration–DOA) begin an investigation into the assessment contracts that the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) supposedly had for PARCC tests. OCR froze LDOE spending on assessments at that time.
As it turns out, LDOE has no direct and properly-procured contract for PARCC tests for 2014-15. So, the Division of Administration (DOA) began an investigation into LDOE assessment contracts.
Meanwhile, on July 1, 2014, the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) held a special meeting, the apparent goal of which was to “explore” suing the governor for interfering in the BESE business of PARCC and CCSS.
Not all BESE members wanted to turn attention to suing Jindal. One of the outcomes of the July 1, 2014, meeting was a resolution by BESE member Jane Smith that Louisiana State Superintendent John White and Governor Jindal meet prior to any decision to file suit and that White report back to the full board. Her resolution passed. Smith suggested that the meeting be on July 18, 2014. The meeting was scheduled for July 17, 2014.
BESE member James Garvey also proposed that BESE investigate legal action. His resolution passed.
On July 2, 2014, DOA Commissioner Kristy Nichol supported a decision by OCR Interim Director Pamela Barfay Rice to restrict any non-OCR-approved BESE contracts or LDOE contracts to $2000.
The pressure is on the BESE majority and White.
On July 10, 2014, three BESE members (President Chas Roemer, VP James Garvey, and Secretary Holly Boffy) decided to “offer” Jindal the 2014-15 assessment option of using “free” PARCC questions as part of Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) tests for 2014-15. The trio wrote that in order to do so, DOA/OCR would have to unfreeze LDOE spending on assessments.
Within hours, Jindal said no to that “offer.”
On July 16, 2014, the same three BESE members– Roemer, Garvey, and Boffy– offered a second plan to Jindal, this time agreeing to undergo new procurement for the 2014-15 assessments. DOA Commissioner Nichol made it clear that any solicitation for Louisiana assessments would be done via a “team” to oversee the procurement process.
In the Roemer-Garvey-Boffy July 16 letter, Roemer tries to invite himself to the meeting between White and Jindal.
Roemer was not allowed to attend.
Also on July 16, 2014, DOA released its Preliminary Review findings regarding LDOE testing contracts. The findings highlight numerous issues, including LDOE’s not being forthcoming with requested documentation.
On July 17, 2014, three more BESE members– Smith, Lottie Beebe, and Carolyn Hill– publicly objected to Roemer, Garvey, and Boffy’s making the governor “offers” in a manner that makes it appear that the entire BESE board approves– and that without scheduling special meetings to discuss the issue prior to sending “offers” on letters using BESE letterhead.
The meeting between White and Jindal also transpired as planned on July 17, 2014. No agreement came from their meeting. Regarding the meeting, White stated that “we (the BESE majority and White) need legal clarity” (yep he used that word).
Regarding the July 17, 2014, meeting between, Jindal and White, Jindal’s Chief of Staff Kyle Plotkin noted that Jindal told White of the history of Louisiana corruption in politics and that the law would be followed regarding assessment contracts.
In other words, White (with apparent BESE majority support) really did a number with rigging assessment contracts, and all involved know as much whether all involved want to publicly admit it.
It seems that White also spoke briefly before the cameras on July 17. No clarity here. (Heh, heh, heh….)
Here is White’s 07-18-14 memo to BESE regarding his meeting with Jindal.
Also worthy of note: This week, Attorney General Buddy Caldwell approved BESE’s request to seek outside counsel regarding suing the governor. However, as Will Sentell of the Advocate reports, DOA might still need to approve:
BESE President Chas Roemer, who lives in Baton Rouge, said earlier this week that Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s office has approved Preis Gordon APLC, in Baton Rouge, to do the work without charge.
However, the hiring may require the approval of Jindal’s Division of Administration.
ADDENDUM 07-19: Excellent debriefing article on given BESE member positions following the White/Jindal meeting.
Whether or not Jindal’s DOA will approve to have Jindal sued remains to be seen. However, what is clear is that if BESE sues Jindal, White better be prepared to fork over any subpoenaed documents that he is currently withholding.
White being forced by court order to surrender documents….
That might just make a lawsuit both worthwhile and fun to watch.
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On July 15, 2014, California attorney Kathleen Carroll posted a piece on the City Watch LA blog entitled, When Did Teacher Unions Decide to “Turn”… Against Collective Bargaining Rights? Based upon emails I have received referencing this same piece, it appears that Carroll first publicized this piece on July 12, 2012 (though possibly before).
Also on July 15, 2014, the Carroll post was featured on Cambridge College professor Jim Horn’s blog, Schools Matter. In his posting, Horn introduces the Carroll post with a refocusing of attention on educational historian Diane Ravitch, as evidenced in his title, Ravitch Lashes Out at Union Misleadership Critique.
Both posts purport to address issues of corruption related to teacher union officials. While some of their argument is valid, much of it is distorted and strays notably from solid research and reporting procedure.
In this post, I will address issues with both the Carroll and Horn posts, of which there are a number in total. I will begin with the the Carroll post.
Carroll’s Link-lacking TURN Post
The first issue I notice with the Carroll post is an amazing lack of linked evidence to support the numerous points she attempts to demonstrate. Indeed, the entire 1,600-word post includes only a single link. Carroll claims to offer readers evidence of corruption, yet she stops short of providing the bedrock upon which she supposedly established her arguments.
Not only is this unacceptable– it is a red flag waving to anyone with research experience.
Thus, any linking I include in my post discussing Carroll’s assertions I had to locate on my own.
Let us begin with what appears to be the thesis of Carroll’s post:
…What is missing from the debate is the fact that teacher union officials themselves are active participants in the scheme to monetize and profit from the public education system.
Carroll is concerned about corruption among teacher union leadership.
Next, Carroll offers some history on unions (to which her only link in the post refers), including the establishing of the Teacher Union Reform Network (TURN). Here is the TURN mission statement as it was recorded on November 9, 2005:
Teacher unions must provide leadership for the collective voice of their members. Teacher unions have a responsibility to students, their families, and to the broader society. Teacher unions are committed to public education as a vital element of our democracy. What unites these responsibilities is our commitment to help all children learn.
We affirm the union’s responsibility to collaborate with other stakeholders in public education and to seek consistently higher levels of student achievement by:
Improving continuously the quality of teaching.
Promoting in public education and in the union democratic dynamics, fairness, and due process for all.
Seeking to expand the scope of collective bargaining to include instructional and professional issues.
Improving on an ongoing basis the terms and conditions under which both adults and children work and learn.
It is the same mission statement as as recorded on the TURN website today.
In his 2010 “brief history” of unions and school reform, Dale Mezzacappa writes the following about TURN:
1996 A group of NEA and AFT locals formed the Teacher Union Reform Network (TURN) with the goal of promoting education reform to the top of the union agenda.
Though was the mid-1990s and the term “education reform” did not have the same overt privatization bent that it does in 2014, it is clear from reading other information in Mezzacappa’s post that TURN was intended to promote so-called “education reforms” such as basing teacher evaluations upon student “performance” and replacing seniority-based pay with “pay for performance.”
Some Recent TURN Donors–via CEC
Carroll calls TURN a “nonprofit”; however, there is no record of TURN as ever registering as a nonprofit. It is a network. On its 2011 990, the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59 identifies itself as “founding members” of TURN– the network.
On the Gates grants search engine site, a search for “teacher union reform network” yields the result of two nebulously-worded grants totaling $3.5 million paid to the Consortium for Educational Change (CEC), a nonprofit established in February 1999.
Date: October 2011
Purpose: to work with regional Teacher Union Reform Networks to collaboratively engage teachers, their unions, and school and district administrators in issues that impact teaching and learning
Date: October 2013
Purpose: to support the regional Teacher Union Reform Networks (TURN) in advancing teaching and learning through labor-management collaboration
Based upon the Gates grant wording, it appears that much of the TURN work happens regionally.
If the wording of the Gates grants was nebulous, the mission statement on CEC’s 2012 990 is even cloudier:
Facilitation of training programs with school districts to develop their capabilities.
According to the CEC 2012 990, CEC’s end of year (July 2011 to June 2012) assets were $3 million. It has a board of eight individuals working either 10 or 20 hours a week– yet no one is drawing a dime in compensation.
For a listing of CEC staff, click here.
Carroll notes that TURN is led by American Federation of Teachers (AFT) VP Adam Urbanski. Urbanski is not a member of the CEC board, and it is the CEC that directly received the Gates funding for regional TURN. This, teasing out the funding web is a bit challenging.
Other CEC funders include the Joyce Foundation ($200,000 in FY2012) and the GE Foundation ($855,452 in 2012). The Walton Family Foundation’s 2012 990 indicates no payments to CEC, or to “teacher union reform network” or “TURN,” nor does the Broad Foundation’s 2012 990.
I used 2012 990s because these are the most recent that are publicly accessible. If one wants a sense of the current corporate reform dollars influencing TURN via CEC, what I have above appears to be the story.
TURN definitely has a corporate-reform bent. I am glad to see no current Walton money paid to TURN; the Waltons are a forceful anti-union family. (I discuss this in chapter 23 of my book, A Chronicle of Echoes.)
National TURN Convention Speakers
Carroll next turns (pardon the pun) her attention to Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis for Lewis’ speaking at TURN in 2012. Both Lewis and visiting Harvard professor Pasi Sahlberg spoke in October 2012 at the national TURN meeting. They compared education in Chicago and Finland.
I asked Lewis if she was paid an honorarium for speaking at TURN. She wrote that she did not think so, that she recalled having her hotel and flight paid for. She is on vacation in Hawaii and has no internet access except her iPhone. Here is what Lewis offers:
If I got one, it was between 500-1000. I usually give those to the student assistance fund. We provide eyeglasses, hearing aids, and a small clothing stipend.
I also asked for a copy of her speech. She responded as follows in a Facebook message to me on July 16, 2014:
I don’t usually write speeches. I read the room then speak from the heart. Pasi Sahlberg spoke that date. If you have to take a swipe at me, it’s OK.
I assured her that I did not plan to “take a swipe.” But Lewis knows how being in the public eye works; she was willing to take the hit in light of her having no detailed evidence to provide for me.
Carroll takes issue with Lewis’ speaking at TURN. I do not.
Carroll also takes issue with Ravitch, teacher and author Deborah Meier, and Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond for their speaking at the national TURN convention in 2013. Though Carroll purports to focus on issues related to “union leadership,” none of these three are union leaders. However, she does use the leapfrog logic that since the AFT President Randi Weingarten had ties to the Broad Foundation in 2009, and that since Broad utilizes “union busting tactics,” that Ravitch’s speaking at TURN in 2013 was suspect.
This is the point at which Carroll does indeed “smear” Ravitch via utter speculation about Ravitch’s taking “privatizer money” to speak at the 2013 TURN convention:
This type of merit based, union busting tactic [as promoted by Broad] has been criticized by Diane Ravitch on her blog and in her books. So, why is Ravitch speaking at TURN’s national convention? And was she paid to do so? If paid, was she paid by the very same privatizers she had so vehemently exposed in her published books “Reign of Error” and “Death and Life of the Great American School System”? What a strange TURN of events. [Emphasis added.]
Nothing solid. Just an “if” leading to a triumphant “aha!”
The rush to accuse is a problem. However, the greater problem is in Carroll’s neglecting to correct the error. Ravitch made it clear to Carroll that she was not compensated to speak at TURN, yet Carroll has not modified this unfounded, reputation-damaging section of her post.
No “strange TURN of events” here, Carroll. Just a directly-refuted, uncorrected factual blunder.
I asked Diane Ravitch how many times she has spoken for free in 2012-13.
Here is her email response to me on July 16, 2014:
I have to guess how many times I spoke for free as that requires I look at my calendars and they are in Brooklyn. Guesstimate: 2012-13: 40 times. To PTAs, book clubs, neighborhood groups, etc. Might have been more.
I then asked Ravitch for a copy of her speech at 2013 TURN. She said that she spoke from notes and offered this summary of her remarks:
This is what I said to TURN:
We live in the most perilous time ever in the history of public education.
Powerful forces are arrayed together in a concerted effort to privatize our schools and to dismantle the teaching profession.
Among those forces are some of the nation’s biggest philanthropies, including The Walton Foundation, the Broad Foundation, and the Gates Foundation. They have the active support of the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Arne Duncan.
The philanthropies and the Department together are promoting policies that will privatize the schools, like charter schools, and they are promoting programs to turn teaching into a competition for dollars and test scores.
None of their preferred policies work. Not only do charter schools take money away from democratically controlled public schools, they don’t get better results.
Merit pay has been tried for 100 years and it has never worked.
Evaluating teachers by the test scores of their students–a key element of Race to the Top–encourages narrowing the curriculum, teaching to the test, cheating, and gaining the system.
The centerpiece of today’s alleged reforms is high-stakes testing–carrots and sticks. This does not encourage good teaching or deep learning. The nature of tests is that they are normed on a bell curve. Poor and minority children tend to cluster in the bottom half because they have lacked the opportunity to learn, and affluent kids clip user in the top half because they have had the advantages of economic security, well-resourced schools, educated parents, and the advantages that money can buy.
None of the current reforms work. None will ever work.
True reform means reducing poverty and segregation and helping children and families get a fair chance and a decent life. True reform means well-prepared and well-compensated teachers. True reform means schools where professionals work together and have the support of the Community. True reform means schools that have the resources to meet the needs of their students.
These are not the words of a corporate reformer.
Ravitch was not bought; her words were not bought, and it is time for Carroll to TURN the insinuation in the text of her post into an update that reflects these truths.
A Word on Weingarten
Next, Carroll continues with details about Weingarten. I have not fact-checked the information Carroll posted regarding Weingarten; however, I have fact-checked my own writings on Weingarten– a number of which have appeared on Diane Ravitch’s blog (see here, and here, and here, and here)– and I concur that Weingarten has made and continues to make decisions that are detrimental to the teachers she is supposed to represent.
Two Green Dots
After some words about income inequity, Carroll makes another factual blunder:
It should be noted that Green Dot Public Schools is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. This means if they are to see profits, they must expand, which in TURN means more traditional public schools must close, so more lost jobs.
I have written about the history of Green Dot Schools in my book (part of chapter 20). Green Dot Public Schools is registered as a nonprofit. Nonprofits differ from publicly traded companies. Nonprofits are not traded. The publicly-traded company for which Carroll confused Green Dot Public Schools, Green Dot Corporation, deals in prepaid credit cards and other “personal banking for the masses.”
That was sloppy, Carroll, and it shows just how hair-triggered you are to assign union-corruption blame.
Unsuccessful IRS Form 990 Interpretation
The sloppiness continues in the next section with Carroll’s misreading and misinterpreting of IRS forms 990s. Here is an excerpt:
The unions have formed and partnered with many illicit non-profits, with union busters buying off union officials, e.g., California Teacher Association’s Institute for Teaching (IFT).
Dean Vogel, a school counselor, is both president of CTA and CEO of CTA’s non-profit IFT. Dean Vogel was paid $174,000 (according to 990 form filed June 2012 with IRS), and received an additional $85,000 reportable income from related organizations … asserting only one hour of work per week on this 990 filing.
Yes, read that again: Dean Vogel makes $174, 000 plus $85,000 for one hour per week just at the non-profit.
I will use the most recent 990s to illustrate Carroll’s “one hour” error.
Here is the 2012 990 (09-01-11 to 08-31-12– filed July 17, 2013) for the California Teachers Association (CTA) Institute for Teaching (IFT). On page 8 (Part VII– Compensation), Dean Vogel is listed as president of CTA IFT and works a reported one hour per week for CTA IFT for zero compensation (see column D, reportable compensation). The $176,864 is listed in the column E, reported compensation from related organizations. The “related organization” is the CTA, for which Vogel is listed on page 32 (Part VII– Compensation) as working 40 hours per week and to which his $176,864 salary plus the $88,116 in “other compensation” (see page 22) are associated. (CTA 2012 990– 09-01-11 to 08-31-12)
Nonprofits often operate in conjunction with other nonprofits under the same “parent.” In this case, CTA is the “direct controlling entity” of five other CTA-related nonprofits– including CTA IFT (see page 27 of the CTA 2012 990, Part II– Identification of Related Tax Exempt Organizations).
Carroll Flunks “Fact Checking 101″
Sloppy, sloppy. Carroll, if you want to fight union corruption, you really need to work on getting your facts right. Otherwise, your own incompetence will undermine your efforts and provide fodder for your opponents to discredit you handsomely.
Take my word for it– I just ginsu-ed you.
Moving on to Jim Horn.
The Self-undermining Indignation that is Jim Horn
When Horn read Carroll’s post and realized it provided an opening for him to attack Diane Ravitch, I wonder if he wet himself from glee. He launches right into Ravitch and her being paid by Pearson to speak at the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) convention in 2012 and of her receiving “her hefty speaking fee” as though Ravitch had been bought by Pearson. Horn assumes as much since he was unable to locate Ravitch’s speech online (his only link in his post other than a quote from The Hunger Games).
Horn really did not want Ravitch to be paid by Pearson to speak. But she was, and she admitted it and added that she was “thrilled to be paid by Pearson to tell thousands of psychologists how lousy the standardized tests are.”
Sounds fine to me. You see, I read Ravitch’s speech.
The tone of Horn’s writing is such that one knows he wants Ravitch to be guilty of something. Surely her accepting “a fat payout” from Pearson to speak at NASP is evidence of the corruption he just knows is at her core, right?
The problem is, Ravitch’s 2012 NASP speech– the one Horn could not locate online and therefore assumed Ravitch had hidden for its ability to convict her in the Court of Horn– offers nothing in it’s 20 pages to justify his accusatory tone for her accepting payment from Pearson to deliver it.
Go ahead. Read the speech and find the lines that give ueber-testing a nod of encouragement and approval. It isn’t there.
What is there is the repeated disapproval of test-driven reform and damage it does to children, the over-dependence upon standardized testing, the fallacies of value-added modeling, the failure of merit pay, the pipe-dream of under-regulated charter schools as siphons for community school funding, the failure of vouchers, the ignored impact of poverty upon schools, and the overall punitive nature of privatizing reform– twenty pages worth.
Here is how Horn introduces the Carroll post:
Below is a piece by Kathleen Carroll that set Diane off. The only inaccuracy that Diane could find in this piece is that she was not actually paid to speak at TURN….
Let me pause right here for a moment. The Carroll post was 1,600 words with only a single link, yet Horn is fine with this.
I am not.
As I have already established, the Carroll post has major errors that can only make her look foolish to those who know what they are reading. Indeed, her credibility suffered from the outset due to her lack of linked evidence.
Continuing with Horn:
[Ravitch] states, “I spoke at TURN and did not ask who gives them money. I was not paid.”
What kind of response is this? Is this really a suggestion that Ravitch does not know who funds TURN?
Another pause: Carroll offered no substantiated evidence on recent TURN funding. She also offered no correction in her post regarding her insinuation that Ravitch accepted money to speak at TURN. In his pursuit of Ravitch, Horn excuses Carroll.
The ramble continues. I will not post all. Horn goes on about Ravitch “not knowing who funds TURN” and makes comments about her “being bosom buddies with Rhonda.”
Sometimes, Horn, people just don’t know a thing– like that nonprofits cannot be publicly traded– or that nonprofits often have “related” nonprofits.
As to the “bosom buddies” comment: I realize that Carroll and Horn want to convict Ravitch for her association with Weingarten. But here’s how it works: Carroll and Horn might not like it, but Ravitch operates as a private citizen. Thus, Ravitch is exempt from answering to angry union members. Weingarten is not. And I know Ravitch well enough to state that trying to corner her into an all-out war on Weingarten will not work. It just won’t. Carroll (and others) can get angry over this; they can write endless posts and emails on the matter, but in the end, it is Diane Ravitch who will decide what she posts about Weingarten, and how, and when, and how she approaches Weingarten on so-called “ed reform” issues.
And Ravitch does post pointed words toward Weingarten. I know this because she has posted some of mine. But again, it’s on her terms. I never presume to demand.
Keep banging your heads against the entitlement wall if you like. You will only end up with headaches.
Returning to the lack of research-supported quality in both the Carroll and Horn posts:
If Carroll, or Horn, or anyone really wants to confront corruption in the unions, the way not to accomplish such a goal is to offer error-ridden posts like Carroll’s enveloped in an uncritically-swallowed, Ravitch-anger-sandwich that is Horn’s.
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I have been asked numerous times to join Twitter. The response I offer to this request: I haven’t the time to keep up with Twitter.
That doesn’t mean that I do not occasionally become the topic of a Twitter exchange, however.
Apparently such an exchange began on July 10, 2014, between New York City teacher Arthur Goldstein and former United Federation of Teachers VP Leo Casey. The exchange also includes Kathleen Casey, Leo’s sister.
According to Leo Casey, I “spin conspiracy theories” and that “anyone who disagrees with me” is “in league with the devil.”
Below is the Goldstein-Casey exchange, apparently over my post about American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten’s July 8, 2014, reluctant admission that she is a member of the secretive Democracy Alliance.
[Leo Casey] Why stop here? There’s always the illuminati to expose.http://t.co/4yNC37Ra2O<-PAXP-deijE.gif> Randi Weingarten, Twitter, and ‘Secret Society’ Membership m.huffpost.com
[Quote] I wonder exactly what “progressive agenda advancing” organizations Weingarten and her sidekick Ringuette have decided to “invest” in on behalf of AFT members. Just don’t ask her about those investment specifics….
LikeLike · · @LeoECasey on Twitter ·Share Kathleen Casey likes this.
Kathleen Casey Who is Mercedes Schneider? 10 July at 19:02 ·Like
Leo Casey She spins conspiracy theories about progressives on the theory that anyone who disagrees with her is in league with the devil.
Arthur Goldstein Mercedes is a public school teacher, a former college professor, a thinker and a writer who’s regularly acknowledged and published byDiane Ravitch. She recently published a book. I’ve spent time with her. She’s quick-witted and soft-spoken. It’s disappointing to see ad hominem attacks against her containing no evidence whatsoever to refute her arguments. It’s further disappointing to see absurd notions planted in her mouth.Yesterday at 07:56 · Like
Leo Casey All you need to do is read the latest missive, attached to the original post, with her latest conspiracy theory attack on Randi Weingarten, to know where the truth lies. If it was the first time, you could write it off as aberration and a lapse of judgment. Instead, it is a well-established pattern. Yesterday at 10:36 · Like
Arthur Goldstein On the other hand, that’s a straw man. An argument is a demonstration something she says is incorrect. Yesterday at 11:50 · Like
Kathleen Casey It’s a pity that an organization working hard to help teachers (and students and schools) is been attacked this way. What is the motivation of those mounting these personal attacks? Yesterday at 12:09 · Like
There you have it. Schneider the Conspiracy Theorist.
Interestingly, Casey offered no word over my defense of AFT and Weingarten when attacked by the Center for Union Facts (CUF)– the one about the five-story billboard in Times Square– nor did he refer to my defense of my tempered behavior at the Network for Public Education conference in Austin.
Leadership should answer to membership. Imagine my expecting as much.
Then again, I have signed no Unity Oath stating I will not publicly disagree with union leadership. I even go so far as to openly question the AFT president (gasp!) on her repeated, corporate-reform-friendly actions. This must mean– to borrow his words against me and turn them onto him– according to Leo Casey, I am “in league with the devil.”
You want to tweet about your displeasure with me, Leo?
Go for it.
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