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More on ERDI’s Paying School Admin to Connect with Ed Businesses: Dallas Dance of Baltimore

The so-called Educational Research and Development Institute (ERDI) is a business that does little more than connect ed businesses with school administrators who might promote (and purchase) their products. It’s a pay-to-play in which the ed businesses dish out thousands of dollars in order to pitch their products to school admin that the ed businesses get to choose from among a pool of ERDI-paid school admin “product reviewers” who are paid stipends by ERDI to attend ERDI events, with travel expenses also paid by ERDI.

I previously wrote about ERDI in this January 14, 2018, post.

Former Chicago superintendent, Barbara Byrd Bennett, who is serving time for receiving kickbacks from another organization with which she was associated, SUPES Academy, was also an ERDI senior advisor.

The November 2017 Baltimore Post article featured in this post, which is written by Ann Costantino and which features the ERDI connection of former Baltimore superintendent, Dallas Dance (full name Shaun Dallas Dance), is an excellent resource for understanding ERDI operations.

dallas dance

S. Dallas Dance

Dance, who, like Bennett, was also connected with SUPES Academy, continues to be under investigation.

(An aside: Interestingly, on his Twitter page (@SDallasDance), which has not been used since 2014, Dance identifies himself as “SUPES Academy consultant and on the side I oversee Baltimore County Schools.” UPDATE 01-17-18: This is a parody page for Dance. His verified Twitter is @S_Dallas_Dance, where he does not mention SUPES, ERDI, or any specific work history in his tag: “Twitter Account for S. Dallas Dance – Father, Leader, Educator, Author, & Innovator – Reasonably impatient about improving educational outcomes for ALL children.”

A second aside: Dance is Dr. S. Dallas Dance; a Google search of “s dallas dance dissertation” yields numerous sites offering academic papers for sale. I Googled other names preceding the term, “dissertation,” and did not duplicate the resulting hits on sites selling academic paper-writing services.)

I offer an excerpt from the Costantino’s Baltimore Post piece on ERDI. However, the entire article, which includes actual ERDI documents, is quite an education in ERDI and well worth the read:

When Dallas Dance, the former head of Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS), was paid thousands of dollars to sit down at conferences with companies like DreamBox and Curriculum Associates, it was supposedly to give them feedback about their educational products.

But a cache of emails and documents inadvertently made public on a website used by an education vendor, paints a far different picture of why Dance and other schools superintendents were paid to attend.

These documents, discussing a 2016 conference in Arizona, suggest the real reason was to pitch the vendor products to large school districts with the cash to buy a lot of product. And Dance was listed by at least one company as their top prospect.

The documents also raise questions about the conference organizer, the Educational Research & Development Institute (ERDI). Although not widely known, ERDI has played a key role in linking school district leaders with education and software vendors.  But the documents appear to show ERDI blurring the ethical line between school superintendents like Dance and the vendors who are trying to sell them educational products. …

ERDI offered several levels of “involvement” to mostly educational software and hardware vendors that wanted to participate. The “levels” determined how much time they would get to spend with school officials. With the money from the vendors, ERDI paid not only for the conference expenses, but paid each school official who participated.

In effect, ERDI was passing money from vendors to the superintendents who were supposedly engaged in an arms-length transaction about what to buy for their school districts.

One of those vendors was Istation, a Texas company that sells education software.  The contract, which Istation had with ERDI, shows that the vendor paid $23,000 for a “silver” plan that allowed the company to meet with 10 superintendents of its choosing.

How did Istation choose which superintendents it wanted to meet?

A spokeswoman for Istation told The Baltimore Post the company wanted “a group of districts that represent diverse student populations: a combination of large, medium, and small districts; rural, urban, and suburban; diverse socioeconomic factors, etc. ”

However, of the 10 school system leaders chosen by Istation, six represent some of the largest school systems in the country. Baltimore County Public Schools, for instance, the 25th largest school district in the country, had 112,000 students in 2016.  Istation’s “National Price Sheet” shows it charges districts a per student rate for its software, meaning that the higher the enrollment, the more software the company can sell. …

When Istation signed up for its ERDI silver level membership in September 2015, it invested $23,000 to pitch to 10 superintendents – over two sessions  – of the company’s choosing. The membership allowed the company to pitch its products and services to district leaders, at $2,300 each.

The website records show that Dance was the first pick among 10 superintendents Istation selected in rank-order.

Istation did not say why Dance was their first pick. But it was clear that Dance was an eager buyer.

The scale of his spending has been detailed by Joanne Simpson, a freelance journalist, who found that Dance committed Baltimore County schools to at least $260 million, by the 2018-2019 school year….

This money was spent despite the fact that some schools in the system lacked basic services such as drinkable water, special education teachers and functioning air conditioning. …

Reporters, who have tried to reach out to Dance over several months, have not been successful.  Neither he nor principals from ERDI responded with a request for comment.

The following ERDI price listing for ed business access to school administrators comes from this November 2017 New York Times article by Natasha Singer and Danielle Ivory on ERDI in Baltimore (click image to enlarge):


Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

On MLK Day: If You Support Trump, You Won’t Like This Post.

Martin Luther King, Jr., risked and lost his life for the sake of American citizens who were systematically being treated as subhuman and nonhuman.

Such sacrifice.

king  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Almost as if it were planned for some strategically-released, reality-TV show, only days prior, Donald Trump proved yet again his unfitness to hold the highest office in the land, this time with his now-infamous “s***hole countries” comment directed at Haiti, El Salvador, and certain African countries.

Some senators have confirmed Trump’s remarks, and others offered a denial (see here and here), with the strongest confirmation coming from Illinois Senator, Dick Durbin. From the Hill, on January 15, 2018:

President Trump blasted Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Twitter Monday, claiming the senator “totally misrepresented” his comments calling Haiti , El Salvador and African nations “shithole countries.”

“Senator Dicky Durbin totally misrepresented what was said at the DACA meeting. Deals can’t get made when there is no trust!” Trump tweeted.

Durbin confirmed a report in The Washington Post that Trump had made the “shithole countries” remark during a meeting with lawmakers on immigration reform, telling reporters that the president made “hate-filled, vile and racist” comments.

“You’ve seen the comments in the press,” Durbin said Friday. “I’ve not seen one of them that’s inaccurate. To no surprise, the president started tweeting this morning, denying that he used those words. It is not true. He said these hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly.”

Trump has denied that he made the comments on Twitter, although the White House did not initially deny the report.

Trump’s use of profanity isn’t as problematic as the message behind the profanity– one that he has stated on Twitter– and that is entrance into America based on “merit”:

The lurking darkness here is that someone would have to make a value judgment on what “merits” entrance– and it sounds like being white carries the most merit with Trump.

“Become strong and great again” reads like, “become whiter”– or “become less black and brown.”

How does one argue for the merit of saving a person fleeing for his/her life?

Given Trump’s established reputation for racist words and actions, a disgusting subtext emerges:  “Yeah, I can offer asylum, but what have you done for me lately? And what can you do for me if you’re not white?”

Don’t tell me that this self-serving, white-centric, “merit” posture addresses the complexities of immigration in the mind of this shallow, arrogant man. It does not. It only offers a convenient avenue for exercising racial exclusion.

On the day when America celebrates the life of a man who actually advanced civil rights as the civil rights of his time, Trumpism not only falls flat– it leaves a hole in my heart.

A compassion hole. Not a s***hole.


Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

ERDI: Paying School Admin to Review Ed Products that Those Admin Could Then Purchase… (?)

Former Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett is serving time in a West Virginia minimum security prison for sending CPS contracts to an ed consulting business where she once worked, SUPES Academy. In turn, Bennett received kickback money for supplying the contracts. (Read more about that here and here.)


Barbara Byrd Bennett

It turns out that Bennett had a number of ed business involvements/connections, as John Kugler detailed in this May 05, 2015, Chicago-based, Substance News article.

One of those organizations is the Education Research and Development Institute (ERDI). In 2015, Bennett was listed as ERDI “senior adviser” (see Substance News post).

ERDI is an organization that brings together school administrators and ed business, purportedly so that those ed leaders can comment on ed products. From the ERDI “about” page:

The Education Research and Development Institute (ERDI) empowers school districts and their leaders throughout the United States to directly examine, evaluate and fundamentally influence the design and scope of educational products and services offered to American schools and their students.

Through research-based analysis and assessment, ERDI school districts and their leaders provide product/services developers unvarnished, impartial and unequivocal feedback and recommendations on what works—and doesn’t work—with school populations.  It is through these intensive assessments that products and services are refined and modified to ultimately maximize their effectiveness in meeting student needs.

Unlike other research opportunities, ERDI offers to those who develop educational products and services the ability to obtain unbiased, straightforward and frequently blunt criticism from the very practitioners—nationwide educational leaders with a broad array of expertise—who best understand educator and student needs.

The problem with ERDI is that it pays those ed leaders for their input, which presents conflict of interest issues when those ed leaders happen to be the ones who make purchasing decisions for ed products promoted by ERDI.

Consider the situation of Youngstown City Schools (Ohio) CEO Krish Mohip, as reported by Amanda Tonoli in the November 19, 2017, Vindicator:

The Youngstown City School District contracted with a company that is a partner of a firm for which CEO Krish Mohip was a paid consultant.

The school district has paid $261,914 to Curriculum Associates, a partner company of Education Research & Development Institute, which used Mohip as recently as August as a paid consultant. …

In August, Mohip acknowledged he was paid $4,000 in 2017 by ERDI for his position on two educational review panels.

When questioned by The Vindicator on Aug. 9 [another] relationship between [another ed business and Youngstown Schools,] Atlantic, and ERDI, both of Chicago, Mohip quit being a paid consultant for ERDI that very day.

In April 2017, the Louisiana Board of Ethics (LBE) ruled that one of Louisiana’s superintendents, Isaac Joseph of Jefferson Parish Public Schools (JPPS), could not ethically accept “an honorarium and payment of travel, meal, ground transportation and lodging costs in exchange for providing consulting services.”

From the LBE docket summary and statement of LBE position:, as addressed to JPPS legal counsel, Patricia Adams from LBE attorney, Jennifer Land:

You also stated that as a participating consultant, Superintendent Joseph would be expected to attend two conferences per year and ERDI would pay for his lodging, meals, airfare and ground transportation. Finally, you stated that ERDI will pay Superintendent Joseph an honorarium of $2,000 for each conference, plus an additional $100 for serving as a panel chairperson.

The Board concluded, and instructed me to inform you, that the Code of Governmental Ethics would prohibit Superintendent Joseph from accepting an honorarium and payment of travel, meal, ground transportation and lodging costs in exchange for providing consulting services to ERDI. … Because Superintendent Joseph would be providing consultant services regarding matters related to his job duties, he would be prohibited from receiving any thing of economic value from ERDI in connection with his position as a consulting educational leader at its bi-annual conferences.

Note that Superintendent Joseph could still attend an ERDI conference, but it cannot be on ERDI’s dime.

The official LBE vote on the above advice (9 yeas, 1 nay) can be found in this record of LBE minutes for its meeting dated April 20, 2017.

The story of ERDI becomes more complicated when one considers its owners, David Sundstrom and Joseph Wise, who chose to register ERDI as a business in Florida, with the address of 12029 Cranefoot Drive, Jacksonville, FL, 32223.

However, the ERDI website lists the ERDI address as 910 West Van Buren, Suite 315, Chicago, IL 60607– the very same address as another Sundstrom-Wise entity, nonprofit, Distinctive Schools– which happens to also be registered in Florida.– and another school (not registered as a nonprofit), Acceleration Academies (also registered in Florida).

In all, it seems that Sundstrom-Wise have 6 corporations registered in Florida. (It seems that one has been dissolved.)

The story of Sundstrom-Wise is likely an iceberg tip in this post, with Tonoli’s Vindicator article in Mohip capturing some more of the tale, which brings us back to SUPES Academy and Bennett:

The relationships between education companies and superintendents or CEOs like Mohip can be complicated.

In Mohip’s case, its moreso since as a state-appointed CEO, a board of education does not have to have to approve his actions. Essentially, he has carte blanche to contract with partners of his choice.

In February, for example, Mohip hired Atlantic Research Partners to search for city school district principals at a cost of $12,500.

Both Atlantic and ERDI have ties to two men – David Sundstrom and Joseph Wise.

Sundstrom and Wise were both founders of Atlantic. Sundstrom left in March to co-own ERDI. Wise was said to join shortly after. Both are now listed as ERDI governing board members on ERDI’s website. …

Sundstrom, Wise and Atlantic have been part of past controversies in education. In June 2015, Atlantic acquired parts of a company called The SUPES Academy, a training program for principals and superintendents. SUPES was part of a multimillion-dollar kickback scandal that sent former owners Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas and former Chicago Public Schools CEO and SUPES consultant Barbara Byrd-Bennett to prison for seven years, 18 months and four years, respectively.

Sundstrom said Atlantic acquired parts of SUPES in an agreement stipulating that it wasn’t involved in any criminal misdoings. About six months later, Sundstrom said he and Wise rescinded the deal after the kickback scandal was revealed. Sundstrom said he was the victim of a misrepresentation.

In 2007, Sundstrom and Wise were asked to leave their positions as chief of staff and superintendent, respectively, at Duval County (Fla.) schools. Sundstrom explained that he and Wise were in positions of transformation for an academically challenged school district.

Iceberg tip, folks.



Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Vermillion Parish Supt. on Hargrave’s Arrest: “I Should Have Stood Up, Okay?”

When Vermillion Parish (Louisiana) teacher Deyshia Hargrave was escorted out of a January 08, 2018, school board meeting as she was responding to superintendent Jerome Puyhau, who had directly addressed her, Puyau chose not to intervene.

Board president Anthony Fontana signaled for officer Reggie Hilts to take some action as Hargrave was speaking, though what Fontana intended Hilts to actually do once he reached Hargrave remains unclear.

What Hilts did was throw Hargrave to the floor, cuff her, and drag her from the building once she was in the hallway. Nothing about Hargrave’s behavior warranted Hilt’s excessive display of force.

Neither Puyau nor Fontana exhibited any shock at Hilts’ actions.

Hilts has a history of using unnecessary force.

Still, Puyau defends him. From CBS on January 11, 2018:

While emotional over the backlash, Puyau says he doesn’t blame the deputy marshal who arrested Hargrave.

“I’m the superintendent, I’m to blame,” he said. “I should have stood up, okay? That’s what you want to hear and it’s the truth, I should have stood up….Let her speak.”

Puyau said no one on the board directed the city marshal to escort Hargrave out. The marshal was contracted to work security at the meeting, but Puyau said they don’t plan on having him again. He also noted the deputy is a well-liked school resource officer at one of the district middle schools, and does not plan on firing him. CBS News has reached out to the marshal but has not heard back.

However, in an interview a day earlier with KATC, Puyau said that he supported Hilts’ actions and that Hilts was simply following orders.

Puyau defended both Hilts’ excessive force and “protocol” while failing to acknowledge that he himself chose to break protocol in choosing to continue a conversation with Hargrave. Public upset over Hargrave’s arrest– an unnecessary arrest that Puyau had the authority to prevent if only he had exercised a skilled leader’s sensitivity in responding to the situation– has led to death threats for both Puyah and Vermillion school board members.

From KATC on January 10, 2018:

Many in Vermilion Parish are getting death threats over the arrest of middle school teacher Deyshia Hargrave, including the parish’s superintendent, Jerome Puyau.

Puyau is pleading for death threats against himself, his family and others in the school system to stop.

“Leave our communities out and our schools.. just stay away,” begs Puyau.

Despite the threats and overwhelming outrage, Puyau stands by the officer who escorted Hargrave out of the building in handcuffs.

“Our people know what to do, and when it happened, that person, that marshal acted in what we asked him to do,” said the Vermilion Parish superintendent.

When the question was raised whether Puyau believes he should have acted differently during Monday’s meeting, he said it would have all come down to protocol.

“Protocol says: Go to the podium. State your name. You have three minutes. That way, there is no ambiguity if someone received the authority to speak or not,” said Puyau.

It seems that Puyau has found himself in a corner and forced to admit fault. Indeed he is the superintendent, and he most certainly should have prevented Hargrave’s exit.

All he had to say to Hilts was, “It’s okay. She is responding to an inquiry that I initiated. I understand why teachers would become upset at my receiving a raise, and I believe they should be allowed to speak.”

Such an empathic (strategic?) response surely would have curtailed the profound public outcry from which Puyau must now extract himself.

Ironically, Puyau’s own failure to act in the moment in defending Hargrave at the questionable meeting at which his contract was finally renewed could be his actual undoing as superintendent in Vermillion Parish.

In his January 11, 2018, CBS interview, Puyau was in tears. However, the timing of his tears betrays that Puyau is likely crying not for Hargrave, but for himself.

As of this writing, Puyau has offered Hargrave no public apology.

On January 11, 2018, Abbeville City Marshal Jeremiah Bolden called for an independent investigation into Hilts’ incident with Hargraves.

photo (4)  Jerome Puyau, in tears



Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Officer Who Used Excessive Force on La. Teacher Sued for Same in 2012

UPDATE 01-11-18: I corrected some details in the post below regarding the grass cutting mishap. The behavior of the officers involved remains unchanged from the initial posting.


Reginald “Reggie” Hilts, the officer who threw Vermillion Parish (Louisiana) teacher Deyshia Hargrave to the ground; cuffed her, and dragged her from the school board meeting building on January 08, 2018, has a prior history of using unneccesary force.

I first wrote about Hargrave’s situation in this January 09, 2018, post.

In 2012, Hilts and fellow City of Scott (Louisiana) officer Mark Venable were sued in US District Court, Western District of Louisiana (Lafayette) for violating the civil rights of 62-year-old Bruce Falcon, a man suffering from chronic cirrhosis of the liver and who, as a result, was warned by his doctor to avoid cuts and bruises because his blood might not properly clot and could lead to his bleeding to death.

The incident with Venable and Hilts involved overgrown grass on an undeveloped lot that Falcon owned and that had already been cut. The individuals that the City of Scott sent (under the direction of Officer Venable) to cut the grass accidentally cut grass at the wrong address. Falcon also owned the misidentified property.

It turns out that Officer Venable confused the property addresses and instructed the lawn care service involved to cut the grass at the incorrect address.

When Falcon tried to explain to officers Venable and Hilts the error, the two officers without warning grabbed Falcon and slammed his head against a door and then slammed his head on concrete, splitting Falcon’s head open, fracturing one of his ribs, and bruising his face, arm, and shoulders. As a result of the incident, Falcon also suffered from headaches and neck pain.

The case, Falcon v. Venable, is available here.

In March 2016, settlement was reached, the details of which are not disclosed. However, what is known is that Hilts is still functioning as a police officer.

On January 10, 2018, Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) president, Debbie Meaux, offered the following statement via email as per my request:

LAE fully supports Vermilion Association of Educators member and leader Deyshia Hargrave. As President of the Louisiana Association of Educators, in conjunction with the National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen-Garcia, a joint statement in support of Deyshia and all educators who suffer the injustice of being silenced and disrespected has been issued.

Deyshia is currently being represented by the LAE attorney Brian Blackwell. Our NEA General Counsel Alice O’Brien has been apprised of the situation and will be brought in if needed.
LAE fully supports the right of all educators to exercise fully their democratic rights and duties as citizens. LAE is looking at the legal possibility of pursuing a suit based on a breach by the school board of Deyshia’s First Amendment rights.

Governor John Bel Edwards and First Lady Donna Edwards have expressed their support for Deyshia and her right to speak freely. For too long educators have been maligned and treated as though they are “the hired help”. And once again, it was a woman disrespected. This kind of violence and humiliation of educators must stop!

As LAE President, I issued the following statement the day after the event:

LAE was informed of the situation involving Deyshia Hargrave since shortly after the incident occurred. She is, in fact, a member of our association, and our attorney, Mr. Brian Blackwell, is working with her on next steps – he has been since Monday (1/8) evening.

As an organization that advocates for the dedicated school employees of Louisiana, we firmly denounce the mistreatment of Ms. Hargrave, a loving parent and dedicated teacher serving the students of Vermilion Parish. It is every citizen’s right to speak up for their beliefs. Any action that infringes upon this right is unlawful and unacceptable.

We will continue to support the right of every single school employee to take an interest in, and ultimately stand up for, the best interests of their schools and their students.

Debbie Meaux

I will continue to follow this story.

photo (3)  Reginald “Reggie” Hilts


Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

La. Teacher Thrown to Ground and Cuffed At School Board Meeting

On January 08, 2018, Vermillion Parish (Louisiana) teacher Deyshia Hargrave questioned board approval of a $38,000 pay raise for the district superintendent in light of the fact that district teachers and other staff have not received a raise in 6 years, since 2012.

She was apparently out of order for speaking too long and for asking board members questions. It seems that she did so on two occasions. However, the point at which a school resource officer stepped in was one in which Hargrave was responding to a question asked of her by a board member.

Based on the video excerpt below, Hargrave’s behavior in the meeting certainly did not warrant arrest:

(Update 01-10-18: If you cannot view video due to computer security settings giving a “restricted mode” message, know that the Heavy article linked below details the contents of the video and more.)

What is troubling is that Hargrave was apparently trying to address issues negatively affecting the classroom before a board president who preferred to hide behind open meetings procedures rather than address genuine public concerns. The incident is examined in greater detail in this Heavy article. Some excerpts:

Deyshia Hargrave stood up to speak out against a controversial 3-year contract extension for Vermilion Parish Superintendent Jerome Puyau during the public comment period prior to the board’s vote at Monday night’s meeting. The school board has been trying to extend Puyau’s contract for several months and has faced opposition from teachers and others in the community, according to Vermilion Today.

“I have a serious issue with a superintendent or any person in a position of leadership getting any type of raise. I feel that it’s a slap in the face to all the teachers, cafeteria workers and any other support staff. We work very hard with very little to maintain the salaries that we have,” Hargrave told the board, a video posted to YouTube by Chris Rosa shows. You can watch the full video above. “As I’ve been teaching the last few years I’ve seen class sizes grow enormously so, I don’t care if the performance targets are met, you’re making our job even more difficult and we are jumping through hoops and we’re continuously, we’re meeting those goals, we’re meeting those goals, while someone in that position of leadership is getting a raise.” …

“Again, I’m going to use the word absurd that we are even considering giving someone a raise when these teachers are working so hard and not getting a dime,” Hargrave told the board. …

Hargrave also criticized the board for taking a vote with a member who was appointed, not elected. According to Vermilion Today, school board member JB Moreno was appointed in December 2017 to fill a seat vacated by the death of another board member. Board President Anthony Fontana appointed Moreno instead of the deceased member’s wife, who was nominated by other board members. …

After the vote was held, Hargrave again addressed the board, this time during a period for “audience concerns for the superintendent.”

Hargrave, addressing the superintendent said, “how are you going to take a raise when … when I first started teaching ELA there were like 20, 21 kids in a class and now there’s 29 kids in a class that we are now having and we have not got raises. How are you going to take that money, because it’s basically taking out of the pockets teachers.”

Fontana then interrupted Hargrave, banging his gavel and saying, “stop right now, that’s not germane to what’s on the agenda.” The crowd erupted with, “yes it is.” Fontana told Hargrave and the audience that the raise issue was not part of the discussion of the superintendent’s contract.

“How are you taking the raise when you’re basically taking from the teachers and employees under you, when we have class sizes that are that big. This directly speaks to what you’ve just voted on,” Hargrave told Fontana.

At that point, Puyau begins speaking to Hargrave, but the Abbeville city marshal, Reggie Hilts, who was working security at the meeting can be seen walking toward her, apparently after Fontana motioned for her to be removed.

A video recorded by KATC-TV, which you can watch above, shows what happened as Hargrave was escorted out of the meeting. The Abbeville city marshal, Reggie Hilts, can be seen on video telling Hargrave to leave, pointing toward the door, while someone in the audience says, “he’s addressing her,” referencing the superintendent, who at that point stopped talking.

“Take your stuff and go,” Hilts says to Hargrave. She continues to speak to the board and the marshal says to her, “You’re going to leave or I’m going to remove you.”

Hilts then grabs Hargrave by the arm and she says to him, “Sir, do not,” before picking up her purse and walking toward the door. Someone in the crowd says, “this is the most disgraceful and distasteful thing I’ve ever seen.”

The video shows Hargrave and other members of the crowd asking why the school board president won’t let the superintendent answer Hargrave’s question. It then cuts to Hargrave in the hallway, being pushed to the ground by Hilts and put into handcuffs as she yells, “what are you doing, what are you doing!”

The marshal pulls Hargrave up to her feet and drags her, while handcuffed, down the hall as she screams, “are you kidding me?” Hilts says, “stop resisting,” and she responds, “I am not, you just pushed me to the floor. Sir, hold on, I am way smaller than you. Are you kidding me?” she says as the marshal leads her outside.

Local news station KATC was present at the meeting; below is a KATC news segment, in which one board member notes that negative treatment in board meetings seems to fall on women and not men:

According to a KATC update, the superintendent, Jerome Puyau, has attempted to communicate that the board will not press charges. TheAbbeville city attorney also stated that he will not prosecute Hargrave, who had the expense of posting bail.

KATC is unsure whether the officer acted on his own accord in deciding to arrest Hargrave.

Both the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE), the union to which Hargrave belongs, and the ACLU released statements condemning Hargrave’s arrest.

Board president Anthony Fontana dismissed the incident as a “set up.” However, according to Heavy, it was Fontana who seemed to motion for the officer to act as she was answering a question directed to her by the superintendent, and it was Fontana who declined to comment about whether or not his intention was to have Hargrave arrested.

Nothing about Hargrave’s actions indicates that she was part of some scheme to have herself arrested.

As of this writing, one board member has apparently publicly apologized to Hargrave. From Heavy:

Another school board member, Laura LeBeouf, telling NBC News she was “very appalled” by the incident.

“I personally apologize for the Vermilion Parish School Board. This is a sad day for Vermilion Parish. I don’t think it needed to come to the extreme that it came to,” she told NBC News.

According to KATC, Hargrave’s attorney says that she is expected to offer a public statement “tomorrow,” which is presumably January 10, 2018, given that the KATC article was updated January 09, 2018.


Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

NCLB: Some Notable, “Left Behind” USDOE Archives

On January 08, 2002, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was signed into law.

It marked a stark beginning of punitive test-centrism in the American public school classroom.

I have been reading archived US Department of Education (USDOE) press releases from 2001, mostly from former US ed secs Rod Paige and Margaret Spellings.

Using this link, one can access numerous USDOE archived press releases (see left margin). Most of the links are archived and still work. I happen to be perusing 2001-2002.

I would like to feature several of those archived pages in this post.

The first, dated March 22, 2001, is the USDOE press release for the first draft of HR 1, or NCLB. (Unfortunately, the link for the initial NCLB draft no longer works. However, much of the history of NCLB is preserved on this archived 107th Congress web page.)

Archived Information

March 22, 2001
Contact:  Lindsey Kozberg
(202) 401-3026

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, H.R. 1

I congratulate the House Education and Workforce Committee and Chairman Boehner on the introduction of H.R. 1, a comprehensive bill that embodies President Bush’s bold plans for reforming America’s public elementary and secondary schools. The President’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ plan is a call for systemic change, and I thank and applaud the members of the committee for the strong interest they have shown in pursuing that change and supporting education, President Bush’s foremost priority.

H.R. 1 offers a plan of attack against the persistent and insidious achievement gap between our disadvantaged students and their more affluent peers by linking federal support for education to strong accountability for results. For too long, the federal government has funded programs without even looking at or asking about the results for our children. The time for change has come, and bold legislation such as H.R. 1 that incorporates high standards, annual measurement and accountability, including expanded parental choice, with increased support and flexibility for our state and local governments will help us usher in that change.

As a result of research and measurement, we know more than ever before about what works in our public schools and what does not. Legislation like H.R. 1 reflects the growing support in Washington, D.C., for systemic change that will emphasize what works and will make our public education system a system of achievement.

I look forward to working with the members of the committee as they begin discussions about H.R. 1, and thank them for their leadership on behalf of our children. Through meaningful discussion of the plans set forth in H.R. 1, we can make sure that no child in this country is left behind.


The second is a page capturing (mostly) Spellings’ 2007-08 efforts to (mostly) promote NCLB reauthorization. (The November 2007 New York Times reported on NCLB reauth floundering, which, as it turns out, floundered for another decade.)

Note that in July 2007, George W. Bush promoted NCLB reauthorization to the then-under-the-radar American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). (I include Bush’s ALEC speech below.)

Strengthening No Child Left Behind
Archived Information


Final Regulations for Title I

Secretary Spellings announced final Title I regulations to strengthen the NCLB Act. (Oct 28, 2008)

Leading Education Indicators

Secretary Spellings unveiled the Leading Education Indicators at the Aspen Institute’s National Education Summit. (Sep 15, 2008)

Advancing Accountability 2008 National Tour

Since January, Secretary Spellings has visited 22 states, meeting with policy makers and educators about ways to help all students reach their potential. (Jun 9, 2008)

Meetings on Proposed Title I Regulations for NCLB

Secretary Spellings announced public meetings to discuss new Title I regulations for No Child Left Behind. (Apr 29, 2008)

Proposed Regulations to Strengthen NCLB

Secretary Spellings announced proposed regulations to strengthen NCLB by focusing on improved accountability and transparency, uniform and disaggregated graduation rates, and improved parental notification. (Apr 22, 2008)

Uniform Graduation Rate, Disaggregation of Data

Secretary Spellings announced the ED will move to a uniform graduation rate and require disaggregation of data. She made the announcement at an America’s Promise Alliance Dropout Prevention Campaign press conference. (Apr 1, 2008)

Simon Discusses Differentiated Accountability Pilot

Deputy Secretary Simon visited Indianapolis, where he discussed the new pilot program to help schools most in need of intervention and reform. (Mar 25, 2008)

Differentiated Accountability Pilot Program

Secretary Spellings announced a new pilot program to help states differentiate between underperforming schools in need of dramatic interventions and those closer to meeting the goals of NCLB. (Mar 18, 2008)

President’s 2009 Budget

Secretary Spellings highlighted President Bush’s FY 2009 budget, which strengthens the nation’s commitment to NCLB and increases funding for Title I and Pell Grants and restores funding for Reading First. (Feb 4, 2008)

K-12 Priorities for 2008

Secretary Spellings discussed NCLB and the Administration’s K-12 priorities for 2008 during remarks at National Press Club. (Jan 10, 2008)

Statement on Legislation Proposed by Senator Alexander

Secretary Spellings said that legislation proposed by Senator Lamar Alexander to expand flexibility options for states under No Child Left Behind is “a reasonable and responsible step forward.” (Nov 6, 2007)

President Talks with Civil Rights Leaders

President Bush spoke to civil rights leaders and advocates for minority and disadvantaged students about closing the achievement gap and the need to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act. (Oct 9, 2007)

Nation’s Report Card

“Student achievement is on the rise,” Secretary Spellings said. “No Child Left Behind is working.” President Bush also hailed the results, saying Congress should reauthorize NCLB and not “roll back accountability.” (Sep 25-26, 2007)

No Child Left Behind Bus Tour

During the NCLB bus tour in Ohio and Indiana, Secretary Spellings announced the Empowering Parents School Box, guide books on charter schools, and more. See press releases and photos. (Sep 19-21, 2007)

Secretary’s Letter on “Miller-McKeon Discussion Draft” of Title I

This letter provides ED’s general comments on the August 28 “Miller-McKeon discussion draft” of Title I of NCLB posted on the Committee on Education and Labor website. (Sep 5, 2007)

Spellings Speaks to Business Coalition

Secretary Spellings spoke to the Business Coalition for Student Achievement about the need for Congress to strengthen and reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act this year. See the Secretary’s remarks. (Sep 5, 2007)

Secretary Visits Schools in Rural Alaska, Highlights NCLB

Secretary Spellings joined Senator Stevens and Senator Murkowski to highlight strides made by Alaska’s schools and students under No Child Left Behind. See press releases. (Aug 29-30, 2007)

Statement on Chairman Miller’s Remarks on NCLB Reauthorization

Secretary Spellings thanked Chairman Miller “for his commitment to strengthening and improving” NCLB and noted that “his leadership and bipartisanship will be essential” to improving NCLB. See statement. (Jul 30, 2007)

President’s Remarks at ALEC on NCLB Reauthorization

President Bush spoke about the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). See the excerpt about reauthorizing NCLB or the video and text of his remarks. (Jul 26, 2007)

Secretary’s Statement on No Child Left Behind Act of 2007

“The NCLB Act of 2007 strikes a strong balance between preserving the fundamental accountability that is helping students improve, and responding to legitimate concerns raised by parents and educators,” Secretary Spellings said. (Jul 12, 2007)

Presidential Scholars

President Bush congratulated the 2007 Presidential Scholars and called on Congress to reauthorize No Child Left Behind this year. (Jun 25, 2007)

House Testimony, Invitation to Congressional Leaders

Secretary Spellings testified before the House Committee on Education and Labor. She also invited congressional leaders to collaborate in reauthorizing No Child Left Behind. (May 10-11, 2007)

Secretary Spellings Visits Los Angeles

Secretary Spellings met with education leaders, parents, and federal officials in Los Angeles, where she discussed charter schools, school safety, and the importance of reauthorizing NCLB this year. (May 3, 2007)

President Bush Visits Harlem School, Discusses NCLB

President Bush and Secretary Spellings visited the Harlem Village Academy charter school, where the President called on Congress to reauthorize No Child Left Behind this year. (Apr 24, 2007)

President Bush Discusses NCLB Reauthorization

President Bush discussed the need to reauthorize NCLB. (Apr 12, 2007)

Secretary Spellings Visits Minnesota

Secretary Spellings visited Grainwood Elementary School and spoke with the Burnsville Chamber of Commerce. (Apr 5, 2007)

Secretary Spellings Visits Arizona

Secretary Spellings visited the Mesa Arts Academy and participated in a roundtable discussion with the Arizona Business Education Coalition. (Apr 2, 2007)

President Bush Visits School in New Albany, Indiana

President Bush spoke at Silver Street Elementary School in New Albany, Indiana, where he discussed the reauthorization of NCLB. (Mar 2, 2007)

Secretary Spellings Visits Tampa

Secretary Spellings visited Dunbar Magnet School in Tampa, Florida, where she talked business leaders, teachers, students, and parents about the importance of reauthorizing NCLB this year. (Feb 22, 2007)

Statement on Aspen Institute Report on NCLB

Secretary Spellings said the recommendations by the Aspen Institute’s Commission on NCLB “recognize the solid foundation built by NCLB and reaffirm the law’s core principles.” (Feb 13, 2007)

Secretary Spellings Visits Atlanta

Secretary Spellings met with business and community leaders, students and teachers in Atlanta, Georgia, rounding out a month-long celebration of the five-year anniversary of the historic No Child Left Behind Act and stressing the importance of reauthorizingthe law this year. (Jan 30, 2007)

Secretary Spellings Visits Chicago

Secretary Spellings kicked off a national dialogue in Chicago with business leaders, students, teachers, and school officials to promote Building on Results: A Blueprint for Strengthening the No Child Left Behind Act. (Jan 25, 2007)

Secretary Spellings Visits Dallas

At the Northeast Leadership Forum Annual Luncheon in Dallas, Secretary Spellings spoke about the success of students under NCLB and encouraged business and community leaders to support the reauthorization of the law. (Jan 19, 2007)

Secretary Spellings Hails Support of Business Leaders in Reauthorizing NCLB

Secretary Spellings met with leaders of the Business Coalition for Student Achievement to thank them for their support of the No Child Left Behind Act and to discuss the shared goal of reauthorizing NCLB this year. (Jan 18, 2007)

Building on Results: A Blueprint for Strengthening NCLB

See the administration’s proposals for reauthorizing No Child Left Behind (Jan 2007) and a subsequent letter describing policy priorities (Apr 2007). See fact sheets and videos of NCLB success stories.

President Bush, Mrs. Bush, and Secretary Spellings Meet with Members of Congress on Fifth Anniversary of NCLB

President Bush, Mrs. Bush, and Secretary Spellings met with bicameral and bipartisan members of Congress on the fifth anniversary of No Child Left Behind. The reauthorization of NCLB is one of the President’s top priorities—and an area where he believes both parties can work together to improve our children’s lives and enhance American competitiveness. See a video, photo, and fact sheet. (Jan 8, 2007)

President Discusses NCLB Reauthorization at ED

“I have just reassured the Secretary and the folks who work here,” President Bush said, “that the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act is a priority of this administration.” See a video of the President’s remarks. See photos of the discussion and of the President’s visit that day at Woodridge Elementary and Middle Campus in Washington, D.C. (Oct 5, 2006)

Fact Sheet

Learn about progress made under NCLB and areas where we can look to improve. (Oct 5, 2006)

President Discusses NCLB in Greensboro, North Carolina

President Bush congratulated the principal, teachers, and parents at Waldo C. Falkener Elementary School in Greensboro, North Carolina, “for working hard to make this a fantastically interesting place for our children to go to school.” See his remarks, including a video and photos. (Oct 18, 2006)

Next, here are excerpts related to NCLB from Bush’s speech dated July 26, 2007, to his “friends here at ALEC.” Note that Bush says he’s for local control, but when “you” (meaning the federal government) “spend money, you ought to insist upon results.” In the end, via NCLB, Bush supports local control of education overseen by punitive, federal control.

President Bush Addresses the American Legislative Exchange Council, Discusses Budget, Education and War on Terror 
Philadelphia Marriott
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

9:11 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thanks for the warm welcome. It’s good to be back with my friends here at ALEC. …

I appreciate Dolores Mertz and all the leadership of ALEC. I appreciate Jerry Watson, the Private Sector Chairman. Thank you all. Thank you for serving. Our government is only as good as the willingness of good people to serve. And it’s not easy to serve in public life. Sometimes it can get a little testy. (Laughter.) Sometimes people would rather throw a punch than put out a hand of fellowship. But that’s okay. What matters is, is that our democracy flourish, that people have an opportunity to exchange ideas, that there be constructive debate. And that requires good people willing to sacrifice to serve. And one of the reasons I wanted to come back today is to encourage you to continue serving your states, to continue representing the people.

I urge you to not rely upon the latest opinion poll to tell you what to believe. I ask you to stand strong on your beliefs, and that will continue to make you a worthy public servant.

I want to spend a little time talking about a couple of issues. I’d like to spend time talking about the budget and the economy, a little time talking about how to educate our children — how best to educate our children. …

Another way to make sure this economy grows is to be smart about our education system. The No Child Left Behind Act is an important piece of legislation. I’m a big believer in it, and I’ll tell you why. First of all, as the Speaker will tell you, I’m a strong advocate for local control of schools. I don’t believe Washington ought to be telling local districts how to run their school system. I do not believe that. (Applause.)

But I do believe this: I believe that when you spend money, you ought to insist upon results. That’s what I believe. I believe that every child can learn, and I believe that we ought to expect every school to teach. And when we spend money, I think it makes sense to ask simple questions: Can the child you’re educating read, write, add and subtract? I don’t think it’s too much to ask. As a matter of fact, I think it’s good for society that we do ask. It’s what I call challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations. (Applause.) If you have low expectations, you’ve going to get lousy results. If you have high expectations for every child, you’re not afraid to measure.

No Child Left Behind says we’re going to spend federal money, and we want you to develop an accountability system that will show the parents and taxpayers that the schools are meeting high standards. That’s what it says, and it’s working. You know, one of the real problems we have in America is an achievement gap. I guess that’s a fancy word for saying that generally Anglo kids are doing better in the basics than African American or Latino kids. And that’s not good for this country, and it’s not right. And it seems like to me we’ve got to focus our efforts and energies on solving that problem if we want this country to be a hopeful country with a strong economy.

The economy is going to demand brain power as we head into the 21st century, and therefore now is the time to make sure our 4th graders can read, write, and add and subtract, and our 8th graders are more proficient in math, and when you graduate from high school, your diploma means something. And the best place to start is to measure. And when you see a problem, fix it before it’s too late. When you find an inner-city kid that may not have the right curriculum to get he or she up to the grade level at the 4th grade, let’s solve it now; let’s now wait. No Child Left Behind is working, and it needs to be reauthorized by the United States Congress. (Applause.) …


Thanks for letting me come. God bless. (Applause.)

END 9:57 A.M. EDT

The final USDOE archived offering, dated June 14, 2001, is entitled, “Charter Schools Prompting Improvements in School Districts According to Two US Department of Education Reports.”

Charter school expansion gained favored status in NCLB and was even included as an option for replacing

I bolded three sections. The first highlights a desperation for traditional school districts to hold onto funding necessary to operate. The second acknowledges some problems of charter school oversight but quickly dismisses oversight issues with “when it works, it works.”

The third I initially found puzzling: Schools learning to “base accountability on performance rather than compliance.” I suppose it means that achieving desired test scores is what matters, not the good faith efforts to try to (force?) students to produce higher test scores. (I don’t think advocates of the “performance vs. compliance” would frame it as such, but it the end, the test scores are what matters to test-score-driven reformers.)


Archived Information

June 14, 2001
CONTACT: Melinda Kitchell Malico
(202) 401-1008

Secretary’s Speech at Manhattan Institute

New research reports from the U.S. Department of Education show that charter schools are helping public schools and districts to improve.

One new report shows that school districts are changing their educational services and operations in response to the creation of charter schools in those districts — suggesting that competition can play a positive role in helping to improve all public schools.

A second report shows that strong accountability can lead to better instruction and improved schools. The report argues that traditional school districts can learn important lessons from the charter school experience about how to hold all public schools accountable for results.

The reports are entitled Challenge and Opportunity: The Impact of Charter Schools on Districts and A Study of Charter School Accountability

“Charter schools offer meaningful options for parents and their children — particularly for those children who would otherwise be left behind in low-performing schools,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige during a speech today at the Manhattan Institute in New York City. “The good news is that charter schools do not just help the students they serve directly, they also prod the entire system to improve. The districts studied are responding to competition by listening to parents, adding programs at other public schools, and more closely examining student achievement to determine what needs to be done to improve it. This means better schools for all of our children.”

Charter schools are public schools that are freed from many state and local regulations and rules but are held accountable for improving student achievement. To date, some 2,100 charter schools have been formed in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the 36 states that have passed charter school authorizing legislation.

“The President’s solid support for charter schools, coupled with bipartisan Congressional backing, will help expand public school choice and provide more options for children and parents,” Paige said. “In turn, districts will respond with improved student achievement.”

Challenge and Opportunity: The Impact of Charter Schools on Districts surveyed district leaders’ perspectives on changes attributed to charter schools. The study is the largest review to date conducted of the impact of charter schools on school systems. The study is based on interviews and site visits to 49 school districts in Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts and Michigan.

Positive changes cited by these districts included:

  • adding an educational program at existing schools, such as all-day kindergarten;
  • opening a specialty school, such as gifted or dropout programs;
  • being more responsive to parents and improving communication;
  • offering character education or a specialized curriculum.

Some districts reported reduced revenue resulting from students who had transferred from regular district schools to charter schools. But according to the report, these same districts made the most effort to win back children and families through changes to the system.

A Study of Charter School Accountability is the first extensive, nationwide study of charter school accountability. Researchers spent two years (1997-1999) studying 150 charter schools, and interviewing school staff, state officials and representatives of 60 state and local authorizing agencies. The report concludes that external accountability — being answerable to an oversight authority — promotes internal accountability — including productive working relationships and better coordination among teachers, administrators and students.

“The President’s education proposal, No Child Left Behind, will move all public schools towards a focus on results and away from concentrating on rules and regulations,” Paige added. “Charter schools are leading the way by illustrating that the best way to gain the confidence of families, teachers and supporters is to focus on quality instruction.”

Other findings include:

  • Creating governing boards, which are often the official oversight mechanism for charter schools, and establishing a good division of responsibility between board and staff, is very challenging for many charter schools. When this relationship works well, however, it strengthens internal accountability.
  • Agencies that watch over charter schools struggle to learn how to base accountability on performance rather than compliance. New organizations created to oversee charter schools–special offices in universities, school districts and state governments–learn their jobs relatively quickly, while conventional school district offices have trouble breaking long-established habits of detailed compliance-oriented oversight.

The impact study is part of the department’s four-year national evaluation of charter schools, prepared under contract with the Office of Educational Research and Improvement by RPP International, Emeryville, Calif., and the accountability study was prepared under contract by the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington.

NOTE TO EDITORSChallenge and Opportunity: The Impact of Charter Schools on Districts is available at: A Study of Charter School Accountability is available at: Copies are also available by calling 1-877-4ED-PUBS.

NCLB failed. One cannot punish students and teachers into a warped, high-test-score, market-styled-school utopia.

Though NCLB is gone, America has yet to learn this lesson.

getschooled test


Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.