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DeVos’ “Message from the Secretary” Link Features… Arne Duncan.

The US Department of Education website needs updating– comically so.

If one clicks on the link, “An Overview of the US Department of Education,” and follows the link, “What is the US Department of Education?,” one finds a page that has not been updated since September 2010– and which cites student enrollment from 2007-08.

The page entitled, “The Federal Role in Education,” (located under “Mission,”) does include a link to Trump’s FY2018 budget requests for education. And also under the heading of “Mission,” the site also notes the supposed role of the US Secretary of Education:

 …The Secretary and the Department play a leadership role in the ongoing national dialogue over how to improve the results of our education system for all students. This involves such activities as raising national and community awareness of the education challenges confronting the Nation, disseminating the latest discoveries on what works in teaching and learning, and helping communities work out solutions to difficult educational issues.

As recently noted in July 2017 in Vanity Fair, the current US ed sec, Betsy DeVos, prefers not to engage in dialogues about education as her Department refuses requests from journalists, often simply ignoring such requests, and she refuses to do interviews with the press and declines to speak at organizations where one might well expect the press to be represented, such as the Education Writers Association. Moreover, her times to make herself available to the press tend to be brief, unannounced ahead of time, and in obscure locations.

Instead, DeVos prefers to speak via formal speech, and in her formal speeches, she is forever campaigning for school choice, particularly in the form of vouchers, tax credits, and education savings accounts.

DeVos does not “disseminate what works in teaching and learning.” She campaigns for school choice, and in her campaigning, she makes it clear that she does not support a “system” of public schools.

She twists the words of those who support a system of public schools for all students into a lack of caring for *individual* students even as she criticizes American public education as “a system created in the 1800s.”

If longevity is obscene to DeVos, she had best ditch the Constitution itself because it predates the 1800s.

Even so, she declares that certain longevity is okay since it is tied to her– and leads to her ever-present campaign platform of school choice, which she frames as “state-based advocacy” in her July 20, 2017, speech to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC):

I’m no stranger to state-based advocacy; it was a primary focus of mine for 30 years before I entered public service.

But that brings us to an interesting (and should be, an embarrassing) point for DeVos, whose certainly-ironic “public service” as US ed sec began on February 07, 2017, with a VP tie-breaking vote in the predominately-Republican Senate:

According to her own USDOE website– which has been hers for almost six months as of this writing– the US Secretary of Education is still ARNE DUNCAN.

arne duncan  Arne Duncan

Yep. The USDOE “Overview” link entitled, “A Message from the Secretary,” was last modified on October 09, 2015, and is still Arne Duncan’s greeting:

USED Duncan greeting

((Awkward silence.))

It’s not like DeVos hasn’t done anything to the USDOE website. But like her support for the traditional public school, DeVos’ website revamps to date have been superficial at best.

For example, one can find a new home page that has DeVos as US ed secretary.

Moreover, one can even find a resurfaced Individuals with Disabilities Acts (IDEA) link– which still connects to the old IDEA link– which now has a message at the top telling a person to just return to the information-bereft link he/she just left.

DeVos’ revamped IDEA website is cosmetic. It is not the place to go for detailed information on IDEA, just as she is not the person to go to for an understanding of IDEA (see here and here).

But back to that DeVos-revised, USDOE home page:

If one clicks on the “about us” link at the top of the new home page, one arrives here, where one can click on the “Overview” link and then read Arne Duncan’s letter, “A Message from the Secretary.”

Oops.

betsy devos 3  Betsy DeVos

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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?.

both books

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

US Ed Sec Betsy DeVos Endorses the ALEC System

On July 20, 2017, US ed sec Betsy DeVos addressed the lunch crowd at the Denver, Colorado, meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Her presence was withheld from ALEC’s online conference speaker listing as well as its online conference agenda.

Here are excerpts from DeVos’ opening of her speech:

It’s good to be here at ALEC, with so many friends and quality leaders shaping policy across all 50 states. …

I’m no stranger to state-based advocacy….

You have led the way in helping states across the nation craft innovative solutions to today’s problems: in healthcare, taxes, regulations, entitlements, and importantly, education.

What DeVos refers to as “state-based advocacy” is actually advocacy for model legislation approved by ALEC.

DeVos does not want states to do what individual states want. She wants states to pass ALEC-endorsed, model legislation– which includes vouchers, tax credit scholarships, and education savings accounts.

ALEC is the DeVos-preferred system. Sure, she plays it off as being interested in the individual child and as promoting parents-know-best-for-their-children.

But there is no parent membership to ALEC.

ALEC is DeVos’ system of choice.

ALEC has been around since 1973, but it was not until 2012 that the group’s activities became public knowledge. And ALEC liked it that way.

ALEC is a sophisticated system, one that purports to promote “states’ rights” and shuns “federal overreach,” but what ALEC really wants is to supplant any federal role with its own corporate-friendly agenda and to entice legislators to promote that agenda by, among other things, providing multiple conferences per year, conferences that can easily double as posh family vacations for the legislators involved– even as these conferences provide repeated opportunities for corporate America to meet with those legislators.

ALEC is comprised of two primary groups: corporations and state legislators (there are other members, including nonprofits). The corporations pay thousands of dollars a year ($7,000 to $25,000) to belong to ALEC (with membership to each legislation-writing, -directing, and -promoting task force costing an additional $5,000 per year), but the legislators pay only $100 for a two-year membership and get to sit on task forces for free.

ALEC currently has nine task forces:

  • Civil Justice
  • Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development
  • Communications and Technology
  • Criminal Justice Reform
  • Education and Workforce Development
  • Energy, Environment, and Agriculture
  • Health and Human Services
  • International Relations and Federalism
  • Tax and Fiscal Policy

Task force meetings are held at ALEC conferences and are closed meetings. Prior to meeting, the ALEC task forces send legislators the proposed model legislation to be considered at a given ALEC conference. (When I began researching ALEC in 2012, these mailouts were done 35 days prior to a given conference.)

The task forces are where ALEC writes/approves the corporate-friendly “model legislation” that legislators then can take back to their statehouses (like the worker ants that they are) and get credit for promoting the corporate-approved legislation as the legislator’s own work. The corporate task force members and the legislative task force members vote on official ALEC approval of this model legislation, which then becomes the officially ALEC-endorsed legislation that ALEC actively promotes, even including talking points for legislators to sell the ALEC product in statehouses nationwide.

(For more detailed background on ALEC, see this post.)

As for Betsy DeVos’ ALEC speech, much of it is typical DeVos (central focus on school choice, especially vouchers/tax credits; anecdotes to promote choice; tossing around the term, “status quo”; and some statement that begins with, “Let me be clear”). But she also is in front of an audience that is a homecoming, so this speech is easy-breezy for her.

This is no press conference. She will not be challenged in the moment on any point.

Even as she sails on ironic winds of federalism before fed-supplanting ALEC, DeVos is also using the opportunity to pitch for the Trump agenda on health care– a Washington, DC, issue that one could say is floundering precisely because some legislators are thinking on the state level.

But enough of that. I leave the bulk of her speech for those who wish to read at their leisure.

Still, keep in mind these words of hers from her ALEC speech, remembering that she is addressing corporate-minded, legislator-toadied ALEC:

 And the next reforms won’t originate from Washington, DC: they’ll come from you. …

My job is to get the federal government out of the way, so that you can do your jobs.

Betsy DeVos has no problem with ALEC’s supplanting the federal government and calling it the work of the states.

United States of ALEC.

betsy devos  Betsy DeVos

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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?.

both books

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

ALEC Chooses to Omit US Ed Sec Betsy DeVos from Its 2017 Conference Speaker Listing

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is holding its 44th Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, from July 19-21, 2017.

US ed sec Betsy DeVos is supposed to speak at ALEC on Thursday. However, ALEC has chosen to exclude her from its listing of conference speaker profiles.

DeVos’ name is also missing from ALEC”s conference agenda posted on its website.

Perhaps this is one means of ALEC’s trying to hide DeVos from expected protests for her presence there and involvement with ALEC. Nevertheless, her presence as a lunchtime speaker on July 20, 2017, has been confirmed by an ALEC spokesperson.

Even as ALEC tries to downplay DeVos’ presence at its conference, ALEC continues to obviously promote its views regarding American education— including five “key points” for the legislators it commands:

An excellent education has long been recognized as key to the American Dream. Unfortunately, the current monopolistic and expensive K-12 education system is failing our students, leaving them unprepared for college, careers, or life. Similarly, our higher education system is leaving students with higher debt burdens and fewer career guarantees than ever before.

While the left argues that our ailing public education system can be fixed with ever-greater quantities of taxpayer dollars, the more than $600 billion we currently spend nationwide reflects a large increase in funds over the last 30 years, in exchange for total stagnation – or worse, declines – in achievement. On the college level, subsidies meant to help college students struggling to pay tuition have instead caused prices to skyrocket well above inflation.

Instead of throwing more money at the problem, it’s time to let parents take back control over their children’s educations by allowing them to apply competitive pressure to schools and educational providers. Innovative, parent-empowering choices such as charter schools, voucher programs, tax credit scholarships, homeschool, and education savings accounts allow each child the opportunity to reach his or her potential. In higher education, greater transparency is needed to ensure that students and parents know what they are paying for, and with what prospects they are likely to graduate.

Instead of endless top-down mandates, these revolutionary inroads into the education system are coming from the states. Forty-two states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books allowing charter schools to operate, while half the states have some form of private school choice program. The states should continue to expand parent choice and push educational institutions to compete with each other to provide the best product, just like providers of any other service.

***

Key Points

  • Citizens, legislators, and regulators should separate the concept of public education from the monopolistic delivery system and embrace 21st-century methods of connecting students with learning experiences.
  • Legislators should improve or pass charter school laws, striking a balance between innovation, autonomy, and accountability.
  • Legislators should create or expand the type(s) of school choice program that best suits their state: vouchers, tax credit scholarships, homeschooling, and education savings accounts.
  • Legislators and regulatory agencies should be wary of attempts to re-regulate innovative and/or private educational options, which could expose them to the death of the thousand bureaucratic cuts and sacrifice the freedoms that allow them to succeed.
  • Institutions of higher education should be transparent about what outcomes students can expect and how much money they will have to spend or borrow.

Note that the last point excludes any suggested legislator action and in effect suggests, “Legislators, stay out of this one and leave higher ed to regulate itself on pinky promises.”

DeVos is already on that one as she is stalling on instituting guidelines designed to hold accountable for-profit colleges and non-degree programs accountable. And she says she’ll be rewriting those rules. As a result of her actions, 19 attorneys general are suing her.

But my favorite is the fourth point (italicized); allow me to translate:

“Give the public money (vouchers, etc.) to the private schools, no strings attached, and call it freedom. And be sure to err in favor of deregulation when striking that regulatory balance suggested in Point Two.”

As for monopolies, DeVos is selectively fine with them, like she is with her handing all federal student loans over to a single company. No choice there, but lots of power and profit potential.

And when it comes to DeVos and school choice, well, that’s her only channel. Education chronicler Jennifer Berkshire terms DeVos’ “vision” as one of “hyper-individualism… that fares best in the abstract.” Berkshire also notes that DeVos is a “notoriously reporter-averse education secretary”– a timely observation given the absence (removal?) of DeVos even from the publicized ALEC conference speaker list.

But don’t be fooled, America: When it comes to ALEC’s views on education, DeVos is all in.

Indeed, the ALEC agenda suits DeVos so well that she could probably just read ALEC’s education web page as her lunchtime speech. I’m sure that what she has to say will fit ALEC’s education agenda like a privileged hand in a corporate-serving glove.

betsy devos 2  Betsy DeVos

_____________________________________________________________________________________

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?.

both books

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

About La. Supt. John White’s Father, Peter A. White (And More)

In June 2017, FutureEd, “an independent think tank at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy,” published this interview with Louisiana state superintendent John White.

john white 4  John White

In the interview, White pitched school vouchers by implying that he attended school via a particular kind of “voucher” as he hinted that since his father was a lawyer and could afford private school tuition:

 …I think conservatives undermine what is a very legitimate moral case, a moral case that I happen to agree with, when they are averse to clear controls that allow serving every child, and that allow for a statistical base of evidence as to whether or not a school is a good school or not.

On the left, I think that you have a greater moral hypocrisy. If you have a good school, they’re willing to serve all kids, they’re showing that they’re effective on the same tests as every other school is taking. What is your problem, at that point, with letting that family make the choice? That’s a particular brand of hypocrisy, given how many leaders on the left who advocate this position, have themselves or have had family members who are the beneficiaries of a private education. I got a private school voucher when I was a kid. It’s called the My Dad’s A Lawyer private school voucher. So it’s hard for me to understand how social liberals can square that fact with people of lesser means not being able to exercise the same liberties.

One of the big “ifs,” of course, involves the right of the private schools to make the first choice of not participating. And if the best private schools did participate, the cost alone would quickly break the public-tax-funded bank.

White attended St. Albans School (Washington, DC); the 2015-16 tuition without board was $41,000 (not including the one-time $1,850 registration fee). The school does offer need-based financial aid, with the average 2015-16 grant covering 68 percent of the tuition cost.

Furthermore, it isn’t as though private schools of the caliber of St. Albans are seeking to become part of the Louisiana voucher program, which, according to a 2017 report, has voucher students, after three years, at best breaking even with public school students on those ever-watched standardized tests.

But what particularly caught my attention in White’s “my dad’s a lawyer” voucher pitch is that he leveraged ever so small a tidbit about his own background in order to campaign for his desired reforms even as he actively conceals his family background from any published bio.

It’s as though John Charles White just dropped out of the sky, unparented and with only the sketchiest hints at his personal connections.

Thus, it was White’s “my dad’s a lawyer voucher” comment in that Georgetown University think tank interview that prompted me to begin researching his family background, a quest that resulted posts about his omitting his then-wife from years of his annual ethics filings and his establishing a serious romantic relationship with another reformer in a leadership position of an organization that benefits from White’s promoting it as superintendent.

Yet my original quest, mind you, was to discover more behind White’s comment, “my dad’s a lawyer.”

And so, what I offer in this post is some family background on John White, most of which is on John White’s father, Peter A. White, who was indeed a lawyer who actually worked for the special prosecutor of the Watergate scandal and the lesser-known “Koreagate” (more on this to come).

And I did learn that John White’s grandfather, Charles Allen White, served in Third Army (under George Patton) during World War II, as did my father. Both John White’s grandfather and my father were born in 1918. John White’s grandfather was a surgeon in the 90th Division, and my father was a master chef in the 71st Division.

Like John White’s father, his uncle, Charles L. “Chuck” White II, is also a lawyer. (See Chuck White’s Linkedin bio here.) Chuck once served as deputy legal counsel to former North Carolina governor, Jim Hunt and is also a former district court judge.

For the remainder of this lengthy post, I offer excerpts on Peter White, who changed careers mid-life.

I begin with a couple of pieces that provide pretty good bio sketches on Peter White, then I proceed in chronological order, presenting excerpts from articles and interviews related to Peter White.

The first offering is from Peter Karoff and Jane Maddox’s book, The World We Want: New Dimensions in Philanthropy and Social Change (2007; page 235):

Early in his career as a lawyer, Peter worked on the Watergate scandal and later joined Fulbright & Jaworski, the high-powered Washington law firm whose senior partner, Leon Jaworski, had been the Watergate special prosecutor. Peter’s career took off, and he quickly became successful in the way the world looks at success– lots of money, prestige, an even some fame. But for reasons he could not understand at the time, he was miserable. …His life went into a tailspin that ended in… a career in shambles.

As he slowly put himself back together…, Peter began a second career, quite unique, counseling very wealthy families about the meaning of wealth.

Next comes another brief bio sketch for Peter White, from xoxoxpress.com book author bio (no date; likely 2008 or later):

PeterWhite

Peter White

Peter White is the former chairman of U.S. Trust Bank in Manhattan. Upon his retirement from the bank, Peter published Ecology of Being, a deeply insightful assembly of reflections upon the primacy of meaning in our direct experience. Distilling human nature, purpose and destiny into a clear sense of basic being in a framework of underlying beliefs, Ecology of Being taps into intuitive knowledge to clear the path for conscious and positive action in one’s life. Peter divides his time between Gambier, Ohio and Montana.

Interestingly, if one peruses the comments section of Peter White’s book, Ecology of Being, on Amazon.com, one finds a  reviewer’s comment from a “Teacher John” who happened to reside in Chicago in 2006….

Um….

As to the earlier reference to “Koreagate”: From the 1978 Washington Post article on the post-Watergate, “Koreagate” scandal:

When South Korean businessman Tongsun Park sat before the television cameras at a House hearing in April and ticked off his long list of payments – mostly in cash – to some 30 members of Congress, his unsavory litany didn’t impress many.

Most of the largesse Park passed out in little white envelopes had been detailed before by the press in months of front-page headlines. Fewer than 10 members were seriously implicated by his testimony – far less than the 115 that had been predicted in one New York Times account. And those most incriminated were no longer in Congress.

In the months since, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct has filed and heard charges of misconduct against four colleagues.

The panel voted to recommend that Edward R. Roybal (D-Calif.) be censured and that Charles H. Wilson (D-Calif.) and John J. McFall (D-Calif.) be reprimanded. If found Edward J. Patten (D-N.J.) not guilty.

Supporters of those accused complained that the committee was “grading on the curve” because those most guilty were beyond the reach of House discipline.

Now the committee apparently has quietly given up all hope of getting information from King Dong Jo, the former Korean ambassador suspected of conducting a cash-based lobbying campaign similar to Park’s. …

But the former Watergate special prosecutor [Leon Jaworski] was stymied by the diplomatic immunity that protected the former ambassador. The Korean investigation was tougher than Watergate, Jaworski said, because Kim and other key witnesses could not be reached by American law, as President Nixon’s tapes had been. …

“It is probable that there are people on the Hill who ought to be exposed but haven’t been,” for want of Kim testimony, said Peter A. White, Jaworski’s deputy.

And more on Peter White’s work in advising and counseling the very rich (whether old money or new):

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, 1991:

Janet and Richard Hack… have received no less than three inheritances in the last five years. …

The biggest unknown, however, is what the next generation will do with the money when they get it– spend or save.

For the Hacks, who’ve bought their cars with cash and paid off their credit card bills each month, habits of thrift die hard. … Richard recalls “a stern lecture from my dad telling me not to sit around waiting to get a lot from him.”

Lectures like that often hit their mark, says Peter White, president of International Skye Associates, a firm that advises wealthy families on how to cope with legacies. “Kids tend to do what they see their parents doing,” says White. “If parents spend, kids will spend. If parents save, kids save.

Interestingly enough, Peter White discusses having an “aha” moment regarding “telling the truth.” (It seems that son John has not as yet so “aha-ed.”)

Business Growth Alliance, c. 1997:

Old Money, New Meaning

After family money has been passed down to two or more generations, the issues change and often “soften.” The big question becomes, ultimately, What is the relationship between wealth and happiness? And here, too, help is available.

With his silver hair and steel-rimmed glasses, Peter A. White looks a little like Steve Martin. He dresses in the uniform of big business–dark suit and somber tie-yet radiates the kind of serenity more often associated with gums than executives. His offices in Washington, D.C., make visitors feel at home: chintz curtains, leather-covered wing chairs, family snapshots and a little sign on the mantelpiece that says “No Whining. “Like Roy Williams, Peter White is a good listener. You feel his intensity and compassion. In the end, you trust him enough to sense that he can help you confront the scariest subject you know: your inadequacies.

White was born fifty-two years ago in Toledo, Ohio, the son of a doctor. He grew up in Cleveland, went to Kenyon College and Duke law school, then began his career as an attorney. He burned with ambition: “I wanted to be famous.” So he went to Washington, D.C., in 1972, where he worked, in succession, on the Watergate case, a Federal Trade Commission investigation of the biggest oil companies in the U.S. and the “Koreagate” scandal. “I was,” he recalls, “riding a real wave. I had a great job, a young family, a nice house. I was escalating” Escalating but also unsatisfied and unhappy–White didn’t know why. Psychiatry did not seem to help, and alcohol certainly did not, either. Finally, in 1981, his wife asked him to go to Alcoholics Anonymous. There, he eventually met a mentor, an older man, who one day suggested to him, “Why don’t you try telling the truth?” Lightning struck, says White “and that led me to a place where I felt relatively free.” He practiced law less and less and, in 1986, opened his own business-consulting firm, naming it International Skye, after the remote, storm-lashed Scottish island.

A breakthrough job came the next year, when the Rockefellers hired him to look into the efficiency of their family office. (Typically, a family office handles a wealthy family’s financial affairs-investments, accounting, insurance–and plays an important role in maintaining a sense of clan.

“Let’s see what other families are doing in this area ” White suggested, and he set up a meeting with representatives from eleven offices. “The first item on the agenda was that everybody around the table would talk about his family office and the challenges he saw. That item alone took one full day. I could see that I was pretty good at engendering this sort of conversation.” Presto, another wealth consultant!

Unfortunately for Peter White, others with much greater resources-most notably, the Harris Trust Co. of Chicago–also began to hold conferences for their affluent clients, exposing them to expert speakers like Roy Williams. Rather than compete directly White started consulting on cutting-edge issues: the idea of acceptable risk, private investing, how to start up a family office. Gratifyingly, the big family offices paid heed; most of them signed up for “membership” in International Skye.

Wealth Consultants

Today, each member pays $ 10,000 per year and gets in return whatever he wants of Peter White’s time, common sense and questing instinct. What the Pitcairn (Pittsburgh Plate Glass) family wants is news. “The genius of Peter White is that he’s created a safe place for family members and professionals of family offices to come together and learn about wealth management,” says Dirk Junge, chairman of the Pitcairn family office in Philadelphia. “This is a unique and valuable forum.” Another Skye member, a patrician East Coast family, wants to keep communication in the family open. “Until Peter helped us,” explains the matriarch, “we had lost the ability to take the time to be together.” Yet another client just wants to have Peter around. “We are paying $10,000 to be your friends,” he told White. “Right,” White shot back. “And it’s a bargain.”

Orlando Business Journal, 1999:

DAYTONA BEACH — Upchurch Watson & White [no relation to Peter White], a 2-year-old, 24-lawyer Daytona Beach-based firm, has formed Family Enterprise Center, an innovative mentoring division for family-owned business owners.

“We’re not competing with CPAs or with lawyers,” says Peter A. White, a nationally recognized counselor and negotiator who is chairing the section.

“When decisions are made about family-owned businesses, many of them are made in the most emotional context, rather than a rational context,” says White. “We try to show the client how to make those decisions rationally.”

And that isn’t always easy, says the former deputy special counsel to Leon Jaworski.

“You have the older generation often hesitant to let go of a business … the eldest son scenario … the growing presence of women in business … and the ultimate decision of who is really best to head the business into the next generation,” says White.

Chronicle of Philanthropy, 2000 (“Helping the Rich to be Happy, Too”):

Peter White helps rich people find happiness. …

Mr. White gave up a successful law practice to start a consulting business, called International Skye. His clients are from some of this country’s richest families. Their net worth totals billions of dollars and their donations to charity are worth hundreds of millions. The Rockefeller family numbers among Mr. White’s regulars, who pay $10,000 for a year of his counseling. …

Topics in his private and group counseling sessions include overcoming family communication problems, guilt about wealth, and finding a deeper meaning in life. …

Most of the clients are third-, fourth-, or fifth-generation descendants of their family’s original entrepreneur. Mr. White notes that those who inherit riches, rather than earn them, are most in need of “blossoming.”

“These younger people are in tremendous need of being what I call disenthralled from wealth,” he says. “The problem is, when the wealth is part of who you are, you’re marching not to your own drummer but usually to someone else’s. You’ll be less yourself than your father or whoever controls the purse strings.”

Financial Times, 2004:

Perhaps the hardest choice for a billionaire is how to transfer their wealth. Citigroup’s Peter White says it is never too early to begin thinking about how wealth will affect one’s family in the future, especially when children are involved. “The first issue is: What do I think is important for kids growing up? And how will wealth affect that?”

White says parents must decide whether they want to transfer wealth to their children. If they do, they have to know what they are trying to accomplish by doing so. “The most important thing for kids is to find meaning in their lives,” says White. “The transfer of wealth to young people can be a positive influence, but only in a limited way.” What he means is that a child might want to be an artist or filmmaker and having money might make that easier, but money won’t necessarily fulfill them.

White says parents who think only about how much money should be given to their children, what restrictions should be in place, and when the children should be told how wealthy they are, are not seeing the wood for the trees.

“In fact, I don’t think those are the right questions,” says White. He suggests first thinking about whether children have a sense of themselves. “Money is a magnifier,” he says. “If people are missing a sense of themselves life will kick them in the rear end and make them fix themselves. But with money, people can be propelled into middle or old age and still not have a sense of who they are.” The real issue to be discussed, White says, is: “How good are the parents as parents?”

White provides his services to clients free of charge. He can handle everything from a brief meeting to multi-day family workshops. Sometimes he ends up going to the home of a client because he wants to get together in an environment where they are comfortable, where they can get at the real issues. “You need to find out what people want,” says White. “Very often a person who has made a billion dollars, or has wanted a billion dollars, has not thought of much else. A lot of people who commit themselves to making a ton of money have their own needs that they are trying to meet.”

Investment News, 2005:

U.S. Trust Corp.in New York has named Frances Aldrich Sevilla-Sacasa, 49, president, and Peter White, 60, vice chairman. …

Mr. White, who was managing director of the family advisory practice at Citigroup Private Bank, will be responsible for advising U.S. Trust clients and will serve as a company spokesman on issues related to the personal side of wealth, such as succession planning for family businesses, raising affluent children, inheritance, and family unity and legacy.

Note that US Trust is described in the 2006 Financial Times as “a traditional investment manager for the very wealthy.”

The next piece struck me as hmmm… because its writer chose to use the name “Peter” as a false name in a scenario about a workaholic– then the writer actually quotes a real man named Peter (Peter White, of course). From Forbes, 2006:

(“Peter” is a pseudonym, but his story–and that of other wealthy workaholics–is very real.)

The son of a modest Texas farmer, Peter wanted a bigger, grander life than his father led, and he worked hard to get it. By age 30, he was running a regional bank and had a wife and two kids.

Over the next two decades, he moved his family 12 times–twice overseas. At 50, he was president of a large financial services firm in New York City. He owned a restored Georgian in a leafy suburb, a ski chalet in Telluride and a small compound in the Caribbean. He traveled for work incessantly, with limousines and Gulfstreams at his beck and call. His board connections led to bids at the most exclusive golf clubs. Peter had become a bona-fide world beater.

Then, one day, his wife of 30 years declared: “I don’t love you anymore. I need a new life.” His kids piled on, saying he’d never “been there” for them. After logging three-quarters of each year on the road, Peter realized he had no real friends to confide in. He got divorced, drank heavily and eventually left his job.

Peter’s net worth had crossed the eight-figure mark years before his life unraveled. He could have hopped off the hamster wheel with plenty of time and riches to spare. And yet he kept running. …

To be sure, some wealthy workaholics really do enjoy their work. Yet “there is a difference between ‘I love what I do’ and ‘I can’t conceive of doing something else,’” says Peter White, vice chairman of U.S. Trust and former managing director at Citigroup‘s private bank. “One is a volunteer; the other is a prisoner.”

As an adviser on personal issues of wealth, from philanthropic donations to family relationships, White has seen his share of prisoners–people who have accomplished everything but nevertheless are working very hard and wondering why. The disturbing answer: Work becomes a substitute for greater meaning in their lives.

Next is a bio on Peter White in Tiger 21 (“{The Investment Group for Enhanced Results in the 21st Century} provides Members with powerful perspective – their own personal board of directors made up of visionaries, executives, entrepreneurs, and investors; the best minds and resources in the world at your service. Our Members are accomplished wealth creators from every industry and every geography.”) (presenter program bio archived from 2006):

Peter White, Vice Chairman of U.S. Trust, is an educator and adviser to clients of the firm on the human aspects of wealth management, including succession in family enterprise, raising children in material abundance, family governance and strategic planning, and long-term family unity. Mr. White is concerned primarily with the relationship between material abundance and meaning. All of his work places meaning at the core of human existence and endeavor. Mr. White founded a consulting and educational firm, International Skye, in 1986. The firm is best known for the Skye Summer Institute, which is an educational program for young adults centered on responsibility and competence in living a purposeful life. He served from 1992 to 1999 as senior adviser to Bankers Trust Company, where he helped design and develop a program called “Wealth with Responsibility.” From 1999 to July 2005, he served as managing director of Family Advisory Practice at Citigroup Private Bank. Mr. White was visiting professor of Ethics and Family Enterprise at Stetson University and founding director of the Stetson Family Business Center from 1997 to 2000. He is the author of Ecology of Being, published in January 2006. He is a trustee of The Kenyon Review and is a practicing fellow at the Institute for Servant Leadership, in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Peter White received his bachelor’s degree from Kenyon College, with high honors in English Literature, and his juris doctor from Duke University. After his graduation from Duke, he served as law clerk to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio and spent the next 16 years in the practice of law. His career included service with the Federal Trade Commission and a special counsel assignment with the U.S. House of Representatives, but most of his practice was as a partner in the law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski in Washington, D.C. He left the practice of law to form International Skye in 1986.

And now, excerpts from an interview in The Periodic Ponderance, a publication of the Wealth Conservancy (“Honoring your worth/Taking care of your wealth”), 2012:

peterwhite3   Peter White

[Interviewer] Myra [Salzer] begins the interview by asking Peter about living a split life between New York and Montana.

Peter: [My life] isn’t so split anymore. For a while I was living in New York City and working for US Trust. Now, although I continue to have a consulting relationship with US Trust, I’m no longer an employee so my time is more my own.

At the end of 2008 I moved from New York to Montana, where I had a part-time home, and made it a full-time home. I travel a fair amount to visit clients, but I live in Montana now.

Myra: You said you go out to meet with your clients: who are your clients? What do you do?

Peter: The clients are high-net-worth families who are in transition – or a transition is coming up or one has occurred – and the family is experiencing or anticipating difficulty because of family dynamics or personality differences. Most families lack experience in dealing effectively with the emotional issues a transition, like succession from one generation to another, can arouse. So they ask for advice about managing their way through the transition. I get involved by facilitating their conversation as a group, helping them separate the emotional from the rational so they can decide what they want to accomplish and how they want to work together to accomplish it. For example, how does a family that’s moving from a small group of stakeholders to a large one, as in succession from second to third generation, want to make decisions? By majority rule? By consensus? Who will have authority over what issues? Should there be a committee or a board structure? The engagements usually involve my staying with the family through the transition, and maybe into the next phase, as a facilitator and advisor on process and governance. …

Myra: Tell me a little bit about you; who you are, what your background is, what makes you tick, what are your passions?

Peter: I’ve had a lot of different experiences, both good and bad. I think it took me a very, very long time—longer than it takes most people—to come to some kind of understanding of who I am. I spent a number of years, particularly as a young adult when I was practicing law, trying to answer the question of who I am by achieving all kinds of exterior goals like gaining public acclaim and making a lot of money, thinking that those kinds of avenues would bring me the satisfaction and meaning I was missing.

When I had a bit of a midlife crisis in my late 30s, I began to look really intentionally at my life. I left the practice of law (I was a litigator) and began doing work, including work with wealthy families, that was more related to my personal journey. I discovered that a lot of people in the wealthy families I worked with were, like I had been, trying to find answers in places that are exterior to us as opposed to answers we can only find in our interiors, where the mind and spirit reside.

And, finally, a bio on Peter White, who received an award from alma mater, Kenyon College, in 2016:

THE GREGG CUP

Awarded to Peter A. White ’66 P’01

When he applied for admission to Kenyon, from Cleveland’s University School, this year’s recipient of the Gregg Cup identified law, nature, and the theater among his strongest interests. His noteworthy career at the College and his full and rewarding life in the years since have only deepened those interests while leading to a variety of new ones.

As a student at Kenyon, he majored in English, joined Delta Tau Delta fraternity and later served as its president, won membership in the Dramatic Club for his roles both on and off stage, and graduated cum laude with high honors in his major. He went on to earn a J.D. at Duke University, after which he returned home to serve as a clerk to the chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court. Following stints with two Cleveland law firms, he joined the famed Washington, D.C., office of Fulbright and Jaworski, where he quickly rose to partner status.

In 1986, he embarked on a new phase of his career when he founded International Skye Associates, addressing his longtime interest in philanthropy. He served as president of the firm and helped its clients, who were among the country’s richest families and individuals, come to understand what was important to them and plan their philanthropy, their volunteerism, and other aspects of their lives accordingly. Later, he joined Citibank to offer similar services through its private-banking office.

His efforts on behalf of his alma mater have been no less thoughtful. He has served on the boards of the Kenyon Review and the Philander Chase Conservancy, leading the latter for several years and serving as its representative on the College’s board. Today, we are honored to recognize his steadfast commitment with Kenyon’s highest alumni accolade.

Peter White, proud alumnus of the Class of 1966, devoted father, philosopher of philanthropy, dedicated volunteer for the College and other nonprofit causes and institutions, we are deeply in your debt. For all you have done for your alma mater, Kenyon’s alumni take great pleasure in presenting you with the Gregg Cup for 2016.

Well, there we have it: Well-briefed on John White’s “my dad’s a lawyer”– and more!

Picture colored in and today’s finished product scotch-taped to the fridge.

I know I feel much better.

fridge pic

_______________________________________________________________________________________

 

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?.

both books

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

Louisiana: Want John White Gone? Then Ask Gov. Edwards to Join Ganey Arsement’s Lawsuit as a Plaintiff

On July 10, 017, I attended the hearing regarding whether or not the plaintiffs in Ganey Arsement et al. vs. La. BESE have standing (i.e., the right to sue) for BESE’s having missed the deadline to submit La. state superintendent John White’s name for reconfirmation by the Louisiana senate. In short, BESE doesn’t have the 8 votes needed to renew White’s contract; so, BESE just ignored the issue beyond the June 08, 2017, deadline to have the senate reconfirm White.

The result of the July 10, 2017, hearing was that Judge Morvant ruled that none of the current plaintiffs have standing, or the right to sue.

But one person who does have that right is Governor John Bel Edwards, who made removing White a campaign promise “to the extent that I can control that.”

Well, JBE, here’s opportunity to “control that” being handed to you on the proverbial silver platter.

In an effort to win JBE’s support, Arsement is asking for the assistance of Louisiana voters who want White gone:

Monday July 10, 2017

Dear Supporters of Public Education,

Today we had our first hearing regarding the lawsuit filed against BESE. By now, you’ve probably seen the news reports that the case was “tossed out,” and John White can “keep his job.” This is not entirely true.

The judge determined that while our petition was for a “declaratory judgement,” the language crossed over into a “challenge to hold office,” which is reserved for the governor, the attorney general, the senate president, or the local district attorney; however, he dismissed the case “without prejudice,” meaning that we can appeal, or amend the petition to include one of those people as a plaintiff.

Here is where I need your help. The governor needs to hear from all of you that you want him to take action and join the suit as a plaintiff. Please consider taking a few minutes out of your day to let your voice be heard. You can take one, or both, of the following actions:

  1. Call the governor’s office at (866)366-1121. You may get the receptionist, or voicemail. Leave your name, your phone number, and your hometown. Tell them that you are ready for Louisiana to take a new direction in education and request that the governor join the suit against BESE as a plaintiff. Please include the name of your spouse, if you have one.
  2. Use the following link: EMAIL THE GOVERNOR. Fill out all of the blanks and select “other” on both questions. State in your message that you are ready for Louisiana to take a new direction in education and request that the governor join the suit against BESE as a plaintiff. Please include the name of your spouse, if you have one.

This action is urgent! Please don’t hesitate to take action by phone, email, or both. Share this email with all of your friends and family in your email contacts. We can do this, together.

Please reply by email (ganey@educatelouisiana.org) after you have done your part.

Thanks in advance!

Ganey Arsement

I emailed the governor only minutes before writing this post.

If you are a Louisiana voter who is ready for a new state superintendent, I hope you will join me in letting the governor know as much.

hourglass

_________________________________________________________________________________

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?.

both books

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

La. BESE Member Kira Orange Jones and NM Acting Chancellor Chris Ruszkowski Are Married.

In September 2016, Teach for America (TFA) Executive Director of the Greater New Orleans-Delta Region and Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) member, Kira Orange Jones, announced that she would be leaving her specific TFA post only to move into a higher post overseeing 15 TFA executive directors.

Orange Jones, who has been a solid corporate ed reform ally on Louisiana’s mostly corporate-ed-reform-bent BESE, assures the public that her new post will not alter her residency in New Orleans and will therefore allow her to retain her BESE seat. As Jessica Williams reports in the September 06, 2016, New Orleans Advocate:

Kira Orange Jones, the head of the local branch of the national teacher recruitment organization Teach For America and one of New Orleans’ representatives on the state’s top education board, said Friday she will leave her current job with TFA after nearly a decade.

“After nine and a half incredible years leading Teach For America Greater New Orleans-Louisiana Delta, I am launching the search for my successor,” Jones said in a Friday email to her colleagues.

She isn’t leaving the organization entirely, however. In her new role, she will manage and support the national organization’s executive directors across 15 regions, a job that will not require her to leave New Orleans, she said.

That means she’ll be able to keep the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education seat to which she was elected in 2011.

Orange Jones is one of several BESE members who garnered substantial out-of-state billionaire support for her campaign, both in 2011 and 2015. In 2011 as The Nation reports:

 Last fall, a coterie of extremely wealthy billionaires, among them New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, turned the races for unpaid positions on the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) into some of the most expensive in the state’s history. Seven pro-education “reform” candidates for the BESE outraised eight candidates endorsed by the teacher’s unions by $2,386,768 to $199,878, a ratio of nearly twelve to one. In just one of these races, the executive director of Teach for America Greater New Orleans-Louisiana Delta, Kira Orange Jones, outspent attorney Louella Givens, who was endorsed by the state’s main teacher’s unions, by more than thirty-four to one: $472,382 to $13,815.

To support Orange Jones’s campaign against Givens, Eli Broad, billionaire head of the education reform organization the Broad Foundation and a major trainer and placer of school superintendents, chipped in $5,000. Reed Hastings of Netflix kicked in the same. Houston energy hedge fund billionaire John Arnold and his wife Laura gave a total of $10,000, as did Walmart heiress Carrie Walton Penner and her husband Greg. New York City’s second-wealthiest man, Michael Bloomberg, contributed $10,000 as well.

And the out-of-state billionaire money into the 2015 BESE race outdid that of 2011, with Orange Jones again scoring big. An excerpt from the 2015 Times-Picayune:

Major education activist groups are again spending big on Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education races. More than $3.5 million has already come in to political action committees that support the Common Core standards and innovations such as charter schools and publicly funded vouchers.

It’s an astounding amount of money for a relatively obscure board. And the sum has already exceeded the 2011 BESE race — itself unprecedentedly expensive — even though it doesn’t count contributions made directly to candidates, nor most October spending. …

The national advocates are trying to avert a turnover of power on BESE that would reverse their wins of the last four years and put Louisiana Education Superintendent John White out of a job. …

Most of the contributions are being funneled through Baton Rouge businessman Lane Grigsby‘s Empower Louisiana political action committee. From July 17 to Oct. 4, contributions to the PAC totaled $2,175,750, according to state ethics reports. That included several familiar names in education philanthropy:

  • $800,000 from former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg
  • $625,000 from Action Now Initiative, a project of Laura and John Arnold, a former hedge fund manager
  • $400,000 from Alice and Jim Walton of the Wal-Mart Waltons
  • $250,000 from Eli Broad, founder of two Fortune 500 companies …

Stand for Children is also spending big. The group files with the state monthly; in September, it spent almost $400,000 on advertising for Boffy, incumbent Kira Orange Jones of New Orleans and challengers Jada Lewis of Baton Rouge and Gary Jones of Alexandria.

Education Reform Now Advocacy has spent almost $430,000, entirely on Lewis and Orange Jones. If you’ve received one (or many) Orange Jones mailers, they cost Education Reform Now Advocacy about $120,000 through Oct. 4.

Orange Jones’ presence on BESE raised ethical concerns that led to the eyebrow-raising 2013 resignation of the ethics vice chair who approved her TFA-connected presence on BESE.

But here she is, still, and she says she plans to remain in New Orleans despite her promotion.

But there is yet another complication:

In October 2016, Orange Jones married Chris Ruszkowski, the newly-appointed acting Commissioner of Education for the State of New Mexico.

CRKOJwedding

CR (Christopher Ruszkowski) & KOJ (Kira Orange Jones) wedding napkin/Instagram

In June 2017, New Mexico Commissioner Hanna Skandera officially exited her post, and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez announced that Deputy Secretary Ruszkowski would become acting commissioner.

So, here are a couple of questions:

  1. Where will Ruszkowski and Orange Jones primarily reside (or, where are they residing)?
  2. Will (are) they maintain two separate residences, with Ruszkowski primarily residing in New Mexico and Orange Jones, primarily residing in New Orleans, Louisiana?

If Orange Jones maintains that she has her permanent residence in Louisiana, she must file Louisiana tax return. The only way around this filing is to reside in Louisiana six months or less in a given tax year.

And if Orange Jones dips below six months of Louisiana residency (in her case, specifically in BESE District 2), then her BESE seat is a goner. BESE member eligibility requires that “the candidate shall be a resident of the district.”

As it stands, Orange Jones has yet to file her 2015 and 2016 Personal Financial Disclosures, and this disclosure is a form that she is supposed to file annually and that will be of particular interest in 2018 because the form pointedly asks public servants to acknowledge that they have filed a state income tax return for the previous year.

Got that? Orange Jones is two years behind on her annual personal financial disclosure filings. And as the New Orleans Tribune notes, her 2012 and 2013 disclosures were also filed late. Yet this behavior from Orange Jones apparently goes unaddressed.

After all, she is rather well-connected– perhaps even connected enough to hold a Louisiana BESE seat from New Mexico, if she so desires.

crkojwedding2

Christopher Ruszkowski and Kira Orange Jones, Telluride, Colorado, October 02, 2016/Instagram

____________________________________________________________________________________________

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?.

both books

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

John White and Katherine Westerhold

On October 01, 2015, the Times-Picayune published a social scene article entitled, “All You Need is NOMA’s Love in the Garden.”

As is usual for the society pages, names of notable attendees were published, including that of Louisiana state superintendent and the woman who accompanied him (underlining added):

Others enjoying the mood were NOMA Director Susan Taylor with husband, Paolo Meozzi, event co-chairs Robyn and Andrew Schwarz and Margaret and Pierre Villere, NOMA Volunteer Committee Chair Joni Diaz with Tommy Diaz, NOMA Board President Julie George and Ted George, Elizabeth and Clifton LeBlanc, David Edwards, Winnie and Mark Brown, Anne and Edmund Redd, Marshall Hevron, Beth and Austin Lavin, Celeste Marshall, Nicole Wright and David Francis, Bryant York and Elizabeth Porter York, Janet and Scott Howard, Mandie Landry, Cathy and Morris Bart, Penny and Al Baumer, Basi and Michael Carbine, Cammie Mayer, Kay McArdle and Joe Handlin, Penny Francis with daughter Casi, Taylor Morgan, Brent Wood, Lorena O’Neil and Max Vorhoff, Katherine Westerhold and John White, and Jennifer and John Rowland.

Interestingly, in an article about the same event appearing in the New Orleans Advocate almost two months later, in late November 2015, journalist Nell Nolan chose to alter White’s name, arguably to obscure his attendance at the event– and likely, his social connection to Katherine Westerhold (underlining added):

“Love” laurels were extended to Dawn DeDeaux, Tina Freeman, Susan Gisleson, Delaney Martin, Chandra McCormick and Keith Calhoun as the honored 2015 artists. Further brass were the event chair couples, Robyn and Andrew Schwarz and Margaret and Pierre Villere, and their committee of 92 LOVE-rs. Also, NOMA’s Montine McDaniel Freeman Director Susan M. Taylor and husband Paolo Meozzi, Cathy and Morris Bart, Penny and Al Baumer, Basi and Michael Carbine, Cammie Mayer, Kay McArdlle and Joe Handlin, Penny Francis and daughter Casi, Taylor Morgan, Rodney and Jane Besthoff Steiner, Valerie Besthoff, Lorena O’Neil and Max Vorhoff, Julie and Ted George, and Katherine Westerhold and Max White. Joni Diaz chairs the NOMA Volunteer Committee.

It turns out that Max White– I mean– John White and Katherine Westerhold are an item. From Westerhold’s Facebook page:

JWKW3

February 11, 2016

JWKW2

October 03, 2016 (Apparently taken at a wedding given the FB comments on pic.)

JWKW4

January 06, 2017

and this one, posted on July 10, 2017– and which surely does look like a wedding picture:

JWKWwedding

Nice pictures. They make me wish White were a decent guy.

So much for that.

Incidentally, on the day that Westerhold posted the above picture, I was in court in Baton Rouge for the hearing about whether Ganey Arsement et al’s lawsuit regarding BESE’s missing the senate deadline for White’s approval has standing. The judge decided that in order for the suit to have standing, one among a number of high-level individuals (e.g., the governor, attorney general, or president of the senate) needs to sign on to the suit. In this regard, Arsement is seeking the public’s help with contacting the governor.

But back to Katherine Westerhold.

In 2013, Westerhold was an employee at the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE). Her job title was “fellow,” and for that, she was paid $85,000. Though she was slated to be laid off according to this April 23, 2013, memo drafted by White, according to her resume (see page 68 of this September 2015 GNO, Inc., board meeting document), Westerhold remained employed with LDOE until April 2015. An excerpt:

The Louisiana Department of Education: Baton Rouge, LA September 2012 – April 2015

Deputy Chief of Staff, Recovery School District
Chief of Staff, Talent Office

• Built and executed a comprehensive plan for supporting 1400+ schools as they implemented state teacher and leader evaluation policies
• Guided the design of a district pilot program to reduce truancy in New Orleans and led the process of evaluating lessons learned in order to
inform on-going policies
• Managed the drafting and release of a policy report outlining lessons learned from early implementation of evaluation policies
• Co-led efforts to educate district constituents about new compensation legislation, oversaw the review and approval of each district’s overhauled
plan for compensating teachers, and managed relationship with technical assistance provider
• Provided staff and project management oversight to an office of 20+ employees, conducting weekly check-ins with multiple director-level staff,
coaching them through planning related to policy implementation and troubleshooting implementation-specific challenges

Westerhold also spent a year and a half connected to the Recovery School District (RSD) through The New Teacher Project (TNTP) (March 2010 – October 2011).

According to her Linkedin bio, Westerhold is currently the director of policy and government affairs with the Relay Graduate School of Education located in New Orleans.

Note that Chiefs for Change– now led by John White– is formally promoting Relay Graduate School of Education as part of state ESSA plans.

Relay is also on LDOE’s list for add-on certification providers, specifically for special education certification in mild-moderate.

So, White is basically using his superintendency to plug for use of the services of an ed nonprofit in which his girlfriend/fiancée/wife holds a leadership position. But there is more.

In March 2015, former LDOE data analyst Jason France wrote about how certain upper-level LDOE employees have offices in New Orleans– nice offices at 1615 Poydras Street:

LDOE employees with multiple offices

RSD no longer directly manages any schools, it just recruits them and “oversees” them. (New Schools for New Orleans is a non-profit that already does that.)  RSD’s employees are actually extensions of the LDOE. Many LDOE employees live in New Orleans and have offices in Baton Rouge and luxury offices in New Orleans. Many of LDOE’s executive employees live in New Orleans and do all their work from the RSD offices across from the Superdome, or from the privacy of their homes – as their exorbitant conference call bills will attest to.

Sources have relayed that a non-exhaustive list of employees operating this way are:

  • · Katherine Westerhold
  • · Hannah Dietsch
  • · Alicja Witkowski
  • · Taina Knox
  • · Rebecca Kockler
  • · Kunjan Narechania

What does RSD do with all their money?

What does RSD do with all its money you ask?  Well for one thing, they like to rent luxury office space in downtown New Orleans across from the Superdome.

RSD takes up the entire 14th floor at 1615 Poydras Street. …

…some amenities:

Encompassing 508,741 rentable square feet, the Class A Property is 85% leased and serves as the corporate headquarters for McMoRan Oil & Gas.

The property’s rent rolls are dominated by high profile, local, national and international corporations including Freeport-McMoRan, ANKOR Energy, U.S. Coast Guard, Gillis Ellis & Baker, Kuchler Polk Schell Weiner & Richeson, Usry Weeks & Matthews, Duplantier Hrapmann Hogan & Maher, First NBC Bank and Regus.

1615 Poydras accommodates an on-site restaurant, a barbershop and dry cleaning pick-up & delivery services.  Our location in the Central Business District (CBD) directly across from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, provides easy access to City Hall, hotels, Canal Street shopping and the historic French Quarter.  Tenants enjoy easy walking distance to the NFL Saints Champion Square and the world-class Mercedes-Benz Superdome directly across the street.

Man, who wouldn’t want a drycleaners with pickup and delivery service and a barbershop in their office building?

Check out the gorgeous marble and mahogany floors and enormous meeting rooms overlooking the city.

Who knew being a state worker could be such a sweet deal, especially amidst a 1.6 billion dollar deficit?

Out of curiosity, I googled the address of Relay Graduate School of Education in New Orleans.

1615 Poydras Street, Suite, Suite 820 (eighth floor)

Relay and LDOE are very close. But there is still more.

The sister of La. assistant superintendent Hannah Dietsch, Hallie Dietsch, works alongside Westerhold at Relay as director of operations for New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

In this link, Hallie Dietsch is trying to raise money for New Schools for Baton Rouge, and their students who were affected by the floods. New Schools for Baton Rouge promotes Teach for America (TFA), TNTP, and Relay Graduate School of Education. In the picture, below, she is seen with Westerhold.

Westerhold-Dietsch

 

From 2008-2011, Hallie Dietsch did a temp teaching stint with TFA in New Orleans. She completed her alternate certification with TNTP in 2009, the year before Westerhold, who has no teaching certificate, worked for TNTP.

Hallie Dietsch’s Louisiana teaching certificate expired in 2012. And why not? She no longer needs it.

But is does make more sense now why John White lied about having five years of teaching experience in an area of certification in order to get that La. ed admin level 3 certification to possibly become a local superintendent when his season as state superintendent ends:

He has a significant-relationship incentive to try to remain in Louisiana even as he continues to draw a notable six-figure salary.

This is a tight-knit group, folks, the size of which definitely exceeds this post.

Taxpayer-funded corporate ed reform in Louisiana is definitely the gift that keeps on giving to them.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

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?.

both books

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