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Email Details on John White, Gates, and inBloom

July 15, 2013

From the NYC Public School Parents blog:

The curious case of John White, Louisiana, Gates Foundation & inBloom: FOILed emails reveal clues to his involvement & decision to pull out

Monday, July 15, 2013

Thanks to the inspired digging of bloggers like Jason France of Crazy Crawfish and Tom Aswell of Louisiana Voice, parent and student activists like Deborah and Rachael Sachs, and the FOILed emails obtained by Aswell and activist Lee Barrios, we now have a better picture about how John White, newly appointed Louisiana state Superintendent, went from knowing nothing in January 2012 about the student data-sharing project called the Shared Learning Collaborative, that soon morphed into inBloom Inc., to having decided to share the entire state’s student data less than a year later.

Then a mere four months after the decision was made to become a “Phase I” inBloom state, White suddenly announced he was withdrawing from the project, after parents and state board members had erupted in protest about the plan’s violation of student privacy.   How did this happen?  Some clues can be found below.
 
April 26, 2011:  Paul Pastorek, State Superintendent of Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE), appoints John White as head of the Recovery School District (RSD).  White is the former NYC Deputy Chancellor, controversial for his support for closing public schools and installing charter schools in their place.  Pastorek instead cites White’s “collaborative” work “with principals and teachers to design a teacher effectiveness program in New York City that effectively supports and evaluates their achievement.”
 
June 2011: The Gates Foundation gives the Louisiana Department of Education a $7.6 million, three year grant.
 
July 2011: The Gates Foundation gives a $1 million, one year grant to the Recovery School District (RSD).
August 22, 2011: Julie Fabrocini, senior program officer for the Gates Foundation writes John White and asks to speak by phone to him to “talk about an opportunity with math and literacy instructional tools (LD and MD) that support CCSS (Common Core State Standards) in some RSD charters.”
 
September 9, 2011; Pete Gorman, senior VP of News Corporation’s new education division, later named Amplify,   asks White to spend time with him  to “understand what is happening in the Recovery School District…like your insights on a few News Corp /Wireless issues [Wireless is the primary education subsidiary of NewsCorp, and the designer of inBloom Inc.’s operating system]…” Assures him that “one of the great parts of my job is I don’t sell anything to anyone, I am sharing information with our team about what is really happening in the schools.  So no sales pitch or pressure!”
 
White replies; “Dude—you are my recharger!  Dinner it is, of course.  Then let’s visit some schools…I’m really looking forward to it.”
 
Oct. 20, 2011: Neerav Kingsland, Chief Strategy Officer of New Schools for New Orleans, writes White:  “Might be good for some of us to attend [Gates confab of Compact Leaders] esp if we can meet with Shalvey [Deputy Director at Gates Foundation] re: funding.” (Earlier in May 2011
New Schools for New Orleans had received $301K “to fund a road map for community engagement around school closure”. The following year the organization receives a Gates’ $3 million grant.]
 
Oct 27, 2011; Pete Gorman of NewsCorp follows up, thanking White for the time they spent together: “Joel [Klein] said he may be seeing you soon and he is looking forward to it.”  Announces that he would like to return with the president of Wireless, Josh Reibel, to discuss how the company can “help increase achievement…assist with “school turnarounds” and give “a preview of ‘new curriculum.’”  White says that sounds great.
 
Dec. 31, 2011 Erin Bendily, Asst.Superintendent at LDOE, writes that they need to push “more on the CCSS [Common Core State Standards] alignment/integration throughout.  This sounds harsh, but we should show that our current/old educator evaluation system is crap and the new system is stellar.  We should also highlight the Gates integration project in a major way as well, as there’s little detail about exactly how the two initiatives are being rolled out together…”
 
Jan 11, 2012: White is officially named Louisiana’s State Superintendent of Education, replacing Paul Pastorek.
 
Jan 20, 2012:  White receives an invitation from the Center for Educational Leadership and Technology (CELT), a Gates grantee, asking him as well as the other Shared Learning Collaborative  State chiefs to a meeting about the data-sharing project– with reimbursement for travel expenses.  CELT had received a multi-million dollar Gates grant to “focus on developing recommended practices and business processes for collecting and validating linked teacher and student data,” with Louisiana one of the participating states.
 
For the rest of the very revealing timeline, including sharing of Louisiana student social security numbers, questions raised by BESE member Lottie Beebe, testimony by Louisiana student Rachel Sachs, and data security issues raised by St. Tammany schools, follow this link:
 
 
 
7 Comments
  1. Linda permalink

    Mercedes,

    Can you look at this document and tell me if the claims made by Vallas for NOLA are accurate…page 10 and 11. Thank you. Linda

    http://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/sboe/revised-reco-and-provider-info.pdf

  2. Here is the deception: “combined school districts” means RSD and the 17-school Orleans Parish Schools (OPSB), which was primarily magnet schools turned into selective admission charters. Attempts to make RSD look better by combining its data with that of OPSB is nothing new. See this post:

    https://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/in-case-you-missed-it-you-really-didnt-miss-much/

    Also, the “50% decrease in dropout rate” is an inflated stat; also, it does not include the fact that the definition of “dropout” was changed to exclude students who after dropping out decided to attend education programs (like night school). See this link:

    http://www.thepelicanpost.org/2011/04/11/louisiana-dropout-rate-falls-31-percent/

    Another word regarding Edison Learning (pg 13 of your report): Jeb Bush used the Florida teacher pension money to bail out Edison, a company that never succeeded in what it said it could do: raise student scores for less money:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leonie-haimson/chris-cerf-there-you-go-a_b_835180.html

  3. Dropouts are being manipulated into becoming “non-dropouts” by changing exit codes without proper documentation and no longer audited as well. (Well we know as many as 1/3 to 1/2 of all non-dropout exit codes statewide have no documentation from audits done, but nothing has been done about this sanction or correction-wise) This is a statewide issue but seems to be very prevalent in New Orleans. This comes from my accountability sources in charge of auditing this info.

  4. Anonymouse permalink

    January 11, 2012…officially named superintendent of education…

    Wonder why he was making personnel decisions & announcements (via email) in December of 2011? When Dr. George Noell left to return to LSU full-time, both he and then-Superintendent Ollie Tyler announced his duties would be split between two then-current DoE employees. Johnny sent emails saying, basically, ‘not until I decide so’, roughly a month prior to being annointed… I mean appointed.

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