Jindal Says No to Roemer, Garvey and Boffy’s 2014-15 Assessment “Offer”
On July 10, 2014, three members of the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE)– President Chas Roemer, James Garvey, and Holly Boffy– decided that they would make Governor Bobby Jindal an offer regarding a plan for 2014-15 assessments in Louisiana schools.
Within hours, Jindal rejected the Roemer et al. offer.
The decision to approach Jindal with this letter was not the work of the formally-assembled BESE board, which voted 6 to 3 in the July 1, 2014, special meeting to reject BESE member Jane Smith’s motion to use 2013-14 assessments in 2014-15 and insisted that “clarity” was needed via legal counsel. No arrangement for 2014-15 assessments was approved in any BESE meeting.
As a matter of open meeting record, Roemer, Garvey, and Boffy decided to reject Smith’s idea of using last year’s plan for the coming school year. As a matter of open meeting record, these three offered no alternative resolution regarding 2014-15 Louisiana assessments.
Instead, they decided nine days later to take it upon themselves on behalf of the entire BESE board to send Jindal the offer detailed in this letter.
For Roemer, Garvey, and Boffy to take this initiative on behalf of a public body is in direct violation of Louisiana Open Meetings Law. In the letter, Roemer, Garvey, and Boffy copy the letter to the remaining nine BESE members. There was no gathering of a majority of board members in one place. They also failed to advertise the meeting and offer an agenda 24 hours prior to the meeting, and open the meeting to public comment and formal vote by a meeting comprised of at least six BESE members.
So, right out of the starting gate, Roemer, Garvey, and Boffy have broken the law.
Thus, it is an irony that in their letter, they purport to include PARCC questions on a LEAP-named assessment in order “to be consistent with the law.”
NOTE from Mike Stagg in FB comments:
It’s not a violation of the law if they did not get approval from the rest of the board. It is strictly an initiative of three board members. It’s not an official offer without the approval of the other board members. It’s a point for negotiation. I’m no fan of little Roemer or the others, but this is a misreading of the open meetings law. It would be a violation if the majority of the board acted without public notice. It is not a violation for a minority of the board to put together a plan and throw it out there because — without approval of the entire body — it has no legal standing. It’s the opinion or stance of three people. Nothing more. Nothing less.
In other words, had Jindal approved of this “offer,” BESE would have had to have held a formal open meeting before proceeding. However, it is a moot point for now.
What did Roemer, Garvey, and Boffy ask for?
These three want to “deliver and administer the LEAP tests in 2014-2015 in four academic subjects, through the end of its contracted term” with Data Recognition Corp (DRC)– using the contract that is currently under investigation by the Division of Administration (DOA). (See more details here.) They want DOA to allow DRC to create LEAP assessments in English, math, social studies, and science.
They also want “to complement 2014-2015 LEAP test questions created through Louisiana’s historical test question development process with questions Louisiana created as part of the PARCC process and to which our state thus has immediate access.”
Jindal wants out of PARCC, and these three are asking to use “suddenly accessible” PARCC questions that “Louisiana created as part of PARCC.”
Any PARCC questions “created as part of PARCC” are consortium questions– and may be consortium property– but definitely were created with federal money and federal oversight. (See here for the federal money award letter to PARCC and here for the USDOE “cooperative agreement.”)
But Roemer, Garvey, and Boffy are promoting these “Louisiana” PARCC questions as free to access “without entering into a contract or a subcontract.”
Just take our word for it.
Nothing is for free. Besides, Jindal said no to PARCC. To quote Representative Cameron Henry on the issue, Roemer, Garvey, and Boffy “are negotiating with themselves” via this 2014-15 assessment “offer.”
These three try to tell Jindal that using the PARCC questions “meet[s] the legal mandate for tests based on ‘nationally recognized content standards.’” What they do not mention is that this so-called “legal mandate” came from their own board– the one that they ignored in the process of composing and sending the very letter including those words.
And as to the 2015-16 assessment contract– which Roemer, Garvey, and Boffy promise will be properly procured– these three also promise the following:
Because PARCC is not a vendor of services — it is a collaborative effort among states
to design a better test — you can be assured that PARCC will not apply in response to
the RFP, nor will it be a subcontractor. [Emphasis added.]
Of course PARCC will not be a vendor or subcontractor. It looks like the vendor will be Pearson– unless the American Institutes of Research (AIR) appeals the New Mexico state purchasing agent’s July 3, 2014, decision to confirm award of the PARCC assessment contract to Pearson.
Knowing how State Superintendent John White works, expect that Pearson could enter the bidding for Louisiana’s 2015-16 assessments, bid low, and “win” to create “Louisiana assessments”– and try to disguise a Pearson-developed PARCC test under the guise of a “Louisiana” assessment.
We’ll have to watch White in 2015– if he is still around.
For now, Louisiana remains assessment free in 2014-15.
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