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My 2014-15 “Back to School” Post

August 6, 2014

I started my 2014-15 school year on Monday, August 4. On Thursday, August 7 (which happens to be tomorrow), the students return.  Thus, the three days beginning this week have been faculty professional days.

I planned to write a different, more research-based post in the days prior to my students’ return, but mentally, I feel like I am on vacation after spending two months writing my second book. Starting school requires a different energy than the intense self-discipline I had to impose upon myself in order to complete a book in a summer. (I do enjoy writing; however, in order to complete a book before returning to school, I often had to write whether I felt like it or not. That’s just how it works.)

In many ways, starting a school year after having written so much this summer (not only the book, but also blog posts) is like exhaling a deep breath.

So, no lengthy investigative post for now.

Instead, I would like to offer a word regarding the very beginning of my 2014-15 school year.

It was nothing like last year’s start, when Louisiana State Superintendent John White decided to speed up Common Core (CCSS) implementation by a full year. When I returned, I and my colleagues faced “the CCSS sales job” in which we were told we were going to “do this thing.” By October 2013, our local school board approved an anti-CCSS resolution that our local superintendent and local union president both signed.

However, our district still considered itself “in” CCSS since CCSS was adopted at the state level.

Well. It seems now that the state is suing itself over CCSS and the related Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests. And not only the state is suing itself, but also a charter-backed, pro-CCSS group is suing part of the state (the Governor Jindal part), and 17 legislators and approximately 200 parents and students are suing the state board of education (BESE) for improper adoption of CCSS.

The suit of the 17 legislators et al. suing BESE and the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE)  for improper CCSS adoption will go to court first, on August 15, 2014:

Judge Tim Kelley will hear arguments Aug. 15 in a lawsuit filed by 17 state lawmakers who are seeking an immediate suspension of the multi-state English and math standards in schools.

The lawsuit alleges the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the education department did not follow state law to enact Common Core.

And the pro-CCSS lawsuit against Jindal is scheduled for August 18:

On Aug. 18, Judge Todd Hernandez will consider arguments in a separate lawsuit filed by parents and teachers who have sued Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Their lawsuit alleges Jindal violated the Louisiana Constitution by issuing a series of executive orders aimed at undermining Common Core. BESE has voted to join in the effort against the governor.

But there’s more.

On August 6, 2014, Jindal amended his lawsuit against BESE to include an injunction against the PARCC tests:

In the latest salvo in the ongoing fight over Louisiana’s use of the Common Core education standards, Gov. Bobby Jindal has amended his lawsuit and is now seeking a court injunction to immediately stop the state from using the tests tied to Common Core. …

The injunction would bar the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education from implementing any assessment program developed by the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, known as PARCC. …

Late last month, BESE voted to join a lawsuit suing the governor over the issue, claiming he was unconstitutionally meddling in the education board’s work. Jindal fired back with a counter-suit of his own against BESE, saying the state’s agreement with PARCC is unconstitutional and gives the group too much power to make state education decisions.

Jindal’s new amended version of that lawsuit, filed Wednesday in 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge, expands on that premise. In addition to adding the request for the injunction, the lawsuit claims the PARCC agreement violates federal law.

Laws including the General Education Provisions Act and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act ban the federal government from controlling school curriculum and instructional material, said attorney Jimmy Faircloth, who is representing the Jindal administration in the case. …

In addition, Faircloth says that BESE never truly gave authorization for the state to participate in the PARCC testing system, so its agreement — which Jindal signed — is invalid. The board approved joining the “Common Core” standards in June 2010, but never explicitly approved participation in PARCC, the lawsuit says.

Likely under the advice of counsel, BESE President Chas Roemer and “them” could not be reached for comment.

That did not stop White later on the same day from issuing this gooey, over-the-top effort of a newsletter to resell CCSS to Louisiana teachers.. and to offer us…clarity.

Ironically, John, since LDOE and BESE are on the receiving end of a Jindal-induced CCSS and PARCC exit, the beginning of my school year is clearer than it has been in years.

In our faculty inservice time these past few days, there has been very little talk of CCSS and no hyper-focus on any looming PARCC assessments.

It’s as though “top-down” has put the top down.

In short, it has been a comparatively easy 2014-15 beginning for me.

While I watch the show that is essentially Roemer/White vs. Jindal, I’m just going to do what I have been doing full time for almost every year since 1991.

I’m just going to teach.

driving with top down

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Like my writing? Read my newly-released ed “reform” whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education

NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE.

 

 

 

 

12 Comments
  1. Hannah permalink

    LOVE IT! Welcome back to the school year, and enjoy the new crop of kiddos!

  2. halffullclass permalink

    Just teach.
    Our students need us to be focused on the goal.
    They need to be left out of the conflict.
    In my opinion, Gov Jindal is doing the right thing for the wrong reason.
    Just teach and make connections.

    The children of Louisiana need our attention and I promise to give them that every minute of every day. We can and will make a difference.

    Thanks Mercedes for keeping us focused and informed.

    Proud Louisiana Teacher

  3. Best wishes, Mercedes, for a successful school year. Again, I want to thank you for your efforts to keep the public informed. I will continue to pray for our students, educators, and other school employees. There is a scheduled Welcome Back to School Prayer Day in St. Martin Parish at Parc Hardy in Breaux Bridge at 12 noon on Friday, August 8th.. Father Micheal Delcambre, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Cecilia, and other Parish clergy will offer prayers for students, educators, and school employees in St. Martin Parish schools and in schools/school systems across the state.

  4. Have a great year! Teacher In-service started today for me and I’ll see my 1st graders next Wednesday!

  5. 2old2tch permalink

    Wouldn’t it be nice if they all could keep fighting for the entire year, so you can “just teach” for the whole year?

  6. I am reminded of the children’s tale about the tigers who chased themselves around the tree until they turned into butter….. I know that book is not used in classrooms any more but the image of the butter around the tree is vivid for me because I heard the story growing up and I felt some empowerment listening to how the authorities in power who were going to devour me turned into something quite different……

  7. ira shor permalink

    No classroom can be managed from the outside, and no classroom can be defended from the inside. The top-down invasion of classrooms with required syllabi, mandated lesson plans, and standardized tests erases the teacher’s creative responses to the learning process displayed by her actual students in real class time. That top-down authority cannot be stopped from inside the classroom. All teachers who cherish their professional integrity and their students need to push back together in the political field to defend our right to teach and our students’ right to learn. Our two teacher unions have abandoned us and worked for the other side, except for a few brave people like Karen Lewis, Barbara Madeloni, Bob Peterson, etc. We have the Network for Public Education founded by Diane Ravitch and the Bad-Ass Teachers Association started by Mark Naison and others. And we have Mercedes, a great advantage in this long school war.

  8. What’s interesting is the evidence of more Common Core hypocrisy. According to Arne Duncan, Common Core is a state created program so why is it that this war is being waged by Common Core extremists and the governor of the state, who was elected by the people and not appointed to a position? If the governor is the elected representatives of the state, why not just accept what he’s doing regarding common core instead of criticizing him?

    And it’s obvious that Arne Duncan sides with the Common Core extremists in Louisiana because he is an appointed bureaucrat too. By opening his mouth, he reveals who is really pulling the strings and that the states are supposed to just do what they are told by the DOE and pretend they are in charge.

    “Duncan also emphasized that, despite support from the Department of Education, Common Core is a “state-led initiative” that was voluntarily adopted and not forced onto states.”

    YEA, SURE! Whatever he says.

    What we really have here is a war between an elected governor and an element of the Common Core appointed bureaucracy.

    http://dailycaller.com/2014/06/17/arne-duncan-bobby-jindal-is-a-common-core-flip-flopper/

  9. Old Teacher permalink

    God bless and keep us informed. Let us know when the clowns come in. I hope the correct part of the state wins in this schizophrenic fight. I see the twits are going to try to make my nearly completed M.A. in Special Education a waste with new rigor(mortis). I am hoping they can give me a working wand to remove these disabilities that rigor is unlikely to remove. Teach on Dr. Schneider and thanks for all you do.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Does Jindal Have a Case With Common Core as Federal 'Scheme'? | Mercedes Schneider
  2. Does Jindal Have a Case With Common Core as Federal ‘Scheme’? | LUYOL

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