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Admin Applies Pressure on Louisiana Parents to “Opt In”

February 12, 2015

In my January 28, 2015, post, For Louisiana Parents Considering Opting Out, I offered the following observation regarding pressure on school administrators by the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) to keep Louisiana’s testing machine rolling despite parental concerns over their children becoming (as one New York charter administrator proudly declared) “little test taking machines”:

The short of it is that school administrators are “held accountable” by the state for “making” parents allow their children to take a test that holds no direct benefit to any child– all so the school can get a better grade.

In the weeks following the publishing of that post, I received two bits of information attesting that Louisiana district administrators are indeed trying to curb parental intentions to opt their children out of the ten-plus hours of so-called “PARCC” testing due to hit Louisiana’s classrooms statewide in grades 3 through 8 in March and May.

Both communications come from Calcasieu Parish.

The first comes from the principal of an elementary school to the school’s faculty. It was sent as an email in its original form:

Westlake emailWestlake email 2

“The best for the school” apparently involves requiring parents to conference with administration so that admin might talk such parents into the ten-plus hours of testing for their children.

Why?

Because this ten-plus hours of testing being pushed by a state superintendent who has yet to produce the details of Louisiana’s “PARCC” connection to Pearson is “good for the school.

The principal of a school is a person in power. Parents’ being required to meet with the principal in order to opt their children out of testing is a lightly-disguised effort to curb the number of parents opting their children out of so-called “PARCC” via intimidation. It is clear that this principal plans to talk the parent out of the opt-out; it is also clear that this principal expects compliance with his/her plan on social media.

Here is another example of a district’s efforts to curb parental opting out: a memo from Calcasieu Parish Administrative Director Jill Portie dated February 4, 2015, and with the stated purpose, “Suggestions for Handling Elementary Parent Requests for Opt Outs.”

Though the term “suggestions” is in the stated purpose of Portie’s memo, the opening content is clearly directive, designed to make opting out a difficult and potentially intimidating task for the parent:

1) The actual form is not online so parents will make the request to the school administrator.

2) Schools are not to send this form home with any student.

3) The parent will make the final decision. If you receive a signed form, retain a copy for the student file, one for the school principal, and one for the school test coordinator to be used for test preparations. Remember parents must fill out a form at each school their children attend.

Though Portie incorporates the term “should” in the remainder of the memo, given the directive opening, the rest reads more like a directive and less like a suggestion:

Administrators at each school should be the ones who have the Opt Out Forms. All parents requesting an Opt Out Form should be directed to a school administrator. This will enable the school administrator to speak with parents or set up an appointment to go over the district letter explaining the ramifications of students opting out. We cannot require parents to conference with us, but please make an attempt to do so. The district letter is posted on the CPSB Web Site.

Just for your information, we do not see how Calcasieu Parish School Board can set a deadline for opting out because parents will then just send their children and tell them to sit there and do nothing. When it gets to that point we are in a no win situation.

Whereas Portie states that parents cannot be required to conference, the principal in the first example does require an administrative meeting with the parent “to sign the opt out form.”

Portie apparently also understands that opting out is a volatile issue and expects parents to defy any deadline set for opting out.

When it gets to that point we are in a no win situation.

“When it gets to the point” that children must sit for ten-plus hours of standardized testing– and that under an arrangement that is literally held by White as “a state secret”– it is then that “we are at a no win situation.”

The “no win” preceded the growing popularity of Louisiana’s opt out movement.

Without test scores to manipulate, Louisiana Superintendent John White loses his privatizing grip over Louisiana public education. His latest word is that he “may not” penalize districts for students’ opting out. The word intended is “might,” not “may”. “May” implies that someone will prevent him. As it stands, White has committed to nothing regarding issuing zeroes to districts for parents opting out their children. Pay attention to the wording:

 “He (White) made the statement that he would hold fair and steadfast to not making decisions to denigrate or embarrass schools or districts relative to the zero issue,” DeSoto Superintendent Cade Brumley said.

Louisiana School Board Association President Scott Richard said superintendents got a “glimmer of hope” when White “verbally pledged to look at participation rates after testing and assured superintendents that the Department of Education would not humiliate or denigrate any school or district.”

White did not agree not to penalize districts. He merely offered PR fluff. No motion was passed by the state board– a board kept in the dark about LDOE’s procurement of so-called “PARCC.”

Louisiana’s entire PARCC nonsense drips administrative dysfunction.

White is a noted liar. A reminder again, folks: White will not even release the details of LDOE’s arrangement for these supposed “PARCC” tests. LDOE is keeping these details a secret even from the full state BESE board– a board that is liable for White’s PARCC “secret concoction.”

If White were decent, he would not wait until after testing to make a decision about those zeroes. He would do it beforehand as a formal resolution. But no. This way, principals will continue to put pressure on parents– just the way White intends.

opt out

_____________________________________________

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

6 Comments
  1. ulyankee permalink

    I saw an Opt In sign in an RSD charter school classroom today.

  2. CarynJ permalink

    The pressure from the principals and teachers is not just in Calcasieu sadly. We have numerous scare tactics and bullying going on around here and some principals and teachers are getting themselves in some hot water because we are calling them out. Sure wish the media would get on this one!

  3. 2old2tch permalink

    I am amazed that you come right out and call White a liar even though there is plenty of information to support that conclusion. Public figures seem to do a fair amount of misremembering, misspeaking, and misunderstanding. Forgive me if I “misbelieve” their protestations. Keep it up, Mercedes. I am so tired of liars.

  4. I have never heard White admit to making a mistake nor has he ever said or implied he forgot, misspoke or misunderstood. I am pretty sure he has unless he’s not human.

  5. Christina Krauss permalink

    Your 2/7/15 PARCC piece states it’s down to 10…pls provide input on this, it indicates more http://www.parcconline.org/governing-board…..Making BIG strides in NJ! Opting out all over the place http://www.nj.com/education/2015/02/parcc_shouldnt_count_for_anything_nj_assembly_bill.html#incart_river

    • New York and Louisiana do not have PARCC testing contracts with Pearson.

      PARCC might still include on the website as gov board, but gov states were supposed to arrange to legitimately vend what are now the Pearson PARCC tests.

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