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Louisiana Teacher Who “Sees Benefits of Common Core” in Op/ed Is a Paid Endorser

March 4, 2015

On March 4, 2015, carried an op/ed entitled, Teacher Sees Benefits of Common Core Playing Out in Classroom.

The column was written by St. Bernard Parish fifth-grade teacher, Angelle Lailhengue.

Here’s an excerpt:

As phase 1 of the PARCC assessment nears, my teachers are doing more and more “test prep.” And I couldn’t be more proud of what I see in their classrooms. Students are reading grade-level texts independently. Students are having discussions about complex texts. Students are writing about texts. “Test-prep,” as we prepare to take the PARCC assessment, means deeper thinking and learning, analyzing and understanding text, problem solving and complex thinking. Teachers aren’t stopping instruction to start “test prep,” and students are still learning as the assessments near. The skills that students are practicing are the skills that they need to succeed after high school.

The article included the following brief bio:

Angelle Lailhengue is an instructional coach at Lacoste Elementary School in Chalmette.

What readers are not made aware of is that “instructional coach” is a euphemism for “teacher leader”– an individual paid to promote Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE)-endorsed policies– such as the Common Core and its assessments.

Lailhengue is under contract with LDOE and is being paid $5,930 in “100% federal fund” from October 15, 2013, through June 30, 2015, for work including “serving as a Common Core expert & assist[ing] in building a growing network of teacher leaders throughout the state.”



Lailhengue tweeted the following four days after being under contract to promote Common Core:

lailhengue tweet

One more bit of info:

Lailhengue was a presenter at the June 2014 Teacher Leaders Summit in New Orleans:

ELA Unit Plan Preparation, Grades 3-5 (Sessions A & B) (P4) 3 Rotations (4.5 hours)

Teacher Leaders Angelle Lailhengue (St. Bernard) and Meredith Starks (Bossier)

In this session participants prepare to use the LDE released unit plans. Using the LDOE ELA guidebooks as models, participants prepare to implement effective ELA instruction. Participants will examine complex texts and tasks and gain a deeper understanding of the grade-level standards. Research, instructional strategies, and models are embedded throughout the session.

When it comes to Common Core, Lailhengue is in. So, it is no wonder why she would enthusiastically take to the New Orleans op/eds to promote Common Core.

It is a bit sneaky for Lailhengue not to disclose her title as a “teacher leader”– and her being on the federal-funds-via-LDOE payroll to sell Common Core.

Oh, and as to that “plane”– it is only highly-politicized flying debris.

As veteran educator Stan Karp notes in a fantastic article reproduced in the January 2014 Washington Post:

The trouble with the Common Core is not primarily what is in these standards or what’s been left out, although that’s certainly at issue. The bigger problem is the role the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are playing in the larger dynamics of current school reform and education politics.

Today everything about the Common Core, even the brand name—the Common Core State Standards—is contested because these standards were created as an instrument of contested policy. …

As teacher-blogger Jose Vilson put it:

“People who advocate for the CCSS miss the bigger picture that people on the ground don’t: The CCSS came as a package deal with the new teacher evaluations, higher stakes testing, and austerity measures, including mass school closings. Often, it seems like the leaders are talking out of both sides of their mouths when they say they want to improve education but need to defund our schools. . . . It makes no sense for us to have high expectations of our students when we don’t have high expectations for our school system.”

There is much more to the flying debris than only Common Core and its assessments– though these do account for a hefty chunk.

But again, still debris. And even in Louisiana, that debris is crumbling.

Common Core was designed to be “commonly” assessed, yet the PARCC consortium is dwindling. And whatever Louisiana is giving in the name of “PARCC” testing is not even legitimately contracted for 2015. Indeed, proposed budget cuts could sink LDOE hopes for legitimately tying Louisiana to PARCC in 2016, with Louisiana Superintendent John White slyly proposing not only moving away from the Pearson-developed PARCC test, but also prematurely “reviewing” Common Core– likely to offset potential anti-Common Core legislation this session.

Common Core and its tests: One-hundred-percent political crumble.

Image result for flying debris


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.

  1. Old Teacher permalink

    This is worse than flying debris. This is a new era V-2 rocket bomb. It has no guidance system, it brings destruction everywhere it hits, there is no pilot, and it was not designed to make a landing. The tests destroy the morale of the schools and bring about their closure. The teachers have their reputation destroyed at impact. The public gets to pick up the rubble of what was their public schools. Will they rebuild?

  2. Kathy Sapinoro permalink

    And the rubble of their childrens hearts and minds. How do you rebuild those? Shame on her for the part she is playing in this plane wreck.

  3. DanG permalink

    Flying debris! What a superb rejoinder! I luv ya, Mercedes. “Flying the plane while we’re building it” was a metaphor created by the critics of Common Core. Does this little princess really think that her tweet meant anything at all? Sorry kitten, not too long “B4 #ccss US was…” THE ENVY OF THE WORLD. She would know this if she didn’t still have Cocoa Puffs on her breath.

  4. Denise permalink

    “Paid endorser” is strong language and I am not sure you have proven your case. Yeah, her thoughts on common core are disgusting, but there is no proof that she holds this opinion because she is paid to. It is also likely that she sought out a teacher leader role because of her preexisting support for common core. Using incendiary language and sensational claims like this is bring us done to their level.

    • Once a person takes money expressly to promote a particular position, that person has agreed to actively promote that position. Her accepting the money should have been disclosed.

    • K Quinn permalink

      The same thing was done here in WA State. Our OSPI hired/paid CCSS ambassadors (teachers) to infest media/social media with fabulous propaganda about CCSS, while also pushing it in the districts they work in. With some of these people, you’d think teaching existed only in some prehistoric form before CCSS came along to set us all on the golden path to teaching and standards perfection.

  5. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    A teacher receives federal-funds to be a shill for the CCSS. How can this happen?

    Federal policies are so alien to the educational thought and practice that USDE has funded a full-scale marketing program in an effort to secure compliance with these measures. For compliance with Race to the Top, for example, USDE’s offered a $43 million grant to IFC International, a for-profit consulting and public relations firm. The grant was for two purposes: (a) to create the Reform Support Network (RSN) enabling Race to the Top grantees to learn from each other, and (b) to promote promising practices for comparable reforms nation-wide. The grant included $13 million for nine subcontractors, each with specialized skills for RSN’s marketing campaign.

    The sophistication of the marketing campaign is suggested by one of the largest subcontracts— $6.3 million to Education First. The founding partner is Jennifer Vranek, a former advocacy expert with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She and others working for Education First helped a number of states apply for the RttT competition. They have fashioned PR campaigns for the Common Core State Standards in many states. The firm’s website includes a sample of the firm’s communication and advocacy services: “Outreach and public-engagement strategies and activities; strategic communications planning; reports, white papers and articles designed to synthesize, explain and persuade; development of communications tools, including marketing materials, web copy, press releases, and social media content.” (Education First, website 2014).

    Here is one example of RSNs work. In December 2012, anonymous contract writers for RSN published a portfolio of suggestions for marketing key policies in RttT. Titled “Engaging Educators, A Reform Support Network Guide for States and Districts: Toward a New Grammar and Framework for Educator Engagement” this publication is addressed to state and district officials. It offers guidance on how to persuade teachers and principals to comply with federal policies.

    “Engaging Educators” then packs about 30 communication strategies, all portrayed as “knowledge development,” into four paragraphs about “message delivery options.” These include “op-eds, letters to the editor, blast messages, social media, press releases,” and regular in-house techniques (p. 4). RSN writers emphasize the need to “Get the Language Right,” meaning that messaging should focus on improving student learning (p. 6).

    Other recommended techniques for messaging are teacher surveys, focus groups, websites with rapid response to frequently asked questions, graphic organizers placed into professional development, websites, podcasts, webinars, teacher-made videos of their instruction (vetted for SLO compliance), and a catalog of evocative phrases tested in surveys and focus groups. These rhetorical devices help to maintain a consistent system of messaging.

    RSN writers also suggest that districts offer released time or pay for message delivery by “teacher SWAT teams that can be deployed at key junctures of the…redesign of evaluation systems” (p. 9).
    The marketing campaign calls for the use of “teacher voice groups” as advocates for reforms. A “teacher voice group” is RSNs name for a non-union advocacy collective funded by private foundations favoring pay-for-performance. Five voice groups are mentioned by name. All have received major funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: Teach Plus ($9.5 million), Center for Teacher Quality ($6.3 million), Hope Street Group ($4.7 million), Educators for Excellence ($3.9 million), and Teachers United ($942, 000). Other foundations are supporting these groups. For example, Teach Plus receives “partner” grants from eight other foundations including the Broad, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Joyce, and several investment firms.

    Of course, the marketing campaign for the Common Core is not limited to this paper trail to federal funds. Another marketing program can be seen this USDE website, that just assumes teachers should be implementing the CCSS…

    Foundation money is also keeping the marketing campaign in place. For example, a website operated by Student Achievement Partners—key players in writing and first stage marketing of the CCSS— is made possible with funds from the GE and Helmsley Foundations see

    I am certain that Mercedes’ forthcoming book on the CCSS will also reveal how this deeply flawed package of policies intended to standardize public education in the United States has been contrived to secure profits for providers of anything branded as CCSS-compliant, including teacher education.

    • confused permalink

      Used to be people like these teacher leaders, and everyone I sent this blog to is as shocked as I was to find out they are PAID, these people were called moles. People hired and paid to spy on and pass on information to their handlers who needed to destroy a specific group of people. Easier to do from within. So writing Pro CCSS op eds is what she is paid to do. If we didn’t know we are in a battle for our profession, we should now. Looks like ALEC is using Sun Zu’s Art of War as a handbook!

      • Laura H. Chapman permalink

        This posted today on Politico. Talk about trying to rescue fying debris.

        COMMON CORE HITS AIRWAVES: They’ve racked up a string of solid victories, beating back repeal bills [] in four states in recent weeks – and now Common Core backers are turning their attention to the GOP presidential sweepstakes. With a slew of likely candidates descending on the Hawkeye State this weekend for an agricultural summit [ ] staged by agribusiness mogul Bruce Rastetter, the Collaborative for Student Success is seeking to persuade likely caucus-goers that real conservatives can love the Common Core. Bill Bennett, education secretary under President Ronald Reagan, says as much in a 60-second radio spot [] that will get heavy play across the state this week. “These sound academic standards are worth fighting for,” Bennett says. A voice over urges: “Learn why so many conservatives are taking another look at Common Core.” Digital ads will also appear this week, and a full-page ad in the Des Moines Register [ on Friday will urge voters to ask potential candidates if they back high standards. The Collaborative, which has received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is mulling media buys in other ’16 hot spots, including New Hampshire and South Carolina.

        – Speaking of the Common Core, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is set to reopen debate on standards-aligned exams as some parents want to keep their children out of testing this spring. The Advocate:

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