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Cade Brumley Is Louisiana’s New Superintendent. What LDOE Chaos Has He Inherited?

May 20, 2020

On May 20, 2020, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) voted 8-3 to appoint Jefferson Parish superintendent, Cade Brumley, as Louisiana’s next state superintendent.

Brumley was not a choice of ed reformers.  It seemed that their top choice was John White associate, Jessica Baghian, who currently serves as an assistant superintendent. Even so, some, like Sandy Holloway and Kira Orange-Jones, cast their initial votes for former St. James Parish superintendent Alonzo “Lonnie” Luce, who currently works for for-profit charter school management company, Charter Schools USA, as overseer of its Louisiana charter schools.

Brumley won the supermajority in a second round of voting. In the first round, all three candidates wound up with votes of 5-6. In Brumley’s case, the five voting for him included Ashley Ellis, Tony Davis, and governor John Bel Edwards’ three appointees, Doris Voitier, Belinda Davis, and Thomas Roque.

In a surprising move, Kira Orange-Jones, who headed the superintendent search committee, changed her vote in favor of Brumley in the second round, as did Holloway and Preston Castille.

Orange-Jones told the Advocate that Brumley is “a proven reformer.”

I don’t think so. Yes, Brumley attended the ed-reform Broad Superintendents Academy. However, Brumley has a steep history in the traditional classroom, as teacher, assistant principal, principal, and district superintendent, which is hardly the characteristic ed-reform catapult to a top post following a token teaching stint (i.e., Baghian).

Moreover, Brumley recently stated that he believes that charter schools should be locally, not state, approved, and this the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools (LAPCS), led by Caroline Roemer, found “deeply concerning.”

In a May 17, 2020, tweet, Advocate reporter Will Sentell noted Roemer’s support for Baghian and Luce, but no mention of Brumley, despite his being a 2018 LAPCS keynote speaker.

The fact that John White diehards Holly Boffy and James Garvey voted no for Brumley says quite a bit about Brumley’s not fitting the John White mold. Garvey’s political shadiness is rooted in Jefferson Parish, and yet, he rejected the Jefferson Parish superintendent as the next state superintendent.

That makes me feel all the more confident in Brumley as one who will not engage in self-serving political games. Which raises another important point:

What kind of chaos and shady dealing is Brumley walking into by taking over a Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) opaquely operated by a John-White-shielding-and-enabling 2012 and 2015 BESE majority?

White began “muddying the narrative” in 2012 when he approved voucher schools without reviewing them first and was caught trying subsequently create an approval process post-approval. For years, White chose to be sued rather than to fulfil public records requests, and for years, he directed LDOE employees to only fill public records requests that were cleared by administrators, the plan being to release records to those sympathetic to White and his LDOE.

Another example: White withheld the Class of 2014 ACT scores until February 2015. On January 03, 2015, I wrote about his withholding the scores, and on January 31, 2015, I began releasing them on my blog after a concerned individual with access to the scores became upset enough about the scores being purposely kept out of public view allowed me access.

And what about money? Consider, for example, this 2015 detailing of LDOE misappropriation of federal funding for special education. Too, there’s the fact that White cofounded a nonprofit that started doing business in Louisiana while White was still superintendent.

In 2015, Governor Edwards said that he wanted White gone because LDOE under White’s leadership “has been fraught with controversy and accusations of wrongdoing.”

White is gone, and the remnant of career LDOE employees who were trying to hold onto their jobs under White’s corruption and mismanagement out of fear of losing those jobs under White (or under a subsequent, likeminded White crony) can now feel free to spill their secrets.

I also wonder if White’s cronies still at LDOE have already formulated their exit plans.

It’s a new day at LDOE. I wonder what Brumley will find, and who, exactly, will be implicated, and how long it will take before the filing of the first formal charges.

Congratulations, Dr. Brumley.

I look forward to your LDOE cleanup.

CadeBrumley

Cade Brumley

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5 Comments
  1. Robert Tellman permalink

    Thank you for your fabulous and unending support of good over evil.

    Please be patient and know that he will have to work within BESE’s imperatives and the existing laws the reformers managed to get passed.
    And the first few months will be very focused on getting kids back in school during this Covid-19 time, as it should be.

    I look for a culture change at LDOE and in the districts and schools. I hope one of them is less fear.

    I feel he will definitely investigate to find all the wrongdoing and I hope heads roll right into prison. I know that’s being hopeful but it is needed.

    Back to kid-centric!

  2. P. Schwarz permalink

    Thanks, Mercedes, for the encouraging word on our new Education Superintendent. I thought that Brumley seemed to be the most “traditional” educator in the running for the job by my standards, having actual school and classroom experience. Hearing how the BESE votes fell says it all. Thanks again for your wonderful assessment of the long-awaited departure and replacement of John White.

  3. Lance Hill permalink

    I think your analysis is good. I am disturbed that Brumley got the corporate ed reform vote. He is married to a charter school teacher and a Broad alum and those are big question mark. I wonder if he cut a deal not to touch the entrenched charters in New Orleans in trade for the votes. Recently the charters have been focusing on preserving the existing charters rather than expanding the disastrous model. Also he could have made a promise not to open the data to researchers in the future. New Orleans may be the sacrificial lamb.

    • Hi, Lance. Frankly, I think KOJ voted for him because she did not want to deal with the work of continuing the search (she was chair). Too, if any deals were made, I think if Brumley sees himself as being implicated in a cover-up, he will not agree to it. I think he will encounter multiple fiascos involving illegal activities and that RSD will not be untouched.

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