Tag Archives: Lee Barrios

Don’t Let Billionaires Buy the Louisiana BESE Board


In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson could not believe his good fortune. He sent negotiators over to France to purchase New Orleans from Napoleon Boneparte, and instead was offered the entire Louisiana Territory. It started the United States on the path of becoming a world power.

Beware, another group with its vast reservoir of money is attempting to purchase the Louisiana education system. The millionaires and billionaires are busy at work on a Third Louisiana Purchase.

We, the people, were endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, and we, the citizens of Louisiana, number more than the seven billionaires.

They already bought the Board four years ago in the Second Louisiana Purchase. With the help of Governor Bobby Jindal, outsiders poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into numerous races to get the eight votes he needed to hire wunderkind John White, even though he had barely been the Recovery School District Superintendent for a year. The reform agenda firmly controlled the votes of nine members, and only Dr. Lottie Beebe voted against White becoming Superintendent.

The money won the day, and look at what we got.

ACT score averages down from 20.2 to 19.4. A record number of veteran teacher leaving the profession though many had more good years in them. A drastic drop in the number of people entering college as an education major. A botched implementation of Common Core so wretchedly bad, not even supporters have been able to rally around it.

Even Bobby Jindal has turned against Common Core and the Board that blindly supports it. Slowly the make-up of the board has changed, and now the battle lines are usually drawn seven to four in favor of White and whatever he proclaims is good for Louisiana.

Forces are ruthlessly at work to preserve that seven-seat majority on the BESE Board. The Advocate has an article titled “Big money to BESE elections: $3.5 million to PACs and counting,” where it shows in detail how a handful of the über-rich want to buy the votes on the Board.

Eli & Edythe Broad, Michael Bloomberg, Laura & John Arnold, and Alice & Jim Walton are just a handful of the billionaires who essentially don’t want anybody messing with their elitist reform package synonymous with charter schools, merit pay, and value added models. (Just an interesting side-note, John White attended the Broad Academy, founded by Eli Broad, where for a scant six training weekends, you too can be a Superintendent.)

These rich few essentially want to rob us of our individual voices. Their money can buy TV ads and expensive, glossy handouts to distract voters from the disaster of the last four years.

Well, let’s make a stark contrast.

If you are for the state being in the hands of a Superintendent who lowers scores on tests to 22% for a passing grade, let the billionaires win.

If you are for even more testing that robs students of the valuable classroom time to learn all-important skills, let the billionaires win.

If you are for testing kids as young as eight with a test that none of you will ever see or get any indication of how to improve your child’s understanding of it, let the billionaires win.

If you are for punishing kids with all sorts of poorly-written worksheets bought from out of state companies—Eureka Math and Engage New York—let the billionaires win.

If you are for condescending educators-in-the-know and legislators who openly mock and disrespect parents and teachers when they come to legislative sessions, let the billionaires win.

If you are for a curriculum that teaches to a test instead of learning life lessons and how to joy of living, let the billionaires win.

If you are NOT willing to sell your children’s futures to a bunch of billionaires, then STAND UP AND VOTE!  Restore a sensible group of leaders to BESE who aren’t chained to a reformist model. Vote in leaders whose only constituents should be Louisiana children, parents, and educators. Those are Lee Barrios (Dist. 1), Kara Washington (Dist. 2), Dr. Lottie Beebe (Dist. 3), Mary Johnson Harris (Dist. 4) Johnny Fatheree (Dist. 5), Jason France, (Dist. 6), Mike Kreamer (Dist. 7), and Carolyn Hill (Dist. 8)

We, the people, were endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, and we, the citizens of Louisiana, number more than the seven billionaires. We should be outraged that a group of outsiders want to control this fun-loving state.

Don’t let the Gang of Seven Billionaires buy the BESE Board. Stop the Third Louisiana Purchase!



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A Rising Tide Against Common Core

I believe that the tide is rising against Common Core, and I couldn’t be happier.

It certainly did not help when Louisiana Education Superintendent John White inexplicably moved up the date for full implementation of Common Core. When Louisiana adopted the Common Core Standards, 2012-2014 were designated as two transitional years, with full implementation in 2014-2015 school year. Suddenly White moved full implementation to 2013-2014 and then provided no curricula to assist this drastic change. Every Parish was left to their own devices and the leadership from White and the Department of Education was nonexistent.

The reaction has been swift. On October 10, 2013, the School Board of St. Tammany Parish passed a resolution asking that Louisiana remove itself from both Common Core and the PARCC tests accompanying it. On October 22, the Vermilion Parish School Board under Superintendent Jerome Puyau passed a resolution requesting a three-year delay of Common Core and any testing associated with it. Representative Cameron Henry (D-Metarie) has promised to fill legislation in the 2014 session to remove Louisiana from Common Core. As of yesterday, Washington Parish has also requested essentially the same thing as St. Tammany, and parishes are sharing their resolutions with each other.

I believe this is only the beginning. Parents and educators are organizing numerous webpages to educate people as well as spreading the word how to defend our students and teachers. Tireless defenders of teachers like Diane Ravitch and Lee Barrios continue to reflect on the flimsiness of Common Core and the assault on public education from the private sector. The chorus of angry, legitimate voices continues to swell.

As parents and educators rally and organize, the supporters of Common Core are circling the wagons. They have resorted to the weak line of logic that removing Louisiana from Common Core would somehow hurt our students, leaving them behind the rest of the country. My favorite line was that “We can’t be left with nothing and put that on the back of teachers and schools.” Actually, that’s precisely what John White just did to the state of Louisiana by moving up the full implementation date. Exactly how Louisiana students would be hurt by our removal from Common Core, supporters can never say.

I have written repeatedly about the problematic and systematically-flawed creation of Common Core, that its twenty-five authors had little or no classroom experience, and that involving teachers in some nebulous “feed-back” loop after the standards were done is not the same thing as involving teachers from the beginning. Supporters of Common Core never address this critical point, always parroting the answer that “thousands” of teachers were involved—somehow, somewhere—without any explanation of what that means. Let me state forcefully that this “reform” movement purposefully cut teachers out of important contributions because this “reform” movement is fueled by people with no respect for classroom teachers.

I wonder which parish will be next to pass a resolution asking for removal from Common Core?



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