We Are Not A Small Group Of People

Let’s face it. Politics reside in our classrooms whether we like it, or not. In the Spring of 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). If I had to pinpoint when politics entered the classroom, I’d say it was the moment Johnson laid down that pen. Though largely ignored by people who aren’t educators, political influence over the classroom has increased steadily with the passage of each major piece of education legislation, including No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). From the moment John White was appointed Read More …

Louisiana’s Educational Facade

On June 26th, The Advocate published its article, State Plan to Revamp Public Schools Wins Compliments from Two Groups, giving praise to Louisiana’s new ESSA plan which was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education on May 3, 2017. The State’s plan has received accolades from national groups for its “ambitious goals” to improve public education in Louisiana. The two groups mentioned in this particular article are the Collaborative for Student Success (CFSS) and Bellwether Education Partners (BEP). I was not at all surprised to see these organizations offering their credibility to support Louisiana’s ESSA plan; nor, was I impressed. These organizations Read More …

Student Discrimination Resolution Pulled

You may remember that two weeks ago, Rep. Vincent Pierre voluntarily deferred HB-536 in the House education committee in lieu of a resolution to address the issue of student discrimination as it relates to student who have opted out of state assessment. It took a little longer than expected, but with the help of Scott Richard, Executive Director of the Louisiana School Boards Association, we managed to produce a resolution that would encourage school governing authorities to develop policies related to state assessments that foster positive relationships with the communities they serve. In addition, it encouraged the Board of Elementary Read More …

Superintendent Vacancy Becomes a Matter of Law

Over the last couple of months, I have been in constant contact with both the governor’s office and the senate in regards to the appointment of Superintendent of Education, John White. There is a general agreement that appointive positions are intended to be temporary extensions of the current administration. It isn’t uncommon for someone to be reappointed by an incoming administration; however, in White’s case, that has not been done. Some of the senate staff attorneys have differing opinions about how and when appointments should terminate. In order to resolve the matter, we have solicited the courts for clarity. On Read More …

Dolby Elementary Set To Lose Its Greatest Asset

As parents are attending end of the year award ceremonies, and teachers are saying their good-byes to students, there’s a sadness that lies just below the surface of the end-of-the-year excitement. The faculty, staff, students and parents of Dolby Elementary are losing who I believe is the school’s greatest asset. Nine years ago, when by son entered Pre-K, Missy Bushnell was the assistant principal of Dolby Elementary. The following year, or perhaps the year after, the principal retired and moved on to become the principal of the first charter school in the Lake Charles area, and Bushnell was selected to Read More …

HB-536: Who really puts children first?

On May 18, 2017, several bills I have been involved with were heard in the House Education Committee. One particular bill, HB-536, has been my personal labor of love for more than seven months. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Vincent Pierre, was intended to protect students from discrimination and punishment when their parent makes a decision to exclude them from state assessments. I began drafting the bill in late August 2016 after realizing that I had amassed a significant number of complaints from parents across the state detailing their experiences with their school districts when they attempted to opt-out their children Read More …

Louisiana Reformers Make A Miscalculation. Or Did They?

On Monday, May 8th, I delivered the petition shown below to the office of Senate President, John Alario. The petition, signed by 1045 citizens from every corner of Louisiana, was copied to Governor John Bel Edwards; Senate Education Committee Chairman, Dan Morrish; Senate Government Affairs Chairman, Karen Carter-Peterson; the Senate Counsel; the Advocate and NOLA.com. On Tuesday, May 9th, I went to the State Capital building to meet with LDOE and Rep. Vincent Pierre to discuss a bill that Pierre authored on my behalf. During the course of that day, I spoke with no less than 10 individuals from the Read More …

All Appointments Must Come To An End.

Sign the petition In January 2012, Chas Roemer offered a contract for employment as superintendent of education to John White, on behalf of BESE. The contract included a $275,000 salary, and a provision allowing White to continue to serve in that capacity, even after the contract terminates on January 11th, 2016, until the succeeding BESE appoints someone to fill the position. As is the case in all appointments, the law states that the term of an appointment ends with the term of the person, or official, making the appointment. In this case, BESE. Per Revised Statute 1:10, unless clearly indicated, Read More …

History Continued: Super-Intended

In reading through the official transcripts of the Constitutional Convention, the debates surrounding education were pretty intense. The legislative body moved back and forth over the decision of whether to make the superintendent elective, or appointive. As a related debate, setting forth minimum requirements for a superintendent bubbled to the top of discussions, over and over, again. Those in support of an elected superintendent believed that the public would determine the qualifications for the office by electing the best choice. Those in favor of an appointed superintendent felt strongly that the position should have established requirements to prevent the position Read More …

The Tumultuous History of the Superintendent of Education

In 1973, the Louisiana Legislature initiated what would be the 11th revision of the State Constitution. Under the leadership of 1st term governor, Edwin Edwards, they set forth with the goal of cleaning up and reducing the size of the State Constitution that had been amended hundreds of times since the last revision in 1954. The result was a document roughly 1/4 the size of the previous document. During the deliberations, the delegates had heated discussions about the content of the articles of the constitution, and it comes as no surprise that Article 8: Education was the most controversial. The Read More …