Practicing sleight of hand.

One thing is certain, politics in Louisiana is nothing, if not interesting. One could design a doctorate program around the things that have happened inside the State Capitol. Kevin P. Reilly Sr. was a colorful legislator who was born in Boston, MA and married into the Lamar Advertising business. He served for 14 years in the Louisiana House of Representatives and held the cherished Chair of the Appropriations Committee until he was removed by Speaker of the House, John Alario, for publicly criticizing Gov. Edwin Edwards who later appointed him Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Economic Development. These days, Read More …

Walking the legal tightrope.

Since it appears that all of the news media has either completely missed it, or has chosen not to report on it, I think it is worth noting that Senator John Milkovich has filed a second lawsuit in East Baton Rouge Parish on behalf of 13 plaintiffs to challenge John White’s authority to maintain the position of superintendent of education. Somehow, the letter of the law on this issue is crystal clear to most citizens of Louisiana, except for those who happen to hold a seat on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Schools (BESE). John White has a long Read More …

Comparing apples to oranges.

We’re all familiar with the term “accountability,” but do we really understand what it means as it relates to education? If you go back to the 1970s to the origins of the term, you’ll find that it referred to the framework and process of evaluating what produces the desire outcomes and reinforcing it while revising what doesn’t work. Jump forward to the 1990s, and it began to evolve into more of a contractual model where one party holds itself accountable to providing services that will produce a socially acceptable outcome. Here we are in the 2000s, and accountability has taken Read More …

Compromise where you can.

On Wednesday, October 18th, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) considered a number of policy changes related to accountability as it pertains to the Every Student Succeeds Act. Among the policies considered was the manner in which a student’s scaled score contributes points to a school’s performance score. Throughout the process of developing the ESSA plan, there was push back from groups representing various stakeholders such as parents, teachers, principals, superintendents, and school board, as well as the governor’s office. The main complaint being that Supt. White’s ESSA tour amounted to little more than a Q&A session, Read More …

The Value in Crime.

I have mentioned in several blogs that before entering the teaching profession, I worked in retail for nearly fifteen years. I worked in Loss Prevention starting part-time in college, then full-time when I couldn’t afford to continue my graduate studies. I eventually became loss prevention manager, and eventually a department manager. During that time, I witnessed everything from desperate mothers hiding a ham between their legs to feed their family to high profile socialites slipping jewelry in their purse because they suffer from kleptomania. I have seen a career employee ring up false returns to get money to pay their Read More …

Anti-Common Core Appointment to USDOE

Just one day after the appearances of four high-profile reformers at the Senate HELP Committee’s hearing on ESSA: Unleashing School Innovation praising the efforts and success of Tennessee, Louisiana and New Mexico, the news headlines were ablaze with President Trump’s appointment of Mitchell “Mick” Zais to the office of Deputy Secretary of Education. Those who have engaged in the fight against corporate education reforms might recognize the name. Zais was the South Carolina Superintendent of Education. He was elected to the position around the same time as former governor, and Trump’s current Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley was Read More …

ESSA: A Lack of State Innovation

On the morning of October 3rd, 2017 the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension committee, also known as H.E.L.P., held a hearing which they titled The Every Student Succeeds Act: Unleashing State Innovation. Based on the title of the hearing, one might expect to get an earful of innovative ideas from education leaders who have proven their worth by exploring the full potential of ESSA and improving school performance by leaps and bounds. When you learn who the panelists are, you immediately question the purpose of the hearing. Dr. Candice McQueen, Tennessee Commissioner of Education, took over as commissioner in Read More …

Freedom of Speech, For All!

In the simplest terms, the First Amendment is a guaranteed protection for the minority. This means a person, or group of people, who oppose a law, a policy, a position, a trend, or any action taken by the government, whether federal, state, or local, is guaranteed protection under the First Amendment to speak out against it. Why is this a protection for the minority? Because if you are a member of the majority that is in support of a policy, you don’t have a need to speak out against it, nor do you need protection. This right is extended to Read More …

Are Teachers Being Paid, Correctly?

In a state that continues to rank in the lower 1/3 for teacher salaries, it is sometimes comical to me to see the extent to which disdain is displayed when legislation is introduced related to the compensation of teachers. In the 2016 Regular Session, a bill was introduced by House Education Committee Chair, Nancy Landry, on behalf of a school board member in her district. The bill was intended to address a special situation where some teachers were employed on 9 month contracts, and accepted positions in a unique school that operated year around. They were compensated for the addition Read More …

Are Teachers Evaluated, Correctly?

In the regular session of 2012, the Louisiana Legislature passed and enacted HB-974, also known as Act 1. Gov. Bobby Jindal signed it into law. The bill made dramatic changes to teacher tenure, evaluation, and compensation, and also limited powers of local school boards while giving superintendents more autonomy. The bill was challenged in court because it encompassed too many statutes. While portions of the bill were stricken, the bill remains in effect. Since being enacted, a couple of amendments have been made. I won’t go into all of the details of the bill. Instead, I’ll simplify the evaluation and Read More …