Government & Politics

Toadying to the Tea Party: Louisiana kids and the politics of the Common Core

What is it about Common Core that throws Republican office-seekers into such a  dithering state of confusion?

For a minute there — a few months actually — it looked like Sen. David Vitter had grown a backbone and would stand up to the Tea Party on the Common Core issue.

But no.

Sen. David Vitter was strong on Common Core until his political aspirations got in the way.

Sen. David Vitter was strong on Common Core until his political aspirations got in the way.

In August he was crowing about the virtues of more rigorous education standards in a state with notoriously poor schools. Now, like Gov. Bobby Jindal, whom he aspires to succeed next year, Vitter has flipped 180 degrees.

Rather than embrace national norms now favored by most states, it’s better to let Louisiana develop its own approach, Vitter crows. Why? Because we’ve been so good at raising Louisiana’s standards ourselves?

The cynicism in both the Jindal and Vitter camps is palpable — but somehow Vitter’s about-face is more surprising because the flip-flop seems so unnecessary. It’s hard to believe any Republican can shoulder him aside as he runs for governor — and this at a time when statewide office is really no longer available to Democrats. The business community strongly supports Common Core, but presumably Vitter believes he can take their support for granted.

Jindal’s flip-flop was more understandable because his prospects for staying on the public payroll after he leaves the governor’s mansion are dimmer.

Indeed, it’s tough being Bobby Jindal these days, no matter which Bobby Jindal you’re trying to be. In his desperation to gain anti-Common Core cred, Jindal, preposterously, has seen fit to denounce the Core as a communist menace.

“But centralized planning didn’t work in Russia, it’s not working with our health care system and it won’t work in education,” Jindal declared in an anti-Common Core screed he wrote last spring for USA Today. As television viewers were reminded just yesterday, the governor has rarely missed an opportunity to continue his diatribe.

Meanwhile, back in the Soviet of Louisiana, there’s Jindal’s strenuous effort to defend the petroligarchy from the levee board lawsuit for wrecking the coast, a campaign that has included slandering former levee board member John Barry, the lawsuit’s chief proponent.

And the alternative to industry financing coastal reclamation? The federal government, of course, which already pays proportionately more of Louisiana’s public sector costs than it does for any other state in the union except Mississippi. (That doesn’t quite square with Jindal’s claim to be a states’ rights, pay-your-own-way kind of guy, but no matter.)

The recent midterm elections dealt a withering blow to what’s left of the Obama presidency but also were a setback to the Tea Party, which Jindal and Vitter are now courting so assiduously. The adults in the Republican Party wrested back the leadership that they ceded to the wacko right in 2010 and, while it remains to be seen whether the GOP’s congressional leadership can remember how to govern, one thing that seems fairly clear is that they won’t be eager to have the lunatic fringe do it for them.

Arching over the whole tangled mess, there’s the so-far-pathetic return on Jindal’s presidential yearnings. Louisiana taxpayers thought they were hiring a governor. All that rushing out of state to curry favor with conservative donors and ideologues has helped push Jindal’s in-state approval rating steadily southward. And for what? A recent Bloomberg/Des Moines Register poll put Jindal at 1 percent in Iowa, an unlucky 13th place. And his hoofing around New Hampshire on behalf of a Republican gubernatorial aspirant came to nothing in the mid-terms; the incumbent Democrat was re-elected.

The issues are all linked, of course, but let’s keep the focus on Common Core. It was once a key factor in Jindal’s campaign to position himself as a champion of school reform in a state notorious for terrible public schools. Now even the strong team he hand-picked to make it happen has turned against him.

The Common Core is controversial, no doubt about it. Thinking men and women can debate the  benchmarks recommended by the program. They can argue over the different curriculums for sale by private companies that have seen opportunity in the nationwide shift toward more rigorous instruction. Or, as the Common Core freely encourages, Louisiana can work up its own curriculum, one attuned to the state’s distinctive culture and its slowly improving record of scholastic underperformance.

But reasoned debate is not in fashion among opponents of Common Core. Instead it has seemed easier to lie about the Common Core, to hint or insist — as Vitter and Jindal now do — that it’s a curriculum dictated from Washington and forced upon the states. And of course, when that lie is exposed, which is easy to do, foes resort to the tried and true: name calling. Yes, a “satanic” president and his education secretary see merit in the Common Core. Let’s call it Obamacore

That’s the constituency Jindal and now Vitter are romancing, and it’s a particularly duplicitous  maneuver. No one knows better than Jindal that it was the nation’s governors who devised and backed Common Core, not the federal government. Jindal was one of its earliest and most vocal cheerleaders. Moreover, it’s not a curriculum; it’s a set of standards — benchmarks — that states can meet any way they see fit.

For a more seemly and intelligent approach to leadership on a hot-button issue, Jindal and Vitter might look to Marc Morial of the National Urban League — not that they ever would.

National Urban League leader Marc Morial, a former New Orleans mayor, has held steady in support of the Common Core.

National Urban League

Former New Orleans mayor Marc Morial, now head of the National Urban League, has held steady in support of the Common Core.

No, the top job at the Urban League isn’t an elective office, but anyone who thinks it isn’t highly political isn’t paying attention — and doesn’t know Morial, who, before he was mayor of New Orleans for two terms, was a state senator with notably acute political instincts.

Ensuring a decent education for all kids has been called the civil rights issue of our time. But plenty of black leaders have shied away from the Common Core, condemned it outright or praised it faintly. Not Morial. The National Urban League stands foursquare with other civil rights groups in favor of more rigorous schools for all American kids, hedging its bet only to insist that how the Common Core gets implemented is critically important and that the implementation had damn well better be equitable.

This isn’t to say Morial came effortlessly to his position. The National Urban League is tuned in to anxiety about Common Core among public school teachers, a bulwark of black political strength and middle-class black employment.

I caught up with Morial during his recent visit to the city he once ran. The weekend included a meeting of the Xavier University board, of which Morial’s a member, and the start of a search to find a successor to retiring Xavier president Norman Francis, another strong proponent of Common Core.

“You can’t have a 21st-century education system if every little red school house has its own standards,” Morial told me.

But standards aren’t the problem that worry good teachers, Morial has found. Their worry and Morial’s is implementation — the best way to meet those standards. The curriculum, whether purchased or developed by the state, has to be solid, teachers properly trained and the assessment tool — the test — has to be carefully considered.

With unaccustomed foresight, Louisiana got the test piece in place years ago. That was to give public educators time to practice with it and adjust curricula ahead of the test going live in 2016 as the measure by which school and teacher performance will be judged.

This summer, Jindal’s frantic hand-waving toward the Tea Party — his willingness to do most anything to establish himself as an anti-Common Core hardliner — led him to try aborting the contract with the testing company, a reckless 11th-hour move that the courts determined to be illegal and that John White, Jindal’s state Superintendent of Education, warned would undermine the state’s 20-year struggle to start holding its public schools accountable for what they’re supposed to do: educate kids.

Jindal was violating contract law by refusing to allow the Department of Education to pay for the tests it had ordered. He was also in violation of the state Constitution, which leaves such matters to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

In a burst of political spite that savors of Russian politics far more than the Common Core ever will, Jindal’s team responded to an imminent courtroom humiliation by slandering former allies, insinuating White was corrupt and threatening a bogus ethics probe into his effort to keep education reform on track in Louisiana.

Gov. Jindal as among the Common Core's strongest backers — until he wasn't.

Gov. Jindal was among the Common Core's strongest backers — until he wasn't.

Another Jindal gambit was, absurdly, to temporarily ice Louisiana’s application for a $15 million federal grant to advance pre-K opportunities. Why? It might be part of the Common Core agenda, Jindal insisted, before backing down. It brings to mind an anti-federalist gesture far costlier to Louisiana schools: Jindal’s dithering over an $80 million grant that would have brought broadband internet access to schools in even the most rural parts of Louisiana.

Politics is full of surprises, but based on the Iowa standings and subsequent polls, Jindal’s chances of becoming president of the United States might not look a whole lot better than yours or mine. That may be why national pundits are now assuming his more realistic goal is to lower his sights and see if someone will pick him for vice president. Or maybe throw him a cabinet post.

It’s not hard to understand why Jindal and his backers found the big prize tantalizing when his was still a fresh face. Here was a bright and precocious young man eager to leapfrog the U.S. Senate and hurl himself at the White House. And better yet, he was a prospective candidate “of color” at a time when the Republican Party is casting about for ways to broaden its reach.

Jindal’s game plan seemed obvious: tack to the right and pick up Tea Party support in the primaries, while signalling to the Republican elite that, of course, he would pivot and move back toward the center if he actually got the nomination.

But something funny happened on the road to Iowa: Jindal got outflanked on his right by two candidates with appeal to constituencies far more important to presidential politics than Americans who trace their heritage to India, as the Jindals do.

Senators Marco Rubio (with double Jindal’s support in the Iowa poll) and Ted Cruz (with seven times the support) not only carry Hispanic surnames, they are from states — Florida and Texas, respectively — that pack a whole lot more punch in the Electoral College than does Louisiana, with our paltry eight votes.

Hence, the absolute tizzy to which Jindal has reduced himself in an effort to reassure the Tea Party that he should be their guy, not Ted or Marco.

To Morial it’s simply “reprehensible” that Jindal is putting his presidential ambitions ahead of Louisiana’s kids, indeed the state itself.

“You can’t be about jobs and economic development if you’re not about human capital development,” Morial said, noting the huge benefits accruing to states like the Carolinas, that have chosen to invest heavily in education. “It’s a no-brainer.”

The sad thing is how close Jindal came to actually qualifying as an education governor. His early enthusiasm for Common Core was persuasive because it was in stride with other aspects of his agenda — one that Louisiana’s business leadership generally applauded: charter schools, vouchers, teacher accountability, beefed-up pre-K, high-stakes testing.

Support for the Common Core aligned smoothly with the Republican conviction that the nation’s schools are substandard, that teacher accountability is a key to the problem, and that more rigor might be good medicine. A less savory calculation: It was a way to stick it to the unions and to school boards, which traditionally have leaned Democratic.

In furtherance of these goals, Jindal built or backed a genuinely impressive education leadership: Chas Roemer, the BESE president, White as state superintendent, Conrad Appel as chair of the Senate* education committee. They’ve all turned against him as the governor thrashes about trying to distance himself from Common Core. But their defection can’t come as much of a surprise.

The reason Jindal backed these leaders in the first place was precisely because he knew they would be relentless in pursuit of the goal he once shared: stronger schools for Louisiana kids. They’ll continue that fight as Jindal, humiliated in court, makes a last-ditch effort to get the Legislature to bloody the Common Core during next spring’s session.

The irony is that, without standardized academic benchmarks and a thoughtfully considered testing protocol, Jindal strips Louisiana of a means to measure school performance, hold teachers and administrators accountable for their performance and reorganize failing schools — the ABC’s of a conservative school-reform agenda. Very simply, he is undermining the entire edifice he started to build as an “education governor.”

And what then will he have to show for himself?

Jindal’s a cut-and-run kind of politician. That became clear during the 2013 legislative session when he played to the grandstands with his bid to eliminate the state income tax but failed to calculate how regressive it would be to jack sales taxes even higher. The Fiscal Hawks — the state’s real conservatives — saw smoke and mirrors, called his bluff and Jindal folded on the day the session opened, abandoning even those parts of a long-overdue tax reform package that made sense and might have eased the ruinous state deficit we face as the Jindal years wind down.

However far he gets down the campaign trail in the coming political season, Jindal is sure to be dogged by a persistent question: Why, in his zeal to become president, did he see fit to shoot himself in the foot on school reform and then open fire on the entire team he had picked to help him upgrade Louisiana’s low-ranking system?

Vitter will have less to answer for. He has not postured as a politician much interested in education — a good thing given his equally unsteady hand on the Common Core issue.

*Correction: An earlier edition of this column misstated the legislative chamber in which Appel serves. 

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  • Alan Maclachlan

    To say that the controversy over Common Core is a Tea party VS: Mainstream, Right VS: Left issue is to establish a false dichotomy.

    Mercedes Schneider is a former professor in the department of Educational Psychology at Ball State University. She holds a PhD in applied statistics and research methods, and is certified to teach both English and German in Louisiana.

    She has written extensively on Common Core in her blog, Deutsch 29. Here is a link to her blog entries on that topic;

  • nickelndime

    “Relentless” is not quite the adjective I would use to describe Roemer, White, or Appel. I could however apply a couple of expletives to them to explain their misbehavior (acting, speaking, writing) and lack of ethics, but there are so many other issues in this article that can be faulted (not a geologic term), rather than focusing only on this trio of (maladjusted and bent) personalities. I have purposely excluded Jindal and Vitter in this comment, both of whom, we should consider “lost balls in the swamp” and in a category all their own. Morial is another problem. He could have been left out of this article. 12/08/2014 4:16 PM

  • nickelndime

    Mercedes Schneider is worth reading with regard to Common Core and testing (PARCC). Thanks for posting. Jindal has made more than one mistake – a major one was going along with Paul G. Pastorek’s recommendations in his own personal “Race 2 the Top,” along with Vallas and Leslie Jacobs – but trying to crayfish-weasel out of CC and PARCC is not one of his many mistakes. Bobby will need to go to India after this is over. 12/08/2014 4:23 PM

  • “The irony is that, without standardized academic benchmarks and a thoughtfully considered testing protocol, Jindal strips Louisiana of a means to measure school performance, hold teachers and administrators accountable for their performance and reorganize failing schools — the ABC’s of a conservative school-reform agenda.” Hmmm…interesting take on things, seeing that No Child Left Behind, which created the framework for school performance measures and accountability was co-authored by Ted Kennedy and George Miller, two lawmakers who few would describe as conservative. Furthermore, these same policies have been been supported by the Obama Administration.

    Otherwise, good op-ed.

  • nickelndime

    Appel doesn’t serve anybody – that’s the real misstatement. 12/09/2014 2:05 AM.

  • nickelndime

    Louisiana has received another waiver from the NCLB legislation. 12/09/2014 2:09 AM

  • nickelndime

    Louisiana has been stripped. She is naked and exposed. She wasn’t pretty in the dark, so you can imagine what She looks like in the light. She is toothless, boney, hairless, and uneducated. She is soaked, soused, and “high.” She has been pimped out way too many times, but the good ole boys are still making money off of the Old Broad, and the crazy part is that the voters and the residents keep paying the pimps for the same ole TRICKS. Poor Poor Poor Thang! She has more than one (pimp). Sure, you know who they are – politicians, judges, lawyers, bankers, institutional presidents, lawmakers, analysts, agents…who think they are going to keep the Old Girl alive for another 50 years. Well! They all claim to own a piece of HER. Forget the stiletto heels -the kind that the “French” study found turns guys (and the gals) on. She can barely stand up, much less walk in them. 12/09/2014 1:49 PM

  • RenoParent

    To learn why Common Core is not good for our students or our country
    from a pedagogical view watch this one hour teacher created video.

    This is probably the best and most thoroughly researched anti-Common
    Core presentation to date.

  • Alan Maclachlan

    One of the ironies of this entire debate over Common Core is that Louisiana did in fact have such standards and benchmarks in place before the administration of Bobby Jindal, and those standards and benchmarks were highly regarded by national critics such as Education Week. Then came the takeover of BESE by the henchmen of Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdoch, Bill Gates and others with a financial interest in a new way of doing things, and, just like that, the old standards simply disappeared from sight, apparently leading some to believe that they never even existed.
    “The irony is that, without standardized academic benchmarks and a thoughtfully considered testing protocol, Jindal strips Louisiana of a means to measure….”

  • The Louisiana Content Standards were initially developed in 1997 and remained in place up through 2012 – well into Jindal’s tenure as governor. I’m not sure anyone is trying to pretend as if the old standards never existed – in fact, that doesn’t even make any sense, since Common Core advocates incessantly reference them in explaining why CCSS should be embraced in this state.

    Second, I don’t think anyone would characterize Louisiana’s standards as “highly regarded.” Massachusetts’ standards were highly regarded; Louisiana’s were simply better than might be expected given our state’s dismal educational performance. In truth, the old standards were a mixed bag – some grades/subjects were good, while others were illogically sequenced and needed serious reworking.

    Generally speaking, however, the standards were a mile wide and an inch deep – i.e., they attempted to cover far too many topics that no teacher could reasonably be expected to cover in depth over the course of a school year. In this regard, CCSS represents a vast improvement over the previous standards because they focus on developing critical thinking skills and ensuring students have a deep understanding of the foundational concepts in ELA and math.

    Finally, in regard to “the takeover of BESE by the henchmen of Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdoch, Bill Gates and others with a financial interest in a new way of doing things,” please elucidate the chain of causation between say, Bill Gates’ advocacy of Common Core, and the financial gain you and others like to claim motivates him. I always find it interesting how people make accusations like this and yet no one goes around saying protesting Gates saying he’s trying to profit from the millions he gives to eradicate malaria for example.

  • Alan Maclachlan

    Peter–I was simply drawing from your original post, to wit; ”

    “The irony is that, without standardized academic benchmarks and a thoughtfully considered testing protocol, Jindal strips Louisiana of a means to measure school performance,”

    So someone must have been under the impression that such benchmarks and a testing protocol did not exist; otherwise, why did you quote that statement?

    As far as Gates’ financial interest in education “reform,” I will refer you to pages 27-28 (Step 4) of the LDOE’s technology plan, which lists the requirements for local school systems This plan requires substantial increase in the use of educational software for instructional purposes, and also requires that all End of Course tests as well as, eventually, the PARRC test be taken by computer. Why couldn’t the state and Federal Government have emulated the long-established and demonstrably successful practices of organizations such as the College Board and the ACT and allowed the tests to be taken on (much cheaper) computer-scored bubble sheets? I’m certainly not opposed to the use of technology in educational–quite the opposite–but this arbitrary mandate requires that school systems make major expenditures to purchase new computer systems to accommodate all this computerized test taking, and this benefits Bill Gates.

    And yes, if Bill Gates had made his billions from the development of a malaria vaccine and then turned around and engineered a requirement that countries with a malaria problem purchase Gates’ malaria vaccine I would be suspicious of that, too.

    As far as the interests of Gates, Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdoch, etc., in Louisiana’ movement towards “reform,” I refer you to this edition of Duanne Ravitch;s blog;

    As well as this article from NOLA.Com

    and ask you why you think that these billionaires suddenly developed such an interest in controlling the BESE Board in a state like Louisiana? Was it simply from the goodness of their hearts, or do they expect a return on their investment in terms of mining student data, subsequently to be sold to third parties for whatever purposes they see for them?

  • Alan Maclachlan

    Jed–legal or not, Bobby Jindal’s cancellation of the testing contract has had the effect he desired, as Louisiana has been left off the list of states which will administer the first round of the official PARRC tests this spring.

    This has led John White to take the extraordinary step of cobbling together a home-made substitute, using Louisiana teachers as creators of a substitute test which has never been put through the verification steps considered necessary to the creation of a valid testing instrument.

    This would be laughable except for the fact that this home-made, last minute concoction will then be used as the baseline for measuring the performance of future years of Louisiana students and teachers. How can Louisiana gain an accurate measure of its educational performance by national standards using an amateur, stand-alone test instead of a nationally normed test, and how much validity can any improvement or decline from the results of that test have when (if) they are eventually compared to the authentic item?

    The answer to that question is “none,” but Mister White is apparently proceeding full speed ahead with his scheme to do an end-around of the Governor’s decision–a scheme whose consequences have the potential to taint any meaningful interpretation of future test results in Louisiana as a measure of any progress or lack thereof.

  • Alan, you’re showing your age: the SAT is already available on computer and the ACT will be available on computer in 2015. You can’t even take any of the other major standardized tests on paper anymore: GMAT, LSAT, MCAT – all of them must be taken on computer. The transition to these newfangled “computers” had already been set into motion long before Common Core came along…If you thought there wasn’t already an inexorable movement toward the widespread use of computers in schools – as well as just everywhere – you’ve been asleep for the past 20 years.

    As for your so-called evidence you provide – Ravitch’s blog and (which is three years old at this point) – they don’t prove anything. Louisiana isn’t using inBloom and so Michael Bloomberg gave $5000 to Kira Orange Jones and $100k to a political action committee – money doesn’t buy votes.

    The thing you don’t seem able to wrap your head around without a conspiratorial narrative attached to it is this: super rich people give away their money. That’s what they do – think: Rockefeller, Carnegie, the MacArthurs. These people get to a point where they have so much money that it doesn’t make much difference whether they make anymore, plus they get to a point where they want be remembered for something more than just being a robber baron.

    Trying to portray the world as black and white, with a simplistic rich vs. poor dichotomy isn’t original and isn’t convincing either.

  • nickelndime

    Super rich people (like to) give their money away. They can’t help it. They exist on a much higher plain than the rest of us, and standing in potholes and sinkholes doesn’t help our situation either. My ASP (that’s my pet snake ASP) is on the floor laughing so hard he is nearly choking to death. And I am going over the side now. When somebody tells somebody his/her “age” is showing, that is “satanic” namecalling with a twist. Does anybody actually know how to hold a pen or a pencil anymore, or has this too become a thing of the past? Do they still teach penmanship (handwriting) in school, or is that taught via the computer keyboard too? The “elderly” probably still remember when a man’s word meant something. Now “we” have 75 pages of legal jargon to say YES. What a mess this country is in. If the electricity goes off, we will all die anyway. 12/10/2014 1:09 PM

  • nickelndime

    On behalf of THE LENS, I think that the “super rich” should submit to their altruistic urges to give their money away and make direct donations immediately to “THE LENS.” Forget the foundations and the non-profit 501(c)(3)s and the faith-based entities. Whip out those checkbooks now. Briefcases filled with large-denominational US currency (ca$h) will be greatly appreciated. Plaques will be given to $1,000,000 donors, and perpetual prayer vigils (24/7, 365) will be held upon notification of said donor’s demise. “You can’t take it with you.” This option (prayer vigil) is transferrable upon request. A shrine in honor of the $1,000,000 donor-level will have fresh flowers daily. Weepers are available in the package. Jed will devote his full attention to his editorial responsibilities and will immediately stop writing “education” articles. 12/10/2014 1:28 PM

  • Alan Maclachlan

    Ahhh, Peter, why not make a substantive response to my argument instead of immediately resorting to the ad hominem? And “Is available” and “will soon be available” is not the same thing as mandated to be taken by computer.

    Everywhere there is a presence of charter schools in Louisiana, there you will find the likes of Michael Bloomberg and his ilk writing checks to sway the outcome of school board races. It is naïve to say that money doesn’t buy votes; if you really, truly believe that, then tell Michael Bloomberg to quit wasting his money!

    WRT Bloomberg…Louisiana isn’t using InBloom because of massive parental resistance to John White’s unilateral decision to engage in a massive transfer of public school student data to that entity. OF COURSE it was Bloomberg’s intent to make money from that data mining, presented to him courtesy of a Louisiana State education official whose moral obligation is to safeguard the personal details of the school lives of Louisiana’s children, not sell them. You can read the full story here;
    And, finally, thank you for pointing out that I am “showing my age.” That remark says a great deal, and about you as well as me.

  • nickelndime

    Who or what is Pong? I must know. I am under 200 but am still eager to learn. In fact, I just finshed watching a video on, “Read a book, read a book, read a MF book.” I must say that it was exhilirating and has drastically altered my regard for the written word – indirectly of course. It’s so catchy – READ A BOOK, READ A BOOK, READ A MF BOOK! 12/10/2014 7:55 PM

  • Alan Maclachlan

    Mr. Nickel, I was introduced to Pong by Mr. Jefferson. It was “newfangled” to him, but not to me.

  • nickelndime

    Damnit, Alan. You are going to make me think – aren’t you? Give me another clue. I am still watching the “…MF Book” video and practicing my penmanship! 12/10/2014 8:39 PM

  • RJ

    You are being incredibly naive or deliberately obtuse if you think people like Bloomberg and Gates don’t have an ulterior motive for giving campaign donations in an obscure La. education election. Rich people do not donate to election campaigns without some expectation of a return favor or influence over something in the future. The Koch brothers didn’t just spend millions to buy the mid-term elections w/o some kind of prospects for future legislation going their way.

    Yes, rich people give away their money – but there’s usually something in it for them – including, but not limited to, a tax break, recognition, influence, power, return on investment, etc. In this case, influence and power. No, I don’t think profiteering off of future computer sales and data-mining is what motivated those campaign contributions and Gates’ meddling in the creation of content standards, of which he can know little about on a practical level, but there’s a link to something he wants…legacy, the power to experiment, the ability to control the lives and information of America’s youth?? He wants to see that his little education experiment is played out across the country, and he needs the people in place that will ensure that it does. Nope. Not buying that it’s completely altruistic.
    Until recently, they haven’t been so concerned with the who runs education in the deep south. So, forgive me if I ask why they care so much now and if I work out that the answer has little to do with their concern with whether little Johnny from down the bayou learns how to add and subtract a certain way.
    And, to base part of your argument on saying that the blog posts Mr. Maclachlan cited are 3 years old, is just downright lazy – as if you think you can disregard legitimate concerns because it didn’t happen yesterday. Do you also dismiss the recent CIA torture report because the incidents in which they cite happened during the Bush presidency?
    Does 3-year old information make the presumptions about their motivation any less true? They did, in fact, donate a lot of money to an obscure election in La. This state isn’t the only place this has happened. You can look at recent education elections across the country to see examples of this – even down to local school board elections in equally as obscure places.
    Got news for you – money does buy votes. It buys commercials, road signs, radio ads, endorsements, and even a well-placed, supposedly neutral op-ed in the newspaper.
    I could go on and on about this, but I’ve seen your commentary before, and I doubt I’d make much headway. I’m not against higher standards and CC, but I, and others, certainly have legitimate concerns about its creation, its appropriateness, its implementation, and its consequences to slow the runaway train long enough to get some answers. And, forgive me if I don’t want Bloomberg meddling our education affairs – this from someone who hired Cathy Black to run the NYC schools.
    And, since I’m not a sheeple and am perfectly able to think for myself, I will not blindly follow a tech-tycoon down a rabbit-hole just because he paid for some votes and made a lot of money selling computers.

  • nickelndime

    RJ is on FIRE – as in BONFIRE!!! I won’t need my candles any more. 12/11/2014 12:10 PM

  • nickelndime

    “We must rally to restore beer pong!” Alan, you are a sly one. You are older than I, but my ASP’s (that’s my pet snake ASP) relatives precede even Thomas Jefferson and go all the way back to “Garden” time. LMAspO! 12/11/2014 12:43 PM

  • Alan Maclachlan

    Ahhhh….Mister Nickel….you have let me down! Either that, or you are being deliberately sly. Here is a link to the “pong” of my reference….

  • Lee Barrios

    Hard to believe a Pulitzer Prize winning author wrote this piece. Devoid of researched facts and unavoidably sprinkled with the wornout rhetoric provided by the promoters of CC etc. Morial managed to leave town sans an indictment and is now committing an unexcusable moral crime of contributing to the exploitation of African Americans pushing the miracles of choice while he enjoys his advisory position in the Obama Administration. As for John White or any of his friends being naive? Ha. Young, inexperienced, narcissistic and greedy, yes. Naive, no. Any of the media who takes the opportunity to use their access to the public ear without knowing what the heck they are talking about are equally complicit. Louisiana standards were fully sufficient. Rigor and “height” is not a product of standards but of delivery in the classroom. Dismissing the correlation between poverty and the almighty test score may be politically expedient but it also perpetuates the real barriers for those children confined by it and avoids addressing the real issues that most contribute to our state to being 2nd highest poverty and 2nd lowest academically based on the testing measure.

  • nickelndime

    Alan, my ASP is rolling on the floor. I’m going to post the link – or email it to you. My “pong” is better than your “pong.” LMAspO! U got me DYING’ over here! 12/11/2014 2:09 PM

  • nickelndime

    Alrite, my ASP and I are all serious again. Present and accounted for, SIR! (sharp salute executed). Lee Barrios has posted a comment, and when Lee posts, I pay attention. Alan, put away your “pong” OW NAY! I don’t have to give recognition to Lee or what she writes. The lady stands on her own. And everything Lee says is on point. Plus, she’s smart. Even after all the time Lee has spent in Baton Rouge, “they” haven’t dumbed her down, and gawd knows it’s hard to maintain your sanity after being exposed to that group of people (White, BESE, Dobard, “Flim Flam Man” Dana Peterson, Roemer, Garvey, Appel…). And lastly, I have asked the “super rich” to give their money to THE LENS so Jed can return to his full time duties as editor and stop writing pieces that have the “Education” word in it. I am not an expert in anything (that is printable, anyway). LMAspO! 12/11/2014 2:29 PM

  • nickelndime

    And besides, who in the hell wants to chase Marc Morial down – besides “THE LAW” ? 12/11/2014 2:34 PM

  • KC King

    Let’s get own to concrete. The Corps’ own Performance Evaluation Team found that out pre-Katrina flood protection works were, in fact, a “system in name only”. There is no evidence that this has change in either the Corps or, more importantly, in the entire institutional context that governs our current flood risk reduction “systems” or it’s cousin, the LA Coastal Protection and Restoration Plan. Both effort use (abuse) the word “systems” but show no sign of respecting the well-understood concepts, principle or international standard practices for building resilient systems and using resilient systems engineering standard processes.

    One of the distinguishing features of Common Core is its incorporation of critical thinking and systems thinking. These were the exact elements fataly missing from Louisiana’s culture for addressing complex, catastrophic consequeces and high levels of uncertainty that characterize our flood risk and coastal future. Until our State decides to drastically change all elects of our culture that yield such inferior and dangerous thinking there is no hope for a sustainable future.

    Making such a profound and radical shift means dramatically altering our entire educational framework as well our expectations of what responsible and ethical engineering means.

  • nickelndime

    Arne Duncan was in “town” last week. Arne gave a speech that was well-received by a bunch of local and state supporters who aim to make money off of poor (at-risk) students who attend public schools in New Orleans. New Orleans has a lot of poor children. Our government makes billions of dollars off of poor children – and their families. In fact, poverty numbers are going up. You could say that business is booming in “Poverty.” US Secretary of Education Duncan “high-fived” some poor little kid who, in his young innocence, believed that Arne really cares about him. Shame on Arne. Shame on John. Shame on Patrick, and shame on the whole bunch of them who don’t give a damn about the poor kids, or the middle class kids, or any kids for that matter, but sure as hell don’t miss a paycheck. Then Arne and Mitch went over to a FirstLine Charter School, Arthur Ashe, to look at more poor kids. FirstLine’s “nonprofit” Board includes Stephen Rosenthal, brother of Leslie Jacobs, and Greg St. Etienne of Liberty Bank…to name a few. Shame on Stephen. Shame on Leslie. Shame on Greg… I don’t know which is more lost – the Louisiana coastline or public education in New Orleans, Louisiana. 12/13/2014 10:56 PM