Many people in Louisiana are fed up with a Bobby Jindal’s war on the public sector.

A rally is planned for April 30.

For Immediate Release
For more information contact:
Mike Stagg, Forward Louisiana
Phone: 337-962-1680
eMail: mstagg@forwardla.org

Enough Is Enough!
Louisianans to Rally For the Common Good on April 30th

BATON ROUGE — Thousands of Louisianans will gather on the steps of the state Capitol April 30th calling on the Legislature to reject Governor Bobby Jindal’s distorted and discredited policies and adopt a pro-common good agenda.

Rallying under the banner of Enough Is Enough, people from across Louisiana will gather on the steps of the state Capitol at 11 am on April 30th to reclaim our history, our culture, our infrastructure and our government. Our governor has conducted reckless social experiments on the people of Louisiana in a desperate attempt to position himself for a run for the Presidency of the United States. The human toll has been staggering. In rejecting these policies, the people of Louisiana have said “Enough Is Enough!”

The Jindal record is one of coddling corporations with tax exemptions, tax cuts for the rich, shifting the burden of government onto working families, attacking the job and retirement security of state workers, turning public education into a casino for private school operators, and dismantling essential public health infrastructure for the benefit of private interests.

The Governor’s arbitrary decision deny more than 500,000 Louisiana citizens access to health coverage under the Medicaid expansion undermines the health security of every Louisiana citizen by denying essential federal funding to healthcare providers across the state.

The refusal to participate in Medicaid expansion, combined with the privatization of the LSU Charity hospitals without provisions being made to care for the uninsured sets the stage for a fiscal, medical and human catastrophe in Louisiana.

Everyone is invited and encouraged to come to the Capitol in Baton Rouge at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 30th, 2013 to declare that “Enough Is Enough.”

Angelina Iles of Pineville, the founder of Enough Is Enough, said that after months of battling Bayou Health on behalf of her disabled brother, the proposed closure of Huey P. Long Medical Center was the final straw.

“What I learned through Bayou Health was that this was a system set up to benefit the companies that run it, but not the patients in need nor their families,” Ms. Iles said. “If I’d have let them have their way, my brother would be dead now. I would not let that happen. I can’t sit idly by and let this Governor destroy the public hospital system that belongs to us all.”

The Coalition has come together around these ideas:
We The People have rejected this Governor and his policies.
We appreciate the value of public education.
We know that we are one paycheck away from needing the services of a public hospital, or one illness away from bankruptcy.
We want public employees treated fairly.
We want higher education to remain affordable for all Louisiana families so that pathways to prosperity are not locked off behind gated communities.
We want a Louisiana where everyone has access to the basic resources and tools we will need to build successful lives here.
We want families with children with disabilities to have access to services, not waiting lists.
We want children with behavioral health issues to get the treatments and care we need to grow up to be productive citizens.
We want those with mental health issues to have access to care, regardless of our income.
We want environmental protection that safeguards the health of our communities and the natural treasures of our state, not the interests of corporate polluters.
Bobby Jindal’s policies have undermined all of the above and more. WE ARE COMING TO BATON ROUGE TO BEGIN RESTORING OUR STATE.

“The Legislature needs to catch up with the people,” said Mike Stagg, Baton Rouge coordinator of the rally. “If Legislators don’t restore balance by bringing in more revenue in a fair and responsible way, these legislators will own these cuts and they will have the same kind of unpopularity the Governor is experiencing today.”

The coalition organizing the event includes religious leaders, civic and social leaders, teachers, students, public employees, retirees, mental health, public health and social services advocates, and supporters of Medicaid expansion , from every geographic region of Louisiana.

Louisiana has had enough of Bobby Jindal and his policies of comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted.

We will make that message loud and clear on April 30th and we will offer Louisiana a clear path forward. Please come and join us.

For additional information on the rally, visit Enough Is Enough on Facebook. The event website can be found at http://www.louisianashadenough.org

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Educators in Louisiana will rally today against Bobby Jindal’s radical privatization “reforms.”

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Media writers, reporters, editors, webmasters, bloggers:

TODAY at the Capitol — Unified Education Organizations to Address Jindal Agenda

WHO: Major State Education Organizations representing Louisiana public schools

WHAT: Press conference to announce unified opposition to re-enacting elements of Acts 1 and 2 of the 2012 Session

WHEN: TODAY — Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 3 p.m.

WHERE: Steps of the Louisiana State Capitol — located at 900 N. 3rd Street in Baton Rouge

WHICH Organizations:
Coalition for Louisiana Public Education
Louisiana School Boards Association (LSBA)
Louisiana Association of School Superintendents (LASS)
Louisiana Association of School Executives (LASE)
Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE)
Louisiana Federation of Teachers (LFT)

An unprecedented alliance of education organizations will hold a joint press conference at 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, to announce their opposition to the re-enactment of elements of Governor Bobby Jindal’s education agenda.

Act 1 and Act 2 of the 2012 Legislative Session have both been declared unconstitutional by district courts.

Instead of working with stakeholders on meaningful, research-based education reform, the governor and his allies seem intent on rehashing the same failed policies that have frustrated educators and school boards around the state.

Leaders of organizations including the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE), Louisiana Association of School Executives (LASE), Louisiana Association of School Superintendents (LASS), Louisiana Federation of Teachers (LFT), and Louisiana School Boards Association (LSBA) will announce their unity plans at the press conference.

Look for these contacts today at the Capitol, or call them for more details:
CONTACT: LSBA — Executive Director Scott Richard – (225)769-3191
LASS — President Mike Faulk – (225) 791-0365
LAE — Communications Specialist Ashley Davies – (225) 343-9243 ext. 119.
LFT — Director of Public Relations Les Landon – (225) 923-1037
Coalition for Louisiana Public Education — Founder/Chairman Jack Loup — 985-373-1781
— jackloup@wildblue.net
Thank you for your coverage,
Mary K. Bellisario
Member, Coalition for Louisiana Public Education
bayouduo@bellsouth.net
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A reader offers this observation:

“Before teaching, I worked in software development. If our company released a major product revision with no quality assurance testing and no trial beta release, we would be out of business in a week as well as the laughing stock of the industry.

“Common Core is a corporate initiative written from ivory towers. Teachers had little say. The standards are poorly written and suppress innovation and learning. We have no idea if they are effective or relevant. The logo for Common Core should be a picture of lemmings going over a cliff.”

In the year that I have had this blog, I have never posted the same article twice.

I posted this one yesterday, and I am posting it again, to draw attention to some curious statements made by Bill Gates in the course of an interview. I am not picking on Bill, but drawing attention to his assumptions. What he believes matters a great deal because his billions, in tandem with federal policy (which he shapes) has a large impact on tens of millions of students and their teachers. His influence is multiplied yet again because almost every other foundation follows his lead, assuming that he knows best because he has the most money.

Yesterday I posted the interview to draw attention to the fact that his favorite technology startup is one that his foundation started, though that was not mentioned. It is inBloom, the new tech company Gates funded with $100 million, in partnership with Rupert Murdoch, to collect confidential student data, which may be used by vendors. The vendors will use the data to design and market new products, based on their access to children’s names, address, grades, test scores, disabilities, attendance, suspensions, etc. in 2011, the US Department of Education loosened the restrictions on the federal privacy act (FERPA), allowing this release of data without parents’ permission. The decision to release the data is in the hands of state education departments, not parents.

Today I call attention to two other noteworthy points.

In this exchange, Gates asserts that the foundation has figured out how to make the average teacher as effective as those in the top quartile. He neglects to mention–maybe he doesn’t know–that the implementation of these ideas has not produced this result anywhere. Gates’ ideas about teacher evaluation have been adopted in most states because the federal Department of Education made them a condition of Race to the Top and a condition to receive waivers from NCLB. Gates does not acknowledge that these test-based evaluation programs have created massive snafus, in which the district’s Teacher of the Year was fired because she was “ineffective” the next year, nor does he seem to know that these evaluation systems are inaccurate and demoralizing. In short, his new Big Idea has already failed, but no one has told him. Maybe they are afraid to tell him.

The question:

“During your SXSW speech, you held up a vial of the polio vaccine as an illustration of the power of innovation to solve a problem by redefining it. What’s the big win in education that’s similar in scope?”

Gates’ answer:

“The foundation’s biggest investment, even bigger than what we’re doing to enable technology, is in creating a personnel system for K-12 teachers that lets the average teacher move up to be as good as the top quartile. Instead of just being in isolation and getting no feedback, you can be videotaped, you can have a peer evaluator advise you on your performance. When we combine that with student surveys and principals’ feedback, we can help teachers learn from the best.”

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In this next exchange, the interviewer politely points out that so far none of Gates’ big ideas has been transformative. His response is to say that what works for one group doesn’t work for another, which is a good critique of almost everything Gates does. Another way to read his answer is that he still does not know how to transform the K-12 system; what works for highly motivated adults is not what works for extremely heterogeneous youngsters whose motivation is diverse.

The question:

“The performance of independently run public charter schools has been mixed. Breaking up large schools into smaller ones has yielded few improvements. There is little robust data about the impact of laptops, tablets, and other technology on graduation rates or test scores. Do we know enough about what works and what doesn’t to undertake large-scale interventions?

Gates’ answer:

“These are complex questions, in part because students are heterogeneous. What works for one student won’t work for another.

“I’ll give you an example. The students who go to Western Governors University [an online, not-for-profit university that is on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list in 2013] are older, in their late twenties, early thirties. They have a career goal in mind. They are fairly motivated to finish, and the curriculum is very oriented toward credentialing them for a higher-income occupation. So the persistence you see in that self-selecting group is quite phenomenal. They have very low dropout rates. But you can’t just say, “That course material and structure must work for all 18-year-olds.” In fact, we know it absolutely does not. That population has a less clear idea of why they’re at school, and they have other distractions.”

A reader sent this comment:

“I work at a cyber charter. It is ironic that the administrators at these charters make us work twelve hours a day doing inane busy work, and yet the quality of education is much worse than in public schools.

I just got home from doing state testing. At one point during the day one of the third graders raised his hand to get my attention, he had just finished the multiple choice section and was stuck on the first open-ended question. He asked me what he was supposed to do. I just told him to answer the question, we are not allowed to do much more.

After he stared at the page for fifteen minutes one of the other teachers went over to give him some encouragement and get him working. He still just stared at the page. After about an hour of this we realized that he couldn’t read or write. The other teacher told him to skip the open-ended questions and move on to the next section. In the next thirty minutes, before we noticed, he completed the next three sections.

That should have taken him 3 to 4 hours. He was just acting like he was reading the questions then filling in random bubbles. This is the only face time we will get with them all year. Not enough time to do much of anything. I wonder what will happen to this kid.

I would love a job teaching in the city. I have tried for the past three years to get a job in an inner city public school, but they are too busy firing teachers and closing buildings. They are not hiring anyone because they are losing too much money to the charters.”

In their eagerness to drag the schools and children of their states back to the early 20th century, legislators in North Carolina and South Carolina want to mandate the teaching of cursive writing. (North Carolina Los wants to pass a law mandating that all children memorize the multiplication tables.) these legislators usually spend their time coming up with ways to privatize public schools.

In this comment, handwriting expert Kate Gladstone explains why the cursive mandate is a bad idea.

Kate Gladstone writes:

The NC cursive bill is ill-advised and ill-motivated. Below are the most explainable reasons it is so: and all members of the NC Senate have by now received (from me and from some colleagues of mine(0) the same damning facts.)

By the way, I’ve recently learned that SOUTH Carolina has introduced [April 9th] an identically worded bill, against which I must now direct my efforts. The South Carolina bill is still in committee, and I am writing the committee-members an e-mail to try killing it there. For now, below) is my conclusion on the NC bill.

The originator of the “Back to Basics” bill, Rep. Pat Hurley (of Asheboro), has documentably committed misrepresentations during the presentation that she made, in support of that bill, to her fellow legislators.

Here is why I am concerned about Rep. Hurley with regard to this matter:

The extensive presentation already made to the legislature by the bill’s sponsor (Rep. Pat Hurley) documentably contains serious evasions or misrepresentations of fact. These are visible in the publicly available (WRAL-TV) video of her testimony — which was presumably under oath — to the North Carolina House Education Committee: http://www.wral.com/news/state/nccapitol/video/12268754/

In her presentatio, Rep. Hurley asserts that the importance of cursive has been proven by research done by persons whom she identifies only as the “PET scan people.” She states that this research established that the human brain “doesn’t work” (direct quote) while one is keyboarding, and that “only one half” (direct quote) of the brain actually works while one is print-writing. (It takes cursive writing, she alleges, to allow the entire brain to work).

Since her presentation does not give a checkable source for that very surprising statement, I asked her office to please send me the research, or at least a citation that could back it up. The material she chose to send in response (which I will happily forward to anyone, on request: handwritingrepair@gmail.com ) turns out, on inspection, to be seriously discrepant with the claims she makes to the House Education Committee about the research findings. (In other words: the research doesn’t say what she claims it says.) Specifically, the research she misrepresents — like other research, to be described and cited below — does not support her claim of a superiority for cursive or her claim of an essential role for cursive handwriting in education, and therefore it does not support a legislative mandate for cursive handwriting instruction.

In her presentation to the House Education Committee, Rep. Hurley denies the legality of signatures not written in cursive, which she describes as “no signatures” (direct quote), although the legality of these signatures is asserted and protected by the state and federal laws that she is sworn to uphold.

Specifically: a. The UCC 1-201(37) — North Carolina General Statutes § 25‑1‑201(37) — specifies that “‘Signed’ includes using any symbol executed or adopted with present intention to adopt or accept a writing.” b. Further, the North Carolina General Statutes 12-3(10) state, for use in statutes: “Provided, that in all cases where a written signature is required by law, the same shall be in a proper handwriting, or in a proper mark.” (Admittedly, Rep. Hurley may be choosing personally to exclude printed handwritings from the category of “a proper handwriting” — if so, she has not pointed to any legal defense or rationale for such exclusion.)

Yet another legally questionable representation made by Representative Hurley during her presentation to the House Education Committee is her claim that non-cursive handwritten signatures (e.g., printed signatures) need to be observed by two witnesses. In North Carolina, as in most states, the only signatures or marks needing witnesses are those made on a will (North Carolina General Statutes, Section 31, 3.3, on attested wills) — and in that case, two witnesses are required for all signatures (including, in other words, for cursive signatures as well as for non-cursive signatures).

Concerns other than misrepresentation of research include the significant body of research which has not been represented at all in the deliberations. This research — also forwardable by me on request — shows that the fastest, most legible handwriters do not join all letters, but only some letters: making the easiest joins, skipping the others, and using print-like shapes for letters whose cursive and printed shapes disagree. Such facts throw a revealing light on efforts to mandate a form of handwriting which requires joining all letters and using different shapes for cursive versus printed letters.

Reading cursive, of course, matters vitally. However, cursive’s cheerleaders forget that one can learn to read a writing style without learning to produce it. (If we had to learn to write every style that we needed to read, we would have to learn to read and write all over again whenever anyone invented a new font.)

For this reason, it is odd that the documents most often adduced (as the presumed evidence that writing in a particular style is the only way to learn to read that style) are the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.
Some material in each document — the Constitution’s “We the People,” for instance — is penned, not in any form of cursive at all, but in “Olde Englishe” Blackletter. Are Rep. Hurley and her supporters, crusading for cursive on the grounds that “you can’t learn to read it unless you write it,” going to call next for a mandate of “Olde Englishe” Blackletter in the elementary schools?
Reading cursive — when one does not have to learn how to write the same way — can be taught in 30 to 60 minutes to any small child who has learned to read ordinary printing. Why not just spend an inexpensive hour teaching children to read cursive — then use the time saved, and the money saved, to teach them to use some more practical form of handwriting themselves?

Most adults, after all, no longer use cursive.
In 2012, a survey of handwriting teachers (source available on request) attending a national conference sponsored by the Zaner-Bloser firm — a well-known handwriting publisher which strongly advocates for cursive — revealed that only 37 percent of these devotees of penmanship (fewer than two-fifths!) actually used cursive for their own handwriting; another 8 percent wrote in print. The majority — 55 percent — wrote a hybrid: some features of their handwriting resembled cursive, but other features of their handwriting resembled print-writing (This compares well with the research noted above, on the handwriting habits of highly effective handwriters.) Knowing this, why (and how) prioritize cursive?

The idolatrous worship cursive is not supported by fact, or by law, or by common sense. Neither should it be supported by a legislative mandate.

HandwritingThatWorks.com
Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
and the World Handwriting Contest

Earlier today, John Merrow posted a blog in which he asked, “Who Created Michelle Rhee?”

From the context, I assume he means who was responsible for making her the face of the corporate reform movement? Why was she praised by both Barack Obama and John McCain in their 2008 debate only a year after she started work as DC superintendent of schools? Why was she featured on the cover of Time and Newsweek? Why was she lionized in the national media?

All this, even though as Merrow now says, “I am also reporting that, after five years of Rhee/Henderson, the DC schools are worse off by almost every conceivable measure: graduation rates, truancy, enrollment, test scores, black-white gap and teacher and principal turnover.”

How did the national media miss these developments? Why did they turn Rhee into a superstar despite the lack of any accomplishments?

Merrow puts the blame on four suspects:

First, Rhee herself because she inflated her credentials (no Ne in the mainstream media noticed).

Second, he blames himself because he aired twelve (12!) different episodes on national gelb
Vision chronicling her progress in “reforming” the DC schools. Now, he acknowledges that there was no progress but he didn’t know it at the time.

Third, according to “conspiracy theorists,” THEY, the funders of the far-right created her, by pouring millions of dollars into her one-woman campaign to smash the unions, tenure, and pensions, while promoting charters and vouchers. On the list of THEY, he includes the Waltons, the Koch brothers, ALEC, Eli Broad, and Joel Klein.

Fourth, he blames the unions. If they had not been so intransigent, then there would have been no Michelle Rhee to battle them. This seems to be a stretch. Fred Klonsky takes issue with Merrow here.

This was in my email:

From: Education writers forum. [mailto:EWA-L@PO.MISSOURI.EDU] On Behalf Of John Merrow
Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2013 3:31 PM
To: EWA-L@PO.MISSOURI.EDU
Subject: [EWA-L] Michelle Rhee and the Missing Memo—which has turned up

Listers,

Below are the first few paragraphs of what I am posting in a few minutes. The piece runs 4300 words is fully footnoted: 40 footnotes, which appears as hashtags in the excerpt below.
I am also reporting that, after five years of Rhee/Henderson, the DC schools are worse off by almost every conceivable measure: graduation rates, truancy, enrollment, test scores, black-white gap and teacher and principal turnover.

John

Read this and prepare to gag unless you are the president of your regional Bill Gates Fan Club.

Did you know that Bill is warm and cuddly when he talks about how he plans to make US education the very best in the world without spending more? Don’t doubt for a minute that he knows how to do it. He has been reforming education for years, and think of all he has done. Well, let’s see, there is…..

The article begins:

“After almost two decades of pursuing improvements in U.S. education through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates maintains a sweeping and grand ambition. His goal for the next 20 years, he says, is to graduate roughly twice as many kids from college, move the United States up in the international rankings, and do so without spending more money. It’s as if Gates wants to apply a version of Moore’s law (in which the number of transistors that can fit on an integrated circuit double every two years) to education.”

Oh, and note his favorite Ed-tech start-ups: #1 is inBloom. In modesty, Gates does not mention that he put $100 million to underwrite a massive data warehouse designed by Rupert Murdoch’s Amplify. It will store the confidential information of millions of students and make it available for vendors without the permission of parents.

The writer received Gates’ funding in 2011.