[UPDATE: A little after 1 p.m. Monday, LDOE sent the document in question to The Independent. Read the federal letter (peer review notes are not included) to LDOE here, and check back with The Ind's website for updates on what the letter means for Louisiana's plan for flexibility in federal accountability standards.]
If the critiques included in Louisiana’s feedback letter from the U.S. Department of Education regarding the state’s No Child Left Behind waiver application are as minimal as what state Superintendent John White outlines in a Monday Times-Picayune article, one has to wonder why the Louisiana Department of Education has been so hell bent on keeping the public record a secret.
As The Independent first reported in its Wednesday blog, “LDOE foot dragging tramples transparency,”the 26 states applying for flexibility under the stringent federal No Child Left Behind requirements have been put on notice by the U.S. Department of Education that certain components of their waiver applications must be modified before gaining final approval. It’s a critical part of the process for states seeking to opt out of the law’s cumbersome achievement benchmarks and accountability systems, as the feedback from the feds outlines both strengths and weaknesses in the alternative plans offered up by each state on how to improve the quality of public education without the red tape attached to the signature federal education law.
Louisiana is among the 26 states (plus Washington, D.C.) requesting a waiver from NCLB provisions, and the application submitted by the Louisiana Department of Education is not immune to the federal scrutiny other state applications are receiving. The U.S. Education Department sent critique letters to states April 17, but the contents of Louisiana’s letter — i.e. the deficiencies in our state’s alternative plan for achieving higher academic performance — are still being shielded from the public.
After almost an entire week of ignoring The Independent’s repeated records requests (inquiries that LDOE initially tried to claim were not available for public release), the newspaper reached out to Board of Elementary and Secondary Education members Lottie Beebe, Penny Dastugue and Holly Boffy seeking help in our struggles to obtain the public document. We also spoke with the state Attorney General’s Office to see what remedies are available to the paper in trying to compel LDOE to comply with state law.
LDOE spokeswoman Rene Greer contacted The Ind Friday afternoon and said via email that “information related to the NCLB waiver will be available to you on Monday.”
“Does that work? If so, I’m assuming you want me to provide you with the information electronically, correct?” Greer says in the email.
In The Independent’s response to Greer, we asked the department to send the document Friday afternoon and not wait until Monday because LDOE has been in violation of state sunshine laws since Friday, April 27.
Greer has yet to respond to the newspaper’s Friday afternoon email. She has also failed to return phone calls and emails sent Monday morning. As of noon Monday, The Independent still does not have the public record in hand.
But a report published Monday morning on The Times-Picayune’s website includes extensive details and comments from John White regarding the same federal feedback this newspaper is fighting to obtain, though it appears The T-P’s info came directly from White:
The state plans to release the federal government’s initial feedback Monday, along with its response. Overall, the feds praised Louisiana’s strategy for imposing standards to ensure the state’s pupils are college- or career-ready; for intervening with failing schools using the state-run Recovery School District; and for supporting local districts.
But the state also faced some pointed questions about its accountability system that might force some big changes. Among the most significant issues outlined by state Superintendent John White in an interview Friday, Louisiana will almost certainly have to drop using a standardized exam given last year to about 11,000 students with special needs known as the Louisiana Alternate Assessment 2, or LAA2, after the next academic year.
JUNE 17 If anyone ever wonders why Saints fans hate Atlanta with a capital H, here's a good indication. Radio "professionals" at an Atlanta station created an entire segment around making fun of former Saints player Steve Gleason, who is now paralyzed by ALS. Listen, nobody's ever accused DJs of being rocket scientists. But how could someone think it is amusing to pretend to ask a man with a degenerative, fatal disease if he will be alive next week? The DJs have been fired, and are now whining about how gutless their former bosses are. Wow.
JUNE 18 Here's the latest from the Advocate on the fatal hit-and-run accident allegedly involving the president of the Livingston Parish School Board. He's accused by police of hitting a 21-year-old man on a highway early Sunday and driving away. The man died at a hospital later. On Monday, police seized the president's truck and towed it away. But he's available for board meetings: apparently a $500 bond is sufficient for this type of thing over in St. Helena Parish.
JUNE 18 Former broadcast journalist Griffin Scott has posted this plea on his blog for financial assistance from his readers. Scott, who says he was fired after he wrote something fairly innocuous (for Facebook) on his wall, is suing a media giant for his job back. He's framed himself as David going after a bloated media giant, and he's probably not far off.
JUNE 18 Here's a fairly absurd column posted on DIG Magazine about the completely absurd practice of naming killer storms. Tornadoes don't have names. Blizzards don't have names. But hurricanes do, and there's a big process to bestow them, Jacques Cormery writes. He's right about the crazy assemblage of names -- this year, there's everything from Tanya to Humberto -- and his idea that we don't waste good names on killer storms is a good one.
JUNE 17 Political columnist John Maginnis has some advice for Louisiana Republicans: grow up. After the schism that occurred in this past session - fiscal hawks teaming up with Democrats to spank the Republican "majority" and hand Gov. Jindal his, er, aspirations for continued solon control -- they need to figure out how to get along with each other, Maginnis writes.
JUNE 17 Here's the Picayune's obit story for Dorothy 'Miss Dot' Domilise, the lady who made poboys at the uptown restaurant that bears her name. Miss Dot moved to New Orleans during World War II, where she met and married her husband Sam. When she passed away Friday she was 90, and had spent more than 60 of those years working at the restaurant on Annunciation Street.
JUNE 17 This editorial in the Advocate speaks in favor of the consent decrees that have federal judges overseeing police operations and the sheriff's parish prison in New Orleans. Mayor Landrieu and Sheriff Gusman can't get along, so outside forces, like the Inspector General and the judges, are needed to make sure things run right, the editorial opines.
JUNE 18 Here's a post from Manny Schewitz on Forward Progressives that is good for a chuckle. Manny had an epiphany back in November, and is sharing it with us today: he believes that Fox "News" is killing the GOP by pandering to right wing nuts. Now, don't get it twisted: Manny's not broke up about it. He says he enjoys watching the downward spiral with a shot of whiskey and "a schadenfreude chaser."
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again, it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to go public this year.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.