[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.
The Independent will update this blog and publish the federal letter to LDOE in its entirety as soon as we receive it.
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AUG 29 Everyone who cares about Louisiana should take time to peruse this story about coastal loss from Bob Marshall of The Lens. It's not enough to call it a story; it's an interactive experience packed with data and amazing graphics, timelines, history, photos and excellent writing. Set aside some time, because you can't go through this one in a few minutes.
JUN 29 This bizarre story from the Advocate on the shooting of a Baton Rouge television personality reads like the script of a soap opera - but not a good one. The allegations against him include sexual abuse of children, including the alleged shooter, and a sham immigration marriage involving his own daughter. The other side? He was a chaplin for the Sheriff's Office in Baton Rouge and preached in a local church.
AUG 29 Here's a story from CBS News about a killer amoeba found in the water system of St. John the Baptist Parish. The story made all three networks (CBS, ABC, NBC) as well as Fox "News," although they have not yet found out how it is Obama's fault. Seriously, the good news is that so far officials know of no one sickened by the water.
AUG 29 Huffington Post has a blog called Love Letters, which is grandly described as "an anthology of reflections on places the world over." This entry is from LSU Football Coach Les Miles, who, it appears, loves Baton Rouge. (Of course he does; he's a rich straight white man.) And certainly Baton Rouge loves him - unless he loses (ask Curley "Golden Flake" Hallman about that) or leaves (ask Nick Saban).
AUG 29 Blogger Bob Mann comments here upon Governor Bobby Jindal's federal lawsuit about Common Core. Mann calls it a "thinly veiled campaign document" and that might be the nicest thing he says in this post. Most troubling for Jindal and his aspirations, Mann has unearthed what Bobby said just a few years ago when he first decided to shove Common Core down our throats.
AUG 29 Blogger Tom Aswell has several developments here related to the so-called Edmonson amendment. The most entertaining one is possibly Tom's acknowledgement that a State Police official is (allegedly) calling the bloggers covering the story some colorful names. Listen up, cowboy: You really think two veterans like Tom Aswell and CB Forgotston care if you call them idiots?
AUG 29 Gotta love those journalists who write something with the enthusiasm that implies they're the first one to figure something out. Mostly, they're not. This is one of those times; the post on Slate Magazine says that Bobby Jindal's Common Core lawsuit is a political stunt. Well - Duh.
AUG 29 This story by WVLA tells us about a guy who got busted for speeding in Baton Rouge. Who cares? This guy took that infraction to new heights by going 129 miles per hour on Nicholson Drive. Poor fella - he probably has spent so much time sitting in Baton Rouge traffic he just had to cut lose.
AUG 28 As the controversy surrounding the Office of Group Benefits intensifies, blogger Tom Aswell gives us some background on the current problems. The OGB, which handles health insurance for current and retired state employees, is deep in the red since it was privatized by Jindal, and Aswell gives us the skinny: this great plan was designed by ALEC. The company handling it? Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana - a longtime member of ALEC.
AUG 28 Blogger CB Forgotston has a concept for a new reality show: the wives of the "Dork Dynasty." That's the name that some troopers have given to State Police Commander Mike Edmonson and his inner circle. The ladies CB has picked for his cast are not just housewives, however, and the connections here are pretty interesting.
AUG 28 Blogger Ian McGibboney is writing about the strife in Ferguson in this post, and articulating what many people down south are saying. There's a fairy tale about how there's tons of racism in the South, but it's all hunky dory up North. (Really? Look again.)
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