[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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SEP 2 North Carolina's film tax incentive is about to expire, and Louisiana is getting the first benefit, this story on the Wilmington NC newspaper's website tells us. 'Banshee,' a Cinemax series from the same guy who created 'True Blood,' is moving production to New Orleans, the story says.
SEP 2 The Washington Post calls Bobby Jindal on his latest effort to get his name in the national media. In this editorial, the newspaper says Jindal's Common Core lawsuits are just aimed at "burnishing his conservative credentials for a presidential run." The paper, of course, reminds its readers that Jindal was a staunch supporter of the curriculum back when he first brought it to Louisiana.
SEP 2 Huff Post takes a look at a project by a California university which mapped hate speech on Twitter. The project counted derogatory words for homosexuals, people of different races and people with disabilities, then used colors to show where the tweets using these words originated. Spoiler alert: We don't look too good.
SEP 2 Blogger Lamar White Jr. offers this commentary on Bobby Jindal's recent comments about the current US policy toward ISIS. Jindal's sudden, shrill interest in the subject can only be attributed to his desperate desire to be president, Lamar opines. All this begs the question: Do we really want someone in the White House who is willing to say anything to get what he wants?
SEP 2 St. Mary Parish homegirl Julie Hébert lets us in on the next step in her career in this blog post. The writer/director, who has worked on shows like ER, West Wing, Numb3rs and Third Watch, has teamed up with John Ridley, the Academy Award winning screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave, for a new ABC series that will be filmed in Austin.
SEP 2 Here's another round of crazy on the Scott Rogers shooting from the Advocate. The Baton Rouge television personality was killed last week by his son-in-law (and alleged sexual abuse victim) who then turned the gun on himself. The story gets worse and worse.
SEP 2 This post on Deadline Hollywood outlines the massive tax incentive package passed by the California legislature last week. As one California solon put it, the move is a response to years of seeing movie and TV work "cannibalized by states and other countries poaching tens of thousands of good California jobs." Hey -- is he talking about us?
SEP 2 This photo essay on the NOLA Femmes blog examines homelessness in New Orleans. There are pictures of familiar intersections which look very different during tourist events than they do no a normal day in the city, and an account of the issue since Katrina. The post makes a good point: When the city rousts homeless people the day before a tourist event but calls it a "health issue," the claim rings false, doesn't it?
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.
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 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.
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