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When All Else Fails, File a Civil Rights Complaint

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In May, a national coalition that includes the Journey For Justice Alliance (J4J), the Advancement Project, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and the National Education Association (NEA), filed a civil rights complaint [see full text of complaint below] alleging that the Recovery School District’s school closure policy “provides circumstantial evidence of intentional discrimination” against African-American students. The complaint seeks to stop the RSD from closing its remaining direct-run schools, to establish a moratorium on charter school renewals and conversions, and to reestablish traditional neighborhood schools across New Orleans.

Defenders of the Recovery School District point to the involvement of AFT and NEA, as well as the fact that the complaint was filed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, as evidence that the filing is a publicity stunt aimed at discrediting the progress of New Orleans’ public schools. Louisiana State Superintendent John White was even more explicit in an interview with the Times-Picayune, saying, “The report, from a factual perspective, is a joke.” He continued:

“It is a nationally coordinated campaign to achieve political objectives, dominated by and driven by national teacher unions and other political interests (that) are doing this for everything to do with politics and nothing to do with children.”

Louisiana State Superintendent John White (left, with RSD Supt. Patrick Dobard) said, “The report, from a factual perspective, is a joke.”

Louisiana State Superintendent John White (left, with RSD Supt. Patrick Dobard) said, “The report, from a factual perspective, is a joke.”

Confused Logic and Misplaced Blame

As noted by White, a close reading of the recent complaint reveals an unconvincing, and at times, contradictory argument in making the case that the Recovery School District (RSD) discriminates against African-American students. To start, the complaint asserts that the closure of the RSD’s five remaining direct-run schools is discriminatory by virtue of the fact that the students in those schools are almost all African-American.

Apparently the complaint’s authors were unaware that a federal judge rejected that very same argument in a case in Washington, D.C. last year, in which a local activist group sought an injunction against District of Columbia Public Schools to block the closure of 15 under-enrolled and underperforming schools. Plaintiffs claimed the closures amounted to a civil rights violation because the schools slated for closure served overwhelmingly African-American and Hispanic student populations.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg dismissed a similar complaint last year saying, "The remedy Plaintiffs seek – i.e., to remain in such schools – seems curious, given that these are the conditions most people typically endeavor to escape.”

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg rejected Journey For Justice Alliance’s argument in a case in Washington, DC last spring.

In his opinion dismissing the suit, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg lambasted the plantiffs’ position, pointing out the irony that an effort move students out of failing schools would be construed as discriminatory:

“In this case, there is no evidence whatsoever of any intent to discriminate on the part of Defendants, who are actually transferring children out of weaker, more segregated, and under-enrolled schools. The remedy Plaintiffs seek – i.e., to remain in such schools – seems curious, given that these are the conditions most people typically endeavor to escape.”

The Journey For Justice Alliance’s complaint also maintains that the admissions policies of a handful of the the city’s highest-achieving schools are designed to exclude African-American students, but it lays the blame for the problem at the feet of the wrong party.

The highest-performing – i.e., selective-admissions – public schools in New Orleans prior to Hurricane Katrina were exempt from the RSD’s takeover in November 2005. With the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) in shambles in the aftermath of the storm, many of these schools seized the opportunity to reopen as OPSB charters, while retaining their selective-admissions policies. As a result, they have continued to draw a disproportionate number of their students from a demographic that has otherwise been largely absent from the public school system: white, middle-class families.

Nine charters under the control of the Orleans Parish School Board (highlighted in yellow) have resisted joining OneApp, the RSD-run citywide enrollment system.

Nine charters under the control of the Orleans Parish School Board (highlighted in yellow) have resisted joining OneApp, the RSD-run citywide enrollment system.

These nine high-performing, selective-admissions OPSB charters have also refused to participate in OneApp, the RSD-run citywide enrollment system established to ensure that all families have a fair shot in the application process. While every school in the RSD is required to use OneApp, this subset of elite OPSB charters have chosen to retain their separate admissions processes, in spite of entreaties by both RSD officials and prominent reform advocates to join the citywide enrollment system.

The J4J coalition maintains these schools have spurned OneApp in an effort to exclude low-income and minority families who may not have the knowledge or wherewithal to navigate the various admissions processes. As OPSB-sanctioned charters, the RSD cannot legally compel these schools to join OneApp, and the school board has refused to require them to participate until their charters are renewed, which in some cases won’t happen until 2021. Nevertheless, the coalition’s complaint illogically blames the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) and RSD – not the Orleans Parish School Board – for the current state of affairs. As Superintendent White pointed out:

“It is high irony that you criticize the people who have tried to create an open-enrollment policy across all schools and have only failed to get the most privileged schools.”

Activist Karren Harper Royal, one of the signatories to the J4J civil rights complaint, blames RSD for OPSB's problem.

Activist Karran Harper Royal, one of the signatories to the civil rights complaint, blames RSD for OPSB’s problem.

RSD Critics Suddenly Change Their Tune

The coalition’s filing also signals a shift in the tactics and rhetoric of reform opponents, changes which in some cases directly contradict their earlier positions. For instance, one of the long-standing criticisms raised by opponents such as Tulane University’s Lance Hill, is that the RSD takeover created a two-tiered system of public schools in New Orleans between charter schools and those directly-run by the RSD [see video below]. They argued that while some students may getting a better education in the city’s charters, the RSD’s direct-run schools had, in effect, become a “dumping ground” for students who couldn’t cut it the city’s charter schools.

Until recently, Karran Harper Royal, a local activist who is one of the signatories to the complaint, also attacked the RSD’s direct-run schools. In an interview with Louisiana Public Broadcasting last September, Royal claimed that RSD charters outperformed direct-run schools because the most challenging students were relegated to the latter:

“Those are the schools kids go to if they can’t get into a charter school. So, if you’re really taking the lower performing kids who can’t get into other schools, it only stands to reason that the charter schools are going to outperform the traditional schools.”

Just last year, Karran Harper Royal described the RSD's direct-run schools as "dumping grounds," but now that they're being closed, she wants to keep them open.

Just last year, Royal described the RSD’s direct-run schools as “dumping grounds,” but now that they’re being closed, she wants to keep them open.

After years of decrying the district’s direct-run schools, one would expect reform critics to applaud the RSD for closing schools where, in Hill’s words, “no learning happens whatsoever.” However, once RSD announced its plan to close those schools – thereby eliminating the “dumping ground” argument – the anti-reform “party line” suddenly changed, and those same critics are now clamoring to keep the RSD’s direct-run schools open.

The Role of Teachers Unions & the Threat of a Good Example

As for John White’s accusation that the Journey For Justice civil rights complaint is part of a “nationally coordinated campaign…dominated by and driven by national teacher unions” circumstantial evidence would seem to support the claim. For example, on the same day it filed its complaint against the RSD and LDOE, the coalition also filed civil rights complaints against the Chicago and Newark school systems, two districts currently engaged in fierce battles with AFT-affiliated teachers unions.

And while Karren Harper Royal vehemently denies that unions were behind the recent complaint, she recently revealed J4J’s close relationship with the United Teachers of New Orleans (UTNO, again an AFT-affiliate) in an interview with Rethinking Schools :

“I’m very close to the United Teachers of New Orleans…I’m part of a coalition that meets over at the union office: the Coalition for Community Schools-NOLA. We participated in protests and many, many meetings with the school district about ways to keep schools as community schools rather than becoming charter schools. We’re currently involved in the Journey for Justice Listening Project.”

Notice any pattern in these photographs from a recent protest at an RSD direct-run school (top left) and at subsequent rallies in support of J4j's civil rights complaint?

Notice any pattern in these photographs from Journey For Justice events?

Furthermore, there’s AFT’s rather conspicuous presence at Journey For Justice Alliance events, including a rally in support of the complaints in Washington, D.C. attended by none other than AFT President Randi Weingarten.

But why would a national teachers union like the American Federation of Teachers want to discredit New Orleans public schools? It could have something to do with the fact that the RSD’s takeover had a devastating effect on UNTO, which was once the largest and most powerful AFT local in the state. The union, which had over 5000 members prior to the storm, saw its ranks plummet to as low as 300 within a year. Moreover, UTNO’s periodic efforts to reassert itself over the years have fizzled; the Orleans Parish School Board rejected a collective bargaining agreement with the union in 20081 and recruitment efforts at charter schools in the city2 have made little headway.

UTNO recently celebrated it's 75th Anniversary, albeit on life support.

UTNO lived to celebrate it’s 75th Anniversary, albeit on life support.

However, it’s more likely that New Orleans was targeted because the city’s post-Katrina school system poses – to borrow a phrase from Noam Chomsky – “the threat of a good example.” Although skeptics still condescendingly refer to the city’s public education system as “an experiment,” after nearly a decade of steadily rising test scores, graduation rates, and college acceptance numbers, it has become harder and harder to argue that the gains are anything but real. The experimental phase is over; the paradigm has shifted.

What New Orleans has shown is that real, sustained academic improvement is possible, even in large urban districts beset by decades of failure. The key is dismantling monolithic school system bureaucracies that too often focus on the prerogatives of entrenched interests – be they politicians, district administrators, vendors, or teachers unions – rather than the needs of students and families. Over the years, states and districts across the country [see: Tennessee’s ASD, Michigan’s EEA, Virginia’s OEI, etc.] have sought to follow New Orleans’ example and therein lies the threat.

After nine years of improvement, it's gotten hard to argue that the gains are anything but real.

After nine years of improvement, it’s gotten hard to argue that the gains are anything but real.

From this perspective, the recent civil rights complaint can be seen as a part of a cynical shift in strategy by reform opponents. Unable to explain away the overwhelming evidence that the post-Katrina school system is working, anti-reformers are instead simply attempting to portray the reforms in a racially divisive light. When the complaints were filed, Karran Harper Royal proclaimed that the RSD’s efforts represent “the new Jim Crow.” Of course, if anything, low-income and minority students have been the prime beneficiaries of the improvements in New Orleans schools. Then again, whether the Journey For Justice Alliance is working for the unions or not, one thing has never been in doubt: they’re not working for children.


  1. While Louisiana law permits collective bargaining by teachers, school districts are not required to enter into collective bargaining agreements. 
  2. However, the staff at Ben Franklin High School, which ironically is one of the schools that has refused to participate in OneApp, recently voted to join UTNO. 

Pete became involved in education reform as a 2002 Teach For America corps member in New Orleans Public Schools and has worked in various capacities at Teach For America, KIPP, TNTP, and the Recovery School District. As a consultant, he developed teacher evaluation systems and served as a strategic advisor to school district leaders in Cleveland, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. He now writes about education policy and politics and lives in New Orleans.

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No Excuses for This Charter School | PE + CO

On Tuesday, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) released a scathing report detailing the findings from an investigation into Lagniappe Academies by LDOE and Recovery School District (RSD) officials. The accusations in the report [see full report below] include:Failing to provide legally-mandated services to special education students, then doctoring forms to make it appear as if those services had been provided Creating a “Do Not Call” list of families who administrators did not want to return to the school Attempting to deceive LDOE inspectors by hastily assembling a special education classroom that did not in fact exist Ignoring requests by parents seeking special education evaluations for their children Retaining a nearly a third of students at the end of the 2013-14 school year, but in many cases, failing to notify parents of those decisions Lagniappe’s principal, Kendall Petri, welcomes a student to school after checking to make sure she doesn’t have an IEP.The report makes clear that responsibility for these acts lay with the school’s leadership, in particular, Principal Kendall Petri and Alison McCormick, the school’s Director of Positive Education, a title which would be almost laughable if the claims against the school weren’t so serious. According to LDOE, Petri told the school’s special education coordinator that SPED was not a priority and discouraged teachers from spending time addressing the needs of identified students. The report also claims McCormick encouraged teachers to cheat on standardized tests and then disparaged whistleblowers who cooperated with the state’s investigation.Alison McCormick, who urged staff to falsify documents and cheat on tests, serves as Lagniappe’s “Director of Positive Education” – no seriously, that’s her title.It’s also clear that Lagniappe’s board bears responsibility by virtue of their woeful lack of oversight – a lapse compounded by the outright denial of the problems by some board members. For example, in an interview with the Times-Picayune, Vice Chair Dan Henderson called the report, “a big distraction,” and raised the possibility that the board might sue the state.Lagniappe officials’ callous disregard for the welfare of its special needs students and their families is detestable – and if the accusations of fraudulent documentation prove to be true, they could considered criminal as well. On Wednesday, RSD Superintendent Patrick Dobard released a statement announcing he would recommend that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) rescind the school’s charter. As Dobard said, “Lagniappe failed to equitably and adequately serve its students and should no longer be allowed the privilege of serving the children of New Orleans.”CORRECTION: A previous graphic here showed Lagniappe’s board of directors, whose names I pulled from Lagniappe’s website. However, I subsequently learned the board list was out-of-date.On Thursday, BESE acted on Dobard’s recommendation, with all 11 members of board voting not to renew Lagniappe’s charter. The same day, Kendall Petri resigned her position as principal of Lagniappe and the RSD announced plans to ease the process for Lagniappe students to transition to new schools next year.While the revelations of this past week are certainly disappointing, here are three points to keep in mind in the wake of the Lagniappe scandal:I. Lagniappe’s behavior is not representative of New Orleans charters as a wholeThe Lagniappe revelations are affront to those of us who have worked hard to create a fair and equitable system of public schools that serve all students regardless of race, socio-economic background, or disability status. Over the past several years, the city’s charter schools, in concert with the RSD and organizations like New Schools for New Orleans and the Louisiana Special Education Collaborative, have redoubled their efforts to ensure that special education students receive the education they deserve.The RSD has created OneApp, a city-wide enrollment system used by all but a handful of schools managed by the Orleans Parish School Board, that is specifically structured to ensure schools can’t discriminate against students with disabilities. The district has also established a centralized expulsion hearing process to ensure that students – particularly those with special needs – are not being unfairly kicked out of schools.OneApp, the citywide enrollment system, is specifically structured to ensure schools can’t discriminate against students with disabilities.Furthermore, the RSD has pursued innovative approaches to serving the district’s special needs population. The RSD uses a unique funding structure to distribute state Minimum Foundation Program dollars to its charters which takes into account the added costs of serving students with special needs. While every district in the state receives additional funds for SPED students, the RSD allots this money based on the disability level of each special education student enrolled at a school. The per-pupil amount ranges from $1,400 for students who require speech pathology services, to $15,000 for students with severe/profound disabilities.Finally, the district is preparing to launch the New Orleans Therapeutic Day Program, a joint venture between the RSD and Orleans Parish School Board, that will serve students with severe behavioral health disabilities. The program will provide these students with wraparound support services including, individual, group, and family therapy, therapeutic recreation activities, and medication management.II. New Orleans SPED students are outperforming their peers across the stateThe RSD’s collective efforts to better serve special education students is having a demonstrable effect on student outcomes. Special education students in New Orleans’ charter schools receive the equivalent of an additional 3 months of instruction in reading and 2 months in math when compared to traditional public schools across the state. Furthermore, New Orleans charter schools outperform other Louisiana charters in reading and math instruction.As a result of this additional support, more special education students in New Orleans are graduating from high school. For example, the four-year cohort graduation rate for special education students in 2013 was significantly higher than the statewide average.III. RSD’s actions against Lagniappe demonstrate their commitment to equity and willingness to hold schools accountableCritics of New Orleans’ school reforms have made all kinds of baseless accusations against the RSD. They have attempted to call into question evidence of the dramatic gains in student achievement seen since the RSD’s takeover in 2005. They accuse the RSD and LDOE of skewing data to create a false appearance of success in New Orleans charter schools. They also attempt to portray policies aimed at ensuring equity, such as city-wide access and the RSD’s insistence on closing failing schools, as unjust.However, the actions the district have taken against Lagniappe demonstrate the RSD’s unbending commitment to ensuring all students have access to a high-quality education. After all, if the RSD was simply trying to maintain a false appearance of success, they could have very easily turned a blind eye to the unacceptable treatment of special needs students at Lagniappe. They didn’t. Instead, they conducted a thorough investigation of the abuses at the school and made the results public, then moved swiftly to rescind Lagniappe’s charter. In so doing, the RSD reaffirmed that the city’s post-Katrina public school system must serve all children, especially those with greatest needs – and that discrimination will not be tolerated.View this document on ScribdNo Excuses for This Charter School</span> <span class="entry-subtitle">Lagniappe’s Total Disregard for its Special Needs Students is Detestable, But not the norm in New Orleans Charters</span>’,url: ‘https://peterccook.com/2015/03/06/no-excuses-for-lagniappe/’,contentID: ‘post-3869’,signature: ‘Thanks for reading PE+CO. You can also find me online at http://lalegeeducation.xom, http://reformne.ws, and as always at http://twitter.com/petercook.’,suggestTags: ‘Alison McCormick,BESE,Charter Schools,edreform,education,Education reform,Kendall Petri,Lagniappe Academies,Louisiana Department of Education,Recovery School District,RSD,SPED’,providerName: ‘PE + CO’,styling: ‘full’ });return false”>  Share This Post: FacebookTwitterPocketLinkedInRedditTumblrGoogle+DiggStumbleUponEmailPrint function essb_window1534248946(oUrl,oService){essb_window_stat(oUrl,oService,3869);essb_ga_tracking(oService,”bottom”,”https://peterccook.com/2015/03/06/no-excuses-for-lagniappe/”);};function essb_pinterenst1534248946(){essb_ga_tracking(“pinterest”,”bottom”,”https://peterccook.com/2015/03/06/no-excuses-for-lagniappe/”);essb_pinterenst_stat(3869);};FacebookTwitterPocketEmail function essb_window1407605133(oUrl,oService){essb_window_stat(oUrl,oService,3869);essb_ga_tracking(oService,”postfloat”,”https://peterccook.com/2015/03/06/no-excuses-for-lagniappe/”);};function essb_pinterenst1407605133(){essb_ga_tracking(“pinterest”,”postfloat”,”https://peterccook.com/2015/03/06/no-excuses-for-lagniappe/”);essb_pinterenst_stat(3869);};Related

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Charters

Dear Board Members… An Open Letter To The Arkansas State Board Of Education

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On January 15th, I sent a letter to the members of the Arkansas State Board of Education to bring their attention to the troubling revelations about Einstein Charter Schools that have emerged over the past several months.

Last fall, the State Board of Education approved a proposal from Einstein to open a new charter school in Little Rock after Einstein officials assured board members that they would provide transportation to students. This was the same promise they made to the Orleans Parish School Board last year as part of their charter renewal agreement. As we now know, they cannot be be taken at their word.

For some reason, I never received a response from anyone on the board. Therefore, I’ve decided to publish my original letter, which I’ve reproduced in full below.


Dear Board Members,

In September, the Arkansas State Board of Education approved a proposal from Einstein Charter Schools of New Orleans to open a new K-3 school in Little Rock School District. Today, I am writing to urge you to reconsider that decision in light of a series of troubling revelations about Einstein that have emerged here in New Orleans in the intervening months.

On September 19th, just five days after SBOE approved Einstein’s charter application, the Orleans Parish School Board issued an official notice of non-compliance [see notice here] to Einstein’s CEO and board president for failing to provide bus transportation to students as required by the terms of their charter. District officials became aware of this breach-of-contract after a parent reported that Einstein had refused to provide yellow bus service for her two children (5 and 10 years old) and instead offered them public transit tokens. News reports subsequently revealed that Einstein had been refusing to provide bus transportation to dozens of students.

Six weeks later, on November 7th, Einstein was issued another notice of non-compliance [see notice here] by the Orleans Parish School Board for enrolling 26 students outside of OneApp, the city-wide enrollment system that assigns students to New Orleans’ public schools. In fact, the notice indicates that district officials previously investigated enrollment violations at Einstein in 2016 and had told administrators that the charter network needed to implement internal systems and procedures to ensure they were in compliance with the OneApp process.

These are serious violations that undermine the systems we have established to ensure that all children – regardless of race, socio-economic background, or disability status – have fair and equal access to our public schools. Since Hurricane Katrina, all of the city’s open enrollment schools – both charter and traditional – have been required to provide free bus transportation to children in pre-K through sixth grade, no matter where they live in the city. Moreover, the Orleans Parish School Board renewed Einstein’s charter last year on the condition that school provide transportation to its students.

In 2012, district officials launched OneApp to simplify the enrollment process by allowing parents to fill out only one application in which they rank schools in order of preference. These preferences are then fed into an algorithm developed by a Nobel Prize-winning economist, which in turn, assigns students to schools. OneApp ensures that schools cannot engage in so-called “creaming” or turn away students with disabilities. All schools are required to participate in OneApp and all are prohibited from enrolling students outside of the system.

Nevertheless, Einstein’s leaders have responded to the school board’s warnings with outright defiance. As a result, the district is now seeking a court order to force Einstein to comply with the busing requirement. According to The Lens, a local non-profit news outlet, Einstein CEO Shawn Toranto responded to the OneApp non-compliance notice with a letter stating they had “simply accepted children whose parents had chosen one of its schools — a hallmark of the charter movement.” She has also taken to the pages of the New Orleans Advocate in an unconvincing attempt to deflect criticism of the school, as if the rules should not apply to them.

Finally, I want to make something very clear: I am outspoken supporter of charter schools. As a former charter school board member and teacher, I have seen the impact that high-quality charters can have on the lives of children. At the same time, I also firmly believe that charter schools are only successful when they adhere to clear operational and academic standards. Given their blatant disregard for the terms of their charter contracts in New Orleans (and the possibility that they could lose their charter if they continue to defy the district), I would once again urge you to reconsider Einstein’s expansion to Little Rock.

If you would like to read more about Einstein’s charter violations:

Otherwise, thank you for your time and please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have.

Sincerely,

Peter C. Cook
New Orleans, LA

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Charters

All About The Kids? Calcasieu Teacher Plays Politics At The Expense Of Students, Taxpayers

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For more than a year, Calcasieu Parish special education teacher Ganey Arsement has been on a self-appointed crusade against education reform in Louisiana. He has blasted charters, standardized testing, Common Core, teacher evaluation, and yours truly on his blog, as well as on social media. He has worked to coordinate his attacks with the state’s teachers unions, particularly the Louisiana Association of Educators, and has sought to ingratiate himself with anti-reform politicians like Gov. John Bel Edwards and former State Rep. Brett Geymann.

Arsement with Gov. John Bel Edwards and former State Rep. Brett Geymann.

Arsement has also become an increasingly visible presence in Baton Rouge, where he has spent untold hours attending meetings of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and lobbying in the hallways of the State Capitol. In recent months, Arsement has turned his guns on State Superintendent of Education John White – the bête noire of Louisiana’s reform opponents – whom he wants replaced. After failing to convince legislators that the law required them to reconfirm White (who has been on a month-to-month contract since the beginning of 2016), Arsement filed a petition in state court late last month that seeks to remove him from office.

Through it all, Arsement has portrayed himself as a selfless defender of public education who is fighting the nefarious schemes of greedy “corporate” reformers. However, a closer examination reveals that his political adventures have instead come at the expense of students and taxpayers.

Unethical and possibly worse

Official attendance records provided to me by Calcasieu Parish Schools Superintendent Karl Bruchhaus show that Arsement missed 16.5 days of work – more than three weeks of school – over the course of the 2016-17 school year.

Enlarge

Screen-Shot-2017-06-10-at-02.52.38
Arsement's absences and Calcasieu Parish School Board holidays.

According to Bruchhaus, all but one of these days (May 9, 2017) were recorded as sick leave. State law permits teachers to take two days of personal leave per year without loss of pay. The law also allows teachers to take ten days of sick leave per year due to illness or other emergencies without loss of pay. Unused sick leave can be carried over from one year to the next.

In Arsement’s case, it is clear that he took paid sick leave on many days when he was actually playing politics in Baton Rouge. Moreover, you don’t have to take my word for it, as he admits as much several times on his blog. Here are just a few examples…

What this means is that Arsement was off doing political advocacy while his special needs students were left with a substitute (who also had to be paid) and taxpayers foot the bill. I would venture to guess that most people would find that unacceptable, especially the parents of his students.

Missing absences?

If that’s not bad enough, I’ve also identified at least one day – and possibly two days – where his attendance record says he was working, but he was actually in Baton Rouge.

Several sources have confirmed that Arsement was at the Capitol during school hours on May 2nd. Nevertheless, his attendance record does not mark him absent on that date. Why that absence is missing is unclear, but since teachers verify their timesheets, the error should have been corrected.

The second day in question is May 8th when, by his own admission, he proudly delivered a petition calling for the removal of John White to the office of Senate President John Alario. Although he does not indicate when he made that delivery, one assumes he didn’t hop in his car immediately when school ended at 3:10pm to drive two hours to Baton Rouge to drop it off. In any case, Arsement is not marked absent on May 8th, either.

Exactly why reform is needed

When Arsement claims education reform supporters “demonize” teachers, what he means is that they actually expect teachers to do the work they’re paid to do. While this may seem draconian to someone who can apparently skip entire days of work and get away with it, this is not a radical concept to most of us. When taxpayers hand over their hard-earned money to pay for public education, they expect teachers to teach. When parents send their children off to school, they expect their kids will actually spend the day learning. When Arsement instead takes a bunch of sick days to lobby lawmakers for lower standards and less accountability, he’s breaking that social contract and possibly the law. Worst of all, he’s doing a tremendous disservice to the young people in his classroom – kids who need the most help.

In his effort to rollback Louisiana’s education reform policies, Arsement has inadvertently provided a real-life illustration of why they are so desperately needed. For that at least, I thank him.

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Peter C. Cook
Peter C. Cook @petercook
New Orleans, Louisiana peterccook.com
Education Reformer • New Orleanian • Progressive • Democrat • Proud TFA alum • Check out my new side project: @retortonline
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