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Who Are Mike Deshotels’ Defenders of Public Education? Pulling Back The Curtain On His Followers

If you follow K-12 education in the Bayou State, you’re most likely familiar with Mike Deshotels, the former executive director of the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE), who is one of most vociferous opponents of the state’s education reform policies.

Although Deshotels stepped down from his role at LAE years ago, he has continued to rail against everything from standardized testing to Common Core on his blog, Louisiana Educator, where he peddles conspiracy theories, speculation, and outright lies in an effort to malign state education officials and cast doubt on the progress Louisiana’s students have made over the past 10 years.

Deshotels has also launched what he calls his “Defenders of Public Education” project, a group of like-minded educators and activists who receive periodic email updates from Deshotels keeping them informed of his skewed view on various hot-topic education issues.

I recently uncovered a few emails from Deshotels’ “Defenders of Public Education” list through an unrelated public records request.1 The most recent of these emails is from October 17th of last year. In it, Deshotels tells his Defenders that “big business and out-of-state interests are attempting to buy our State Board of Education [sic] once again” and urges them to “tell the truth about these efforts to take away the rights of our citizens and taxpayers to run our public schools” in the lead-up to last fall’s elections.

What’s more interesting, however, is that Deshotels apparently doesn’t know how to use blind carbon copy on email. Therefore, the names and email addresses of all 458 members of his “Defenders of Public Education” group are listed for anyone to see. Needless to say, it’s an interesting assemblage of folks that includes:

  • Four members of the St. Tammany Parish School Board: Jack Loup, Mary Belissario, Neal Hennegan, and Charles Harrell
  • School board members from Washington, Jefferson Davis, Assumption, and Iberville parishes, as well as Bogalusa City Schools
  • 118 employees of Bossier Parish Schools
  • 74 employees of Lincoln Parish Schools
  • 26 employees of Ouachita Parish Schools
  • 14 employees of Union Parish Schools
  • Louisiana School Boards Association executive director Scott Richard
  • Louisiana Association of Educators president Debbie Meaux
  • Southern education professor James Taylor, Tulane political science professor Celeste Lay, and ULL geographer-cum-education activist Kathleen Espinoza
  • Education reform critics Karran Harper Royal and Lee Barrios

And, that’s just a fraction of the entire list. I’ve taken the names and affiliations of everyone on the Defenders of Public Education update from last October, stripped out the email addresses, and put them into a searchable format below.


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  1. Ironically, Deshotels has been engaged in a long-running dispute with State Superintendent John White over scores of public records requests that Deshotels has submitted to the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) in recent years. 

Written by Peter Cook

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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  1. So what is your point? Mike’s blog is public and emails of most of his subscribers are public. Unless you were just promoting his blog why don’t you write about say his dispute on the test score scam. I would like to see your argument against his stats. Really, convince us he is wrong. Do they really pay you for writing this stuff?

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