crossposted at The G Bitch Spot
In addition to the types of questions usually asked in a confirmation hearing, White had been put on notice by the committee that he should expect to answer questions about the department’s approval of New Living Word in Ruston to participate in the state’s expanded voucher program.
The school did not have the facilities, teachers or technology to accommodate the 315 students the state approved them to accept. New Living Word was accepted in compliance with the state’s approval, which did not include site visits. Questions to the department and an email obtained by The News-Star support the department’s initial statements that it “left it up to the parents” to determine if a site met their needs.
Members of the Senate committee were concerned this school was an indication of big problems in the state’s voucher program.
Knowing something would hit a fan after the embarrassment of the New Living Word story and the story of the schools on the program list that quickly went national over the “educational materials” [I’m not sure it’s a “curriculum”] used by some schools on the list, White emails Plotkin and Palmieri:
“I’d like to create a news story about ‘the next phase’ of determining seats in schools before (Sen. Ed) Murray creates an additional story for us tomorrow,” White writes to Plotkin and Palmieri. “I’d also like to take some air out of the room on the floor tomorrow and to give (Rep.) Steve (Carter, House education committee chair) some cover.”
Schools, schmools–this is about damage control, replacing what may be true with a “story” to pass whole cloth to compliant news outlets, who all know exactly who they are, and protect an ally. Why does air need to be removed from the room? So cerebral hypoxia can tweak the State Senate into submission or silence or an instant forgetting? Because who cares what the State Senate or teachers or parents or students think?
There was no second phase or plan for these voucher schools until it looked like shit had hit the fans:
In the email, White discusses how he will create the news story by releasing a communication to schools regarding a timeline for student assignment.
“This will allow us to kill multiple birds with one stone,” White writes. “It would allow us to talk through the process with the media, muddying up a narrative they’re trying to keep black and white.”
In his testimony on May 30, White said the letter to the schools concerning the due diligence process “was planned for some time.”
Just like with the emails between Penn State employees about Jerry Sandusky, the primary concern was not and was never intended to be “the children.” And just as it was in NOLA, the ends are the only relevant factor, and those ends have nothing to do with children, education, critical thinking, content standards, or democracy.
Where’s the gray area, Mr. White, in education dollars, tax dollars, public money, going to a school in which “most instruction…happens via DVD“? [Are these DVDs part of the ACE curriculum? (HT: CenLamar) Or some other Bible-centered curriculum?] There’s not a single gray area here. Public schools are jettisoning teachers as fast as Mr. White and Gov. Jindal can get the legislation from ALEC but voucher schools can have few if any teachers?
The letter that went to schools upon their approval to participate and obtained by The News-Star congratulated them for being a part of the program and gave them instructions for marketing the school and accepting applications. There was no mention of further review or further steps in the application process.
What also concerns is the effect this may be having on pushing through Jindal’s “education” agenda:
“It [“muddying up (the) narrative”] would also allow us to take some of the edge off the remaining days of the session,” he writes. “And it would chill out some of our friends, who aren’t being very helpful on the MFP by letting them know we’re thinking of the ‘criteria for participation.’ “
When asked about the email exchanges, Mr. White changes the subject to, oddly enough—and it mystifies me how conservatives often do this with a straight face—imply he’s a victim or something beyond the pale has occurred:
When contacted for comment about the email, White questioned how it was obtained.
State business is our business because we are citizens and pay taxes and your salary to provide an educational structure for the children of this state. Our not knowing your intentions or plans or how decisions are and are not made is so much our business you should be floored by it. State Senators are Not Amused:
“I’m not a bit surprised at this clandestine contact,” [Sen. Bob] Kostelka [R-West Monroe] said. “He was planning on how to CYA before he got to our committee, obviously. This is the first time that he said this was preliminary, not final and they were going to do due diligence.”
There was never a plan to do anything other than approve and send cash. The Agenda is to eradicate the public in education, except where the money comes from.
This is not an aberration. This has been The Plan and its tactics all along. Only now that it is spreading from NOLA to the rest of the state is anyone concerned about the whys, hows, results and who gets to decide what for whom.
More on Jindal and The “Education” Agenda at Louisiana Voice: