For six years, there has been an epic David v. Goliath battle being fought in Louisiana over the fate of public education in our state. The Goliaths in this fight are members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) who owe their elections to a group of out-of-state pro-charter school billionaires who have bought that board in each of the two most recent election cycles. The front man for the Goliaths is Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White, who has direct personal ties to a number of the billionaires, including former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Los Angeles businessman Eli Broad, and former Florida governor Jeb Bush. White spent about seven months running the Recovery School District before being named superintendent in January 2012 by the freshly-bought BESE members who won election in 2011. Then-governor Bobby Jindal served as in-state cheerleader for White until the two had a falling-out (real or feigned) over support for Common Core. The Davids in this struggle have been teachers and friends of public education who see the charters as an attack on teaching as a profession and as an attack on the civic role that public schools play, namely creating citizens. Among those opposing the store-bought charter advocates are a handful of activist, bloggers, and authors all of whom happen to be directly connected to public eduction and believers in its central purpose. Mike Deshotels is one of the stalwarts in that group. The retired classroom teacher has been a legal spur under John White’s saddle, having taken the superintendent to court on at least four occasions to force the release of data which Deshotels then used to discredit White’s rose-colored glasses narrative of charters’ alleged success in Louisiana, particularly in New Orleans. Deshotels has won each fight and earned the distinction of being sued by White himself — which drew some national attention. In this podcast, Deshotels talks about the way White’s Department of Education has manipulated data to spin narratives of success and what that data (obtained through the courts) ultimately revealed. Mike Deshotels discusses his persistent efforts to de-spin John White’s fairy tales. Check it out.

Matt RobertsComment