The false information presented in Jeff Sadow’s recent column (“A hollow case against school reform,” The Advocate, Sept. 5) demands a truthful response.
Sadow dismisses my legitimate concerns about the lack of transparency in the Louisiana Department of Education by arguing that my position as a Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member allows me to compel the department to produce data upon demand.
However, as a single BESE member, I cannot compel the state Department of Education to do anything without support from the BESE majority, which has often ignored my concerns and the concerns of citizens regarding the transparency of the department.
It is a matter of record that multiple lawsuits have been filed by citizens and research groups to obtain public information.
Sadow falsely states that I outspent my opponent in 2011 and that my campaign was “bought and paid for” by teacher unions. But my opponent spent approximately $132,000 in that election, and I spent approximately $63,000.
This can be verified online at the Louisiana Ethics Administration site: ethics.la.gov. The site also can be used to verify the fact that the majority of my campaign was financed out of my own pocket, not by special-interest groups.
Sadow cites Tulane University’s Cowen Institute as an institution that has independently corroborated the information presented by the Department of Education.
He does not mention that the Cowen Institute retracted its October report (“Beating the Odds: Academic Performance and Vulnerable Student Populations in New Orleans Public High Schools”) validating the department’s claims of success in New Orleans schools due to flawed methodology.
Sadow’s editorial paints me as someone who opposes all education reforms; however, as a BESE member and educator in the St. Martin Parish school system, I have been engaged in several of the initiatives. For example, the St. Martin school system was one of 10 school districts to pilot the teacher evaluation system and is also participating in the Act 3 Early Childhood Initiative and the Jumpstart Initiative.
I take issue with Sadow’s offensive dismissal of the legitimate concerns that parents, teachers and other citizens have about the quality, transparency and leadership of Louisiana’s public education system as an effort by a “cabal” to maintain a “Soviet-style model of education.” Such name-calling is disrespectful to citizens who feel that the state’s current education agenda is wrong and needs to be changed.
Sadow’s column was offensive for both its lack of correct information and name-calling, and I hope that The Advocate will do a better job of fact-checking its columnists in the future.
Lottie P. Beebe
member, Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education