|John C. White|
Southwood High School junior Randall Gunn is a straight-A student.Our whiz kid State Superintendent of Education, John C. White, touts the course on the state website.
So when the school’s principal saw his name come up as registering to retake several courses online, it immediately raised a red flag. Gunn was called into a counselor’s office and told he was enrolled in three Course Choice classes — all of which he already had passed standardized tests with exceptional scores.
“I had no clue what was going on,” Gunn said. “I have no reason to take these classes and still don’t know who signed me up.”
More than 1,100 Caddo and Webster students have signed up to participate in what some say are questionable Course Choice programs. According to parents, students, and Webster and Caddo education officials, FastPath Learning is signing up some students it shouldn’t — in many cases without parent or student knowledge.
“This all goes back to all of the education reforms that were passed within eight days during last year’s session. This is what you get,” state Rep. Gene Reynolds, D-Dubberly, said of the apparent lack of oversight. “I’m not saying the idea was bad, but they are not doing it the way it should be done.”Oops! Oversight missing. If you read the entire article at the Alexandria Town Talk, you will see that the tactics used by FastPath to sign up students are no more than flim-flammery on a scale which boggles the mind. The Louisiana State Supreme Court ruled that public school funds cannot be used to pay for courses offered by private entities. Last year, the purveyors of the courses were paid with funds taken from local public school districts, and apparently no definitive decision has yet been made by the Department of Education as to whether the company can continue to sign up students for the online courses with public school funds.
But that’s not the message Webster Parish education leaders are getting from Baton Rouge. Morris Busby, the district’s supervisor of secondary education, said he was “joyous, but cautiously joyous” with the court ruling. But the next day, he was still trying to get clarification from the state’s Course Choice counselors and got the impression state education officials are “bent on going ahead."If they believe they can get away with it, Jindal and Co. appear determined to circumvent the court ruling against using public school funds to pay private entities of one kind or another to "educate" the children of Louisiana.
Excellent reporting by Vickie Welbord and Mary Nash-Wood at the Alexandria Town Talk.
H/T to Charles Pierce at Esquire.