The late comedian Brother Dave Gardner once said, “I believe if a man’s down, kick him. If he survives it, he has a chance to rise above it.”
As a loyal follower of Brother Dave since the days of my long gone wasted youth of so many years ago, it is not mine to question. I was, after all, brought up in the Baptist Church (but switched to Methodist when I married) where I was taught that faith surpasses all understanding—or something like that.
So even though my thought processes tell me it’s wrong to kick anyone, especially when he’s down, my heart must follow the teachings of the one who said he was a preacher (but he preached “for it,” whatever “it” was). To do otherwise would be blasphemy.
So here goes: It looks as though Superintendent of Education John White may have lied again (insert collective audible gasp from readers).
White, named last December by the Education Clearinghouse web blog as the worst education superintendent in the country http://educationclearinghouse.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/louisianas-john-white-the-worst-superintendent-in-the-country/, announced on April 19 that he was withdrawing student information from a non-profit database run by NewsCorp. Owner Rupert Murdoch and linked to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Or did he?
He made the announcement only days after talking up the arrangement to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), which had been unaware of his agreement to “park” student data in the inBloom “garage.”
LouisianaVoice first broke the story last February that White had entered into an agreement with inBloom to provide sensitive personal data on hundreds of thousands of Louisiana school children—with no guarantee from inBloom that the data would not be susceptible to intrusion or hacking.
The inBloom contract with Gates also would have allowed for the unrestricted subcontracting of duties and obligations covered under the agreement.
Murdoch said in 2010, “When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S.” http://www.inthepublicinterest.org/blog/jeb-bushs-education-nonprofit-really-about-corporate-profits?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+itpi-blog+%28ITPI+Commentary+Feed%29.
White met in September 2011 with Peter Gorman, senior vice president of Wireless Generation, the newly-formed education division of NewsCorp. It was in an exchange of emails with Gorman that White told Gorman, “Dude, you are my recharger.”
In a January email to White, Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) executive assistant Vicky Thomas informed White that the department was participating in the data storage agreement with inBloom.
When news of the agreement between DOE and inBloom first became public, many parents protested to DOE about the furnishing of student data to the Murdoch company. NewsCorp had been involved in a major computer hacking scandal in Europe only months before and parents were wary of allowing the release of sensitive data to his company—or anyone else.
When White made the announcement on April 19 that he was rescinding the agreement, inBloom immediately tweeted, “Louisiana still part of inBloom community. Many inaccuracies in coverage.”
LouisianaVoice made a public records request three days later on April 22, for “the official letter or email that you sent to inBloom to cancel the data storage agreement as per the lead paragraph…from the Monroe News Star.”
White, openly flaunting the state’s public records law, ignored the request until LouisianaVoice filed a lawsuit seeking that and other records requested of the department. On Thursday, May 9, only days away from next Monday’s court hearing on LouisianaVoice’s lawsuit, DOE forwarded the last of a flurry of responses to various records requests.
Those responses obviously will be used as a defense that the department did, in fact, respond to all our records requests. Overlooked, apparently, is a provision in state law that says records must be produced immediately, not several months down the road and done so only to head off pending litigation.
Thursday’s response from DOE attorney Troy Humphrey said:
“Our public information office has requested that I inform you that the Department is not in possession of any public record(s) responsive to the above-written request.”
If you have an agreement with an entity to provide personal data on hundreds of thousands of students, wouldn’t it be fair to assume there would be a contract or at least a memorandum of understanding setting out the terms and conditions of the agreement?
And if there is a contract and/or a memorandum of understanding, wouldn’t it also be fair to assume that if that agreement were cancelled by either party, there would be a letter or at least an email to that effect? A paper trail, as it were?
Is White so naïve that he can enter into and exit from an agreement as momentous as this without some official documentation?
He previously had either neglected or refused to provide copies of a memorandum of understanding with inBloom and now he’s trying to tell us that there is no written record of his withdrawing from the agreement?
Wow. Talk about a leap of faith.
Perhaps Rep. Alan Seabaugh needs to give him a call to jog his memory.
Or better yet, maybe Peter Gorman should check in. He was, after all, White’s “recharger.”
If and when Gov. Bobby Jindal or BESE President Chas Roemer gives White a “vote of confidence,” you’ll know he’s toast.