Another day, another embarrassing SNAFU on the part of John White and his dysfunctional Louisiana Department of Education.
For that matter, you may have to include our favorite Department of Education (DOE) administrator, Lefty Lefkowith, when handing out the stink weed bouquets for the department’s infamous course choice program.
That’s the program Lefkowith was being paid $146,000 a year to set up and run between his weekly commute to and from Los Angeles.
Now, thanks to the superb digging of the Monroe News Star’s Barbara Leader, we learn that athletic scholarship for Louisiana university students may be in jeopardy because the NCAA has not approved 17 of the 19 course choice providers for Louisiana college athletes.
Uh-oh. Just another day of putting out brush fires at DOE. Remember New Living Word School in Ruston? That was the school initially approved by DOE for 315 vouchers last year despite the fact it had no classrooms, no desks and insufficient staff.
Of course, if you read the department’s Course Choice Overview and Fact Sheet, you read on the very first page that “Course providers had to pass an intensive four-step selection process.”
House Concurrent Resolution 153 by Rep. Patrick Jefferson (D-Homer) and Sens. Mike Walsworth (R-West Monroe) and Francis Thompson (D-Delhi) during the 2013 legislative session urged the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) “to study issues relative to the enrollment of students by course providers and the approval of course providers…”
That resolution noted that the DOE website “states that course providers must ‘pass an intensive four-step selection process’…”
Despite that four-step process and DOE’s “rigorous review” which began in August of 2012, Leader said an email last month from DOE Director Ken Bradford to White indicated that 17 of the 19 listed providers were not NCAA-approved. http://www.thenewsstar.com/article/20131018/NEWS01/310180037
Course Choice, overseen at one time by Lefkowith, who works only four days a week at a salary of $146,000, allows high school students who attend a C, D or F-ranked school to enroll in online courses from state-approved private providers if their schools do not offer courses needed for them to graduate.
White told Leader on Friday that virtual classes offered by providers are often used by athletes to complete high school academic requirements. Eligibility problems have never arisen in the past, he said.
That was then. This is now.
Bradford, in his email, said, “Just wanted to put this on your radar. The Choice Academic team is working with our providers to ensure they get approval/authorized with the NCAA for their core offerings. Doomsday scenario for us is that a kid takes a course, gets a scholarship and then walks on to (sic) campus and NCAA will not clear him and the scholarship is in jeopardy.”
Somehow, John White, BESE and doomsday scenario just seem to go together.
Not to diminish the damage this would inflict on affected players, but if this little crisis du jour ends up costing the eligibility of key LSU players or worse yet (in the hearts and minds of Tiger football fans, anyway), causes LSU to forfeit any or all of its wins, the fecal matter will surely hit the oscillating air redistribution device. And the collateral damage might even be felt up on the fourth floor of the State Capitol.