I attended the meeting on September 5, 2013, and would like to thank the board members for their consideration for those of us that had statements. I felt that they truly listened to what we had to say.

From an email from Mary K. Bellisario:

Our first Community Meeting of the school year will be held at 7:00 p.m., this coming Monday evening, Sept. 9, in the Boyet Jr. High Cafeteria.
Usually School Board Representative Robin Mullett co-hosts these meetings with me, but unfortunately she has a conflict that night. She’ll be back at our October meeting.

Below is the draft agenda for Monday evening.

Special note:
Background: We’ll discuss Common Core, which was the subject of last night’s School Board meeting, written up on NOLA.com, in the Times-Picayune, and in The Advocate today. It is also pervasive on Facebook, Twitter & emails. I welcome ALL your comments. This is a very emotional issue, one that affects our children & employees. Let’s try to keep it informative, constructive and helpful!

When you make your comments, please be aware of these facts:
· The St. Tammany Parish School Board voted DOWN Race to the Top on January 5, 2010, and one of the many, many reasons was that it mandated Common Core – which had not even been written yet as of the time we had to vote. It may be new to some of you, but we’ve been dealing with it for over three years.
· Common Core is Micromanagement by the state: A few months later in 2010, the entire state was signed up for Common Core, by our Governor and then-state superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek, to be eligible for Race to the Top. They signed a legal contract with the U.S. Dept. of Education. By this round-about measure, the local decisions of 34 public school boards in our state was over-turned and micromanaged from the state level. Local boards had no “choice.”
· Common Core is mandated on all parish school boards: After the signatures, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) mandated Common Core on all school boards, which has the force of law. The board members have been dealing with these issues since 2010, and we know of no way to disobey or disregard this particular law. We have tried – through our televised school board meetings, through our public forums last October, through Community meetings like mine – to make the public aware of the aspects of Common Core, vouchers, school letter grades, standardized testing, and other major, inter-linked concerns. None of this is new.
· ST. Tammany’s BESE member, Jim Garvey, in attendance last night, when asked “Do you support Common Core,” answered, “Yes, I do.”
· BESE, made up of 11 members, appoints the State Supt. of Education, who is now John White. 8 BESE members are elected from the public (like Mr. Garvey), and 3 are appointed by the governor. Most BESE votes result in 9:2 decisions, since the governor also influences several other BESE members besides his appointees.

AGENDA for Monday, September 9, 2013

· Local school issues with the start of the new school year (besides Common Core & other state level issues);
· New administrators in our area schools;
· Gifted coursework now determined to be “on-level” rather than accelerated;
· MFP Task Force – why was it formed, how does it affect Special Ed. & Gifted/Talented; relationship to vouchers, Common Core
· Common Core State Standards – full implementation began this year, rather than next year as previously announced by the state.
· Update on Litigation, much by school boards, against the state:
1. Unconstitutional: Voucher money for non-public schools taken from MFP, the state formula to fund public schools
2. Unconstitutional: Tenure rights of teachers unconstitutionally removed, no due process remained.
3. Powers of School Boards to hear appeals from discharged employees – restored, not in the hands of a single individual; appealed
4. Vouchers in 25 parishes under Desegregation Orders: ruled that federal law (Deseg orders) prevails
5. U.S. Justice Dept. recently filed against LA over the state’s Voucher Law, as it can lead to discrimination and re-segregation.
6. Several cases are still being litigated, involving teacher evaluation, the state funding formula for public schools, etc.

Please feel free to share this email with other parents who might like to attend!

Mary K.
Mary K. Bellisario
Representative, District 15
St. Tammany Parish School Board