Don’t miss the New Orleans inBloom discussion tomorrow on WBOK at 10:00am

This Monday (tomorrow) at 10:00 am (Central) tune into WBOK The New Orleans Imperative.  (July 1st, 2013)

You can listen online or by radio:

Dr. Sanders, Dr. James Taylor and Lee Barios will discuss the Louisiana connection between John White, inBloom, other data collection entities and why it is an essential part of the Common Core Standards/curriculum/high stakes testing regime.

One of many controversies at the Louisiana Department of Education is Superintendent John White’s decision to give personal student data to for-profit companies (which violate the federal student privacy policy). Over the past few months White has not been clear on what’s going on regarding this issue, on occasion he has denied that there was agreement with these companies and other times he has defended giving companies the personal student data. Last week White once again brought the idea up before at a BESE Board meeting. This decision has sparked an outcry from parents, communities members and government watchdog groups.

Lee Barrios retired teacher and former BESE Board candidate and Dr. James Taylor at Professor at Southern University will discuss the legality and problems with sharing student’s personal information with the public (particularly with the private sector).

Please join them:  This is a call in show. 504-260-9625


Just to keep everyone updated: John White has not produced the “multiple letters” he claims to have sent to inBloom terminating the contract he signed with Louisiana.  He promised to do so at the June 18th BESE meeting, and he has been reminded many, many times in many different formats, but he doesn’t even to deign to respond when cameras aren’t focused on him.  (When he does respond, its usually with a lie, but to date no one has held him accountable for any of the many lies he tells to the public and BESE – instead they commend him for doing a standup job.)

RSD’s Watered-down Incremental Miracle and Continued Fiscal Embarrassment

Prime examples of how you can play with numbers and claim success, and why Reformers remove historical data and refuse to release raw data to anyone except researchers and media who promise to only write nice things about them.

If I was as proud of my achievements, as these Reformers claim to be, I would be releasing my data to everyone for the world to see. It would silence all my critics overnight. Instead we are given unverifiable percentages and a slogan “Louisiana Believes”.

I don’t want to “believe”, I want to know. Show us the data, or show yourself the door.

deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog

It is very important to those promoting corporate reform in The Big Easy to show just how wonderful, how miraculous, how “rebirthful,” state takeover of New Orleans schools has been. Hurricane Katrina hit almost eight years ago (August 29, 2005); in the storm’s aftermath (and already itching to get their hands on New Orleans’ schools), the Louisiana legislature passed Act 35, which declared any Louisiana school having a school performance score (SPS) below the latest state average of 87.4 as now a part of the state-run Recovery School District (RSD). Most of those unfortunate takeover schools were in New Orleans.

In 2006, the state of Louisiana assumed control of 94 schools formerly belonging to the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB).

What is often overlooked in current discussions of RSD “success” is the fact that in 2005, the state seized control of schools with SPSs less than the then-current state average of…

View original post 3,021 more words

Jon Pelto: A Historic Victory Over the Education-Industrial Reformers

The Vallas timeline of failure.

My guess is they will appoint him to another position where he is still runs the place, but is not called a “superintendent”.

Other possibilities:
Virtual district superintendent (where his virtual credentials work)
Superintendent (actor) for Truman Show
Superintendent of trash collection college (only because he has so much garbage constantly to clean out)
Superintendent of cowpatty college (see previous)

Diane Ravitch's blog

In this post, Jonathan Pelto assembles a timeline of the stunning court decision to remove Paul Vallas as superintendent of schools of Bridgeport, Connecticut. He includes Vallas’ tenure as superintendent of schools in Chicago, where he was hailed for “saving” the schools and in Philadelphia, where he installed the nation’s most sweeping privatization plan (to that point). Philadelphia and Chicago are now in crisis. Vallas then went on to New Orleans, where he oversaw the almost total privatization of that city’s schools after Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans is hailed by the media as a success but the Recovery School District is the lowest performing district in the state of Louisiana, its top schools skim, and it is propped up by infusions of millions of philanthropic dollars.

View original post

“Financial Irresponsibility and Incompetence”: Louisiana Superintendent John White Perfectly Describes School Voucher Program

Nice recap of New Living Word fiasco from Lamar White. Where are all the voucher supporters like LaBAEO now? Don’t they support choice without oversight or restrictions?

If LABEO is serious organizations really supporting vouchers as a valid “choice” they and other “choice” groups really need to do a better job self policing these applicants (or insisting on basic standards) since LDOE refuses to do so. The more fraud and abuse uncovered, the more the public will turn against these programs. But more importantly, the more children who will have their futures and future “choices” stolen from them. Are these groups really interested in the welfare of children, or simply adult “choices” regardless of their quality, safety, or fiscal responsibility?


Yesterday, after more than a year of sustained criticism in the state, national, and even international media, Louisiana Superintendent John White (no relation) announced the Department of Education was banning the New Living Word School in Ruston, Louisiana from participating in the so-called Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program (the SSEEP), more commonly known as the school voucher program. Under the direction of Governor Bobby Jindal and the majority Republican state legislature, Superintendent White is responsible for rolling out and implementing the most expansive school voucher program in the nation’s history, a program that potentially qualifies as many as 56% of Louisiana students.

And until very recently, New Living Word was the single-largest voucher school in the entire program, having initially been approved to triple its enrollment and provide 193 voucher slots. After considerable discussion, the state reduced the number of slots to 165, and according to Superintendent…

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DOA to issue RFP for contract to consolidate 23 Executive Department IT operations; hundreds of layoffs anticipated

Soon everyone will be privatized. The only job we could really do without is out absentee Governor who’s been “phoning it in” since he was elected. I wonder if anyone will have a job, except Jindal, when he’s done?

Louisiana Voice

The Division of Administration (DOA) on Friday issued a new request for proposals (RFP) for the consolidation of the information technology (IT) departments of 20 departments within the state’s Executive Branch.

July 12 is the deadline for submissions and Aug. 16 is the target date to announce the awarding of the contract, tentatively set to begin on Aug. 30, according to the RFP.

This is sure to be yet another contract to be awarded to some company who will in all likelihood underbid the cost and come back later with expensive contract amendments like F.A. Richard and Associates (FARA) with the Office of Risk Management and CNSI with the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) to mention two that come quickly to mind.

But even more important, it appears that possibly hundreds—maybe more than 1,000—of state IT employees will be losing their jobs as a result of the new…

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Wendy Lecker on the CREDO Report and the Hidden Costs of Charters

Excellent point. Charters are not all bad, but are the successful ones good enough to make up for all the bad that comes with them? I also wonder if traditional schools and districts were given more resources and autonomy if they could not produce the same or much better results?

Diane Ravitch's blog

Wendy Lecker is a civil rights attorney who is Senior Attorney at the Campaign for Fiscal Equity of the Education Law Center, which fights for resources for the neediest students.

In this post, she asks important questions about the new CREDO national study of charter schools.

Although the media claimed that the study showed either major progress for charters compared to 2009, or that they were superior to public schools, the facts are otherwise.

Lecker writes:

“The verdict is in, and it is the same as four years ago. In updating its 2009 national study on charter schools, Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) reaches the same conclusion it did in its previous study: The vast majority of charter schools in the United States are no better than public schools.

“In 2009, 83 percent of charters were the same or worse than public schools, and now about…

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The Crazycrawfish Blog would like to recognize Peter C. Cook as the newest member of the Crazycrawfish fanclub

The Crazycrawfish Blog would like to recognize Peter C. Cook as the newest member of the Crazycrawfish fanclub

It’s been a while since we in Crazycrawfish land have had a chance to welcome a new member. As some of you may know, to become a member you must write up a dedicated blog post to “yours truly” that attacks me personally but does so in such an inept way that readers will instantly know the attack is meant to be comical. Usually this is done by making absurd claims, hurling a few unnecessary insults, and demonstrating a flair for the ironic by attacking my knowledge and expertise with especially faulty and delusional reasoning of their own.

For these reasons, I induct thee, Peter C. Cook, of TFA stardom, into the Crazycrawfish fanclub for this posting. Since the club already has a president, we will make you the mascot for the time being, but with a little hard work and energy on Peter’s part I have no doubt he will be knocking at the door of a promotion to club groundskeeper.

First let us address this comment:

France’s broadside against Sci Academy is filled with the half-truths and logical fallacies that would be expected from someone with zero experience working in public schools, and thus, lacks the context needed to draw informed conclusions.

This assertion would seem to exclude most of the researchers that extol the virtue of charter schools and TFA, as well as many of the reformer’s biggest billionaire proponents like Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Waltons, Bloomberg, Michael and Susan Dell, etc. Who while never working in a school district, use data to tell us how everyone else should run theirs. To some extent I agree. We should not rely solely on data to draw conclusions. Data can be manipulated, people can misinterpret it, or interpret it in a way that supports their agenda, but denies reality. This is what Reformers like Peter Cook does, as you will see in his attack on me. When the facts don’t align with your narrative, make up some new facts or rules to suit the situation. In this case Peter is saying I should not have an opinion, no one should have an opinion, that has not worked at ground zero. As I said, this is a very interesting line of attack, but one that wildly misses the mark.

For the past 8 or so years (well not so much this last year )I’ve volunteered as an adult mentor with the Big Buddy Program in Baton Rouge. The only reason I stopped was my little buddy (who’s father was incarcerated when I started working with him in second grade) ,and his sister are about to graduate from high school. I was amazed that my little buddy had never participated in trick-or-treating with a Halloween costume, and had only done so once until I took him until he felt he was too old. I was sad that living in Louisiana, in Baton Rouge, that he had never been to a Mardi Gras Parade until took him and his sister. Now that I have my own young children it’s hard to volunteer with others for now.

Speaking of children, my children are also both in public schools in EBR, at one of the poorest schools in EBR. My wife was a former TFA teacher and I worked with her and her children who had never actually seen white people before they met her. (When I visited her a school the first time the kids crowded around us and declared we should get married because we were the only two people “like us” [white] they had ever seen.) I also accompanied her on trips to bring food to the shadiest hotels in town for families that had been evicted, while their mothers were either missing or dressed up to walk to the streets to put food on the table for all the times we couldn’t be there. My wife was the PTA president for our kids’ school, probably one of the highest poverty ones in East Baton Rouge, and we volunteered for many field trips with the kids and other school activities.

As for understanding the data, I can honestly say no one in this state, perhaps on this planet, understands Louisiana’s education data more than me. (John White fired or drove off all of the knowledgeable data folks so he could honestly say no one could provide data anymore.) I also happened to work with school data and data coordinators in every parish and school district in the state for 9 years, and was intimately familiar with many of them and their specific data, and the issues with their data. My wife and I also volunteer to host TFA students for dinners, and after Katrina we had about 8 TFA teachers staying with us at different times while they worked and looked for housing. We got to hear many of their stories at ground zero, and some of them we remain friends with to this day.

Currently I volunteer my time to work with numerous current educators, retired educators, superintendents, BESE members, non-profit children’s organizations, etc. Unlike Peter, I do not get paid to help children. I do this for free, in my free time. I am not defending teachers or specific policies because I am paid to, like Peter C. Cook. I do so because I believe in our teachers, our Louisiana citizens and I want all of our children, not just the ones charter schools like Sci Academy keep around, to have a prosperous future and a worthwhile education. I believe TFA and John White’s LDOE are stealing this dream from many of the kids I work with, and from my own children.

So let’s see what else ya got Pete. . .

France claims that unnamed “sources” asked him to investigate Sci Academy’s graduation rate, which he claims the school has manipulated in order to make it appear that they are outperforming “traditional” public schools.

Uh? This is true. That’s how I got the data and why I chose Sci Academy. Frankly I’d never heard of them before, probably because they seem to change their name every few years. I also never claimed the graduation rate was manipulated, although I did have a commenter from Louisiana’s accountability section at LDOE that claims it very likely was. My beef was they are reporting a graduation rate of around 90% or so when recruiting new students. Most parents would not know what a cohort graduation rate, and those rates are easy to manipulate at a site level, especially for an independent charter school within a larger district. It’s just a bad stat to use, without any malevolent intent necessary. Schools that drive off students are way misrepresented by that statistic. It’s like saying I’ve graduated 100% of the students I graduated. It’s meaningless. . . except when used to delude parents and the public.

The Sci Academy model might work well for advanced and committed students, the fact is, unless you want a DISTRICT or STATE graduation cohort rate of 55%, or less, (probably much less) this model will not work if a significant number of schools try to replicate it. It is dangerous for the public to believe that this is an ideal model and will doom many kids literally to death on the streets to guns, drugs and violence. The fact is, if those students are not dropping out, they are enrolling in another school, bringing down traditional schools test scores, and graduation rates. Sure, maybe Sci Academy takes everyone, but they only keep the best and discard the rest. Are you really advocating for a 55% statewide graduation rate and screw the rest of the kids who can’t keep up?

That post is why I made the distinction been a “cohort graduation rate” and a “percent graduating that start in ninth grade”, which is more precise and makes it harder to for schools to manipulate, and levels the playing field for charters that employ creative “unenrollment opportunities” for half their student populations. It might help if you actually read my report and the notations before attacking and dismissing it.

But pray tell, go on.

First of all, although I have no basis with which to assess the validity of the data used to arrive at these conclusions, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical of his grasp of the facts. For example, at another point in his post, he claims Sci Academy is “also known as New Orleans Charter and Science Academy,” which is most certainly incorrect.

Ok, because this is the name they gave LDOE as you will see below. How am I supposed to know what name they are using this week? But it’s nice to see you admit you have no basis upon which to assess the validity of my data, and if this is their sitecode, you would be the one who is most certainly incorrect, no?

Furthermore, his claim that only 46 students graduated in 2012 is in direct conflict with figures noted elsewhere.

I never claimed this was my claim, as you so studiously pointed out earlier. I was told only 46 students actually graduated. I asked LDOE to provide a count for Sci and everyone else. Why would they hide this number? Blame them if I have to rely on other data, but hiding the data does not mean they are free to claim whatever they want without people using next best available data to question it. If you have a problem with that, and charter schools have nothing to hide, I recommend you take this up with LDOE and your buddy John White. If charters are as glorious as you believe them to be, surely the data will prove that out? How could I hope to argue with such an eloquent and knowledgeable advocate as yourself? I will confer with my source and unless they provide a supporting statement or explanation I will happily amend my numbers. However, while your point does not make my point invalid, it does show that LDOE needs to be forthcoming with actual data to either, verify their claims so we can all rejoice, or to dispel these destructive myths you and your ilk seem determined to perpetuate by embracing darkness, ignorance and lies.

The second and most obvious problem here is that France is confusing Sci Academy’s graduation rate with its cohort graduation rate which are two totally different measures. It is already well-established that graduation rate is an imperfect measure of school performance. In any event, at no point has Sci Academy maintained that 92% of the students that entered

As I pointed out before, a cohort rate is actually not a valid rate for an individual site especially one contained within a much larger district. That data can be falsified very easily or collected very lazily as you point out has happened with this remark.

We’re trying to distill why it is that kids are leaving…We’re going to start valuing retention the way we value academics.”

Why are they trying to “distill” anything? We have reason codes, exit forms, and contact info. They didn’t lose 1000 kids. Call them up and ask them or collect accurate data up front for Peter Cook’s sake.

Questions of accuracy aside, a more relevant point of contention is that France is making these claims without placing them within the greater context of the challenges common to RSD schools.

Because LDOE won’t provide data??? You think that could be it? I could compile a report one school at a time of our 1500, but with weeks and months of looking for leads we will all be dead by the time I finish. Did you miss the entire point of my post? You know, the part where LDOE does not provide data but likes to make lots of claims?

While he casts aspersions from behind the “firewall” of his middle-class life in Baton Rouge, those of us who have actually worked in New Orleans’ public schools know that a high rate of student mobility is unfortunately a fact-of-life for both charters and traditional schools alike

You’re right, how could someone as coddled and isolated as me even remotely begin to understand your challenges.

Incidentally, here is Bill Gate’s house, where he is totally understanding your plight from Xanadu, an anchient Mongolian city known for its splendor (and for keepin’ it real. Word.)

Bill Gates’ house is a large mansion in the side of a hill which overlooks Lake Washington in Medina, Washington, United States of America. The 66,000-square-foot (6,100 m2) mansion is noted for its design and the technology it incorporates. It is nicknamed Xanadu 2.0[1] after the title character’s estate in Citizen Kane. It took 7 years to build and cost $63 million.

In 2009, property taxes were reported to be US $1.063 million on a total assessed value of US $147.5 million

Xanadu is the fictional estate of Charles Foster Kane, the title character of the film Citizen Kane. The estate derives its name from the real ancient Mongolian city Xanadu, known for its splendor

Eli Broad’s down to earth Brentwood estate – where he mingles with common folk.

Some of Michael Dell’s modest little cottages

I guess I am only entitled to an opinion on education policy when I can live as modestly as these folks, and Peter C. Cook. I guess I’ll have to concede that point to you. I do live in a middleclass enclave of prosperity in Baton Rouge, where my kids attend school with their peers and their 85% poverty rate. I’m such an out of touch aristocrat and should never be allowed to give opinion on schools I never attended, or had my children attend. Hmm, although I did attend Magnolia Woods, South East Middle, and Scotlandville High School (public schools in EBR) and my kids attend public school here too. Where did you attend school, Peter, and if you have kids, do they attend public schools there too?

What else ya got?

Given the tenuous economic circumstances of the families that schools like Sci Academy serve, students frequently find it necessary to switch schools, often several times over the course of their academic careers. Nevertheless, at no point does France concede that the changes in Sci Academy’s enrollment, at least in part, could be explained by this overall trend.

True. Why do we never see more kids transferring in, only out in such a dynamic environment? Of course, I learned everything I know about pimping statistics from people who promote destructive evaluation systems like VAM, that punish teachers for things that might well be beyond their control like economic circumstances, abuse, deaths in families, drug or emotional problems, etc. No excuses, right? Or does the “no excuses” mantra only apply to traditional schools and teachers, and anyone who opposes you?

MFP data from the SY 2012-2013 school year provides a good illustration of the widespread and often unpredictable nature of student mobility in the RSD. Official enrollment numbers are reported to LDOE twice a year, in October and again in February. As the data below demonstrates, enrollment in RSD schools can change – sometimes dramatically – even within the short timespan of five months. [N.B.: Ironically, enrollment at Sci Academy actually increased 9.26% over this period.]

Dude, I collected that data for 9 years. Now you are just plain annoying me with you ignorance and you lack of ability to form a cohesive argument. Please stop quoting random numbers at me. You lack any context with how to interpret them. I don’t come down you your classroom and claim to know how to teach your kids, don’t be all busting up in my data business, thinking you have a clue you know what you’re talking about.

It’s disgraceful that critics like Jason France, who have never gotten up from behind their computer screens to actually do something about the inequities in our public schools, would have the audacity to denigrate those engaged in this important work.

Perhaps that’s the lesson in all of this: before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. France and other education reform critics like him have only a superficial understanding of the facts, issues, and questions involved in the effort to improve our public schools. Until Crazy Crawfish & Co. are ready to roll up their sleeves and grapple with the challenges faced by real-life heroes like those at Sci Academy, they should do the rest of us a favor and quietly crawl back into their mud holes.

Oww, that almost hurt. (Although I do appreciate a good mudhole now and again. )

I think my man Pete needs to heed some of his own advice about criticizing someone you don’t know: Doing that can make you look like a complete tool, and reveal tragic flaws in your own character.

Unfortunately for Peter and his band of brigands, I venture out of my mudhole more and more these days.

Expect to see more of me Petey. Much more.

Thanks again for joining the fanclub!

See you soon!

Proof LDOE does not fill data requests; Sci Academy faux grad rate; and a prism through which to view the CREDO study

John White testified during the last legislative session that he is not aware of people having trouble getting access to LDOE data. This statement is wildly inconsistent with what I, and numerous other researchers have reported. I am a witness in a lawsuit against LDOE where a New Orleans researcher, for almost 2 years now, is just trying to get access to exit and entry reason codes and dates. This researcher just wants this data to track where students are going and to see if some schools are overusing certain exit codes (like exit out of state) and to examine enrollment patterns. These are studies LDOE used to do, back when they tried to verify and audit data, but which has been abandoned under John White and Paul Pastorek. LDOE, or more specifically John White and Bobby Jindal and their charter allies, do not want to know the answers to these questions – or even more likely they already know the answers and do not want you to know.

The “miraculous” success of many charter schools and New Orleans is a result of manipulated data and selective exclusion of many students. I have heard reports of many students being “exited” out-of-state or country, that are actually found wandering the streets. An “exit out-of-state or country” means no one will look for this student and the charter can keep their stats up. I’m not claiming all charter schools do this, but unless we get data to confirm or deny these claims it will be difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff – Which is what John White and other reformers want.

Now back to my request. I have heard reports of charter schools making outrageous claims about graduation rates that they were using to recruit parents and children into their programs and to tout their success. The only problem is, there is no official site-level graduation rate that has been endorsed by LDOE, or at least there was not when I worked there. There are a number of problems with applying the formula used to calculate state and school district rates to a site, not the least of which is that if students are booted from a site over the 4 years a student might be enrolled, and those students enter other schools in the district, the “booting” school might look like it has a high graduation rate, but that doesn’t equate to the rate at which students entering in 9th grade actually graduate from that school. Let me give you an example:

If a school takes in 100 students in 9th grade, and graduates only 50 of those students 4 years later, you might think this school is reporting a 50% graduation rate. However, through the magic of exit codes, this school might actually be reporting a graduation rate of 100%!

The example of this situation that was presented to me was Sci Academy. I have been trying to get data from LDOE to see how widespread this issue is in New Orleans, RSD, and among the various charters so I didn’t have to pick on just one charter school, and so I could use official numbers from our department, however based on the e-mail correspondence below, LDOE is playing dumb on my request and stalling. I have no doubt once I’ve exhausted all their stalling tactics they will assert the same claim they have for so many other researchers: that the data is too cumbersome to compile, that it doesn’t exist, or that I am not entitled to it and they don’t have to provide it. Because this is an area I worked in at LDOE, and I routinely compiled similar requests I can easily refute the first two excuses. Mrs. Nesmith knows very well what I am asking for. My sources report she was hired to her position specifically to prevent folks from getting information they needed to dispel LDOE myths. In a related story, the CREDO institute out of Stanford just released a report today based on information Kim and I prepared before I left. CREDO got every last shred of data the department had, thousands if not millions of times more than what I am requesting. Here is the CREDO MOU: credo I worked on with Kim Nesmith (that she was listed as the state contact for on page 6) in case you are curious about whether she should know about the existence of this data, whether it has been given before, and what questions CREDO was charged with answering. (My understanding was CREDO promised to put a positive spin on whatever they produced as a condition for receiving the data.)

Now, back to the Sci Academy issue, which is probably just the tip of the charter iceberg.

Sci Academy opened in the 2008-2009 School year and added one grade per year. By the 2011-2012 school year they finally graduated their first class. Community sources have relayed to me that Sci Academy, also known as New Orleans Charter and Science Academy, has been reporting graduation rates in the 88 – 92% range. However when they examined the enrollment counts the numbers didn’t add up and they asked me to investigate. I have tried for months to get legitimate data from LDOE but they are obviously playing games.

It is easy to hide behind percentages. Never trust a percentage issued by them without a denominator and numerator to back it up. (That’s probably a good rule of thumb for life.)

My investigation showed that while they can claim 92% of their students graduated that they had enrolled in 12th grade, many of their students left over the course of the 4 years. Sci Academy started with a ninth grade enrollment of 83 students. By 12th grade they had 50 of which I’m told 46 graduated. That means that students enrolling in Sci academy in 9th grade in 2008 only had a 55% chance of graduating from this school or a 45% chance of not graduating.  I’m told many of these kids went on to colleges, but you must consider that Sci Academy shed nearly half their students before achieving a near perfect graduation rate – a rate that was based solely on the students that were left in 12th grade.  And of the ones that were left, while many of them may have gone onto college,  however as far as impacting the community, Sci Academy only graduated half their students and only prepared half of less for college.  That’s the thing with numbers, in the wrong hands they can be used to mislead and lie very convincingly.

As you can see from the years 2009, 2010, and 2011, the year 2008 was not a fluke. We see students being shed in similar numbers across the grades and years. A typical result appears to be shedding about 1/3 of the students between grades 9 and 10.

I wonder if this is typical for charter schools and the underlying reason for charter “success” such that it is?

When you can exclude half of your students and send them back to the “traditional” schools or the streets, and only count the kids that finish at your school at the end, how could you not be more successful that traditional schools which must take everyone? And yet, charter schools don’t accept as many disabled students and strongly discourage them from enrolling, quickly evict students with discipline problems, and usually have much lower or zero Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students, and still they barely edge out traditional schools in many cases.

Where will the charter schools send their kids, when all the schools are charter schools, I wonder?

BELOW is my correspondence with DOE requesting data on graduate counts by site and school year.

Jason France (

Sent: Mon 6/24/13 4:50 PM To: ( Cc: John White (

Mrs. Nesmith,

Thank you for your prompt, 6 week, turnaround time to refer me to generic reports that that already existed on your website that do not satisfy my data request.  The AFR reports you referred me to do have some basic info on graduates, but only at the school district and state level, not at the site level, and the latest file i found was from 2009-2010.  As you may or may not be aware, it is currently 2013.  This would make that info more than a little dated.  I specifically asked for years 2008 – 2011 (2011-2012 graduates should have been completed last September or 9 months ago).

As you and I are both aware, LDOE and schools have access to much more accurate data, and this data is being used in raw percentage form by charters to misinform the public about school graduation rates.  I need the graduate counts by site code to dispute these numbers and properly inform parents and stakeholders.  The department has access to this data and can run a simple query to produce the numbers i requested that will take less than 2 minutes to produce.  I can provide this query if you are unable to figure this out yourself, (although as the Data Quality Director and director of data collections, I assume that won’t be necessary.)  In order to have produced the graduation rates for schools and districts you would have had to create a denominator and numerator.  If you provide those numbers I can verify your percentages and clear up any misunderstanding.

That you in advance for what I assume will be more prompt attention to this matter than you have previously shown.

P.S.  i will be posting my requests and my responses, or lack thereof, starting now (along with an explanation of why I feel LDOE is reluctant to provide these numbers and my own rough estimates of what the numbers actually are.)  This will help confirm or refute statements, made by Superintendent White to the legislature, about whether LDOE promptly or accurately responds to data requests.



From: Kim.Nesmith@LA.GOV
Subject: RE: LDOE Data
Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2013 22:39:22 +0000

Hi Jason,

 The information you requested regarding graduates can be found on the website …..

 They are published yearly in the AFSR.



 Kim Nesmith, M.Ed.

Data Quality Director

Louisiana Department of Education

Mailing Address:  P.O. Box 94064, Baton Rouge, LA 70802

Physical Address:  1201 North Third Street, Baton Rouge, LA  70802

Office:  5-179

From: Jasonfrance []
Sent: Friday, May 24, 2013 7:26 PM
To: Kim Nesmith
Subject: RE: LDOE Data
Importance: Low

 Where are we on this request? 

Sent from my Samsung smartphone on AT&T

——– Original message ——–
Subject: RE: LDOE Data
From: Kim Nesmith <Kim.Nesmith@LA.GOV>
To: Jason France <>


 What years would you like and at what level?



 Kim Nesmith, M.Ed.

Data Quality Director

Louisiana Department of Education

Mailing Address:  P.O. Box 94064, Baton Rouge, LA 70802

Physical Address:  1201 North Third Street, Baton Rouge, LA  70802

Office:  5-179

From: Jason France []
Sent: Thursday, May 09, 2013 1:02 PM
To: Kim Nesmith
Subject: RE: LDOE Data

Mrs Nesmith,

Can you send me the data listed below?


From: [redacted]

Subject: RE: LDOE Data
Date: Thu, 9 May 2013 17:11:28 +0000

HI Jason,

If you need to request info that you can’t find on the website just email out Data Director Kim Nesmith at



 From: Jason France []
Sent: Thursday, May 09, 2013 12:10 PM
To: [redacted]

Subject: RE: LDOE Data

Hi [redacted],

Thanks for the prompt reply.   Unfortunately i did not find what i was looking for.  Preferably i’d like an excel file that contains raw graduate counts, not rates, by school by year.

Something like this:

From: [redacted]

Subject: LDOE Data
Date: Thu, 9 May 2013 16:31:33 +0000

Hi Jason,

The data that you’re looking for can be found on our website’s Data Center. Please go to You’ll see the graduation links at the top.

Thank you,


Education Specialist

Louisiana Department of Education

1201 North Third Street

Baton Rouge, LA  70802



This Teacher Chose to Be Arrested

Great letter from a teacher about what it really means to put student’s first. Hint: it doesn’t involve forming pseudo-grassroots organizations secretly funded by fascist billionaires or corporate leeches. . .

Diane Ravitch's blog

Do you want to know what it really means to put students first?

It doesn’t mean making millions of dollars to promote privatization. It doesn’t mean speaking to corporate titans. It doesn’t mean fighting to strip teachers of all rights and privileges.

This is what it means. It means joining the Moral Monday protests in North Carolina. It means fighting for your students when legislators cut the budget and programs and seek to privatize the schools.

To the teacher who wrote this post, it means: I am ready to be arrested and go to jail for my students. That’s putting students first.

She writes:

Today, June 17, 2013, North Carolinians gathered for the seventh “Moral Monday” protest at the North Carolina Legislative Building. Since late May, thousands have protested the General Assembly’s ultra-conservative agenda and over 450 people have been arrested as part of a growing wave of non-violent…

View original post 857 more words

How my original “Opt Out Letter” was converted to a “form”

At the June 18th BESE meeting John White relayed that he did not recall seeing my opt-out letter and did not reply because it was something he characterized as a “form letter.”  Technically this was true.  Mine was the first letter to get sent, so it was not a form letter, however Tom Aswell at the Louisiana Voice republished it after redacting my personal info so other parents could likewise opt their children out of any data sharing using my letter as a template.  (I subsequently learned there was much swearing of my name by John White, as a result of my letter and privacy petition and campaign, but we must pick and choose our battles, right?)

A form letter type approach was adopted because Louisiana has not provided an organized method of transmitting or submitting opt-out requests and some very specific information needs to be submitted for Louisiana to identify children that are opted out, while not revealing too much information (like DOB and SSN) which could be used by identity thieves that might intercept the e-mail making the opt-out procedure as dangerous as the data sharing.

My son will be starting pre-k this year in EBR so I will be updating my opt-out request in a few weeks with his info.

Feel free to use this letter as a template for your own, or simply write your own and simply make sure to send the bolded data elements.  Since John White did not recall seeing my letter, even thought I sent it to him and most of his senior staff and legal counsel, I would recommend making sure you send it to more folks than just John White.  I asked him to provide a method by which parents could opt-out their children without this hassle, but White did not address any future plans to make this process easy in the meeting.

Feel free to send your opt outs to any or all of: (state Superintendent of Education) (Governor Jindal’s handpicked DOE handmaiden ) (DOE chief legal counsel) (Data Quality and collections director)

My name is (PARENT’S NAME) and I am a parent of children in Louisiana public schools. This is to formally inform you that you do not have my permission to share my children’s personally identifiable student information with any external agency, researcher, non-profit group, vendor or government or quasi-government agency under any circumstances (specifically, name, DOB, SSN). They are public students in the (parish/city/parochial) school system and you have not asked my permission to share their information as required by law. I am purposefully informing you that you do not have permission to share their information unless I provide appropriate parental guidance. Their/his/her name(s) is/are (STUDENT’S OR STUDENTS’ NAME[S]). If you already have, I would like you to promptly request that his/her/their information be expunged from any data set you have already shared.

Mr. White, on the basis of your e-mails it appears you are planning on sharing this data and I will hold you personally responsible for any subsequent violations. I will be recommending that other parents likewise notify you if they do not wish their information to be shared with corporations/vendors whom you have agreed to not hold liable for any security breaches or unauthorized releases (which I don’t believe you have a legal right or authority to do). Moreover, any such release of personally identifiable information without each parent’s express permission will be a direct violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and a willfully unnecessary one since you have non-personally identifiable student identifiers and have taken great pains to claim FERPA exclusions for all other releases of de-identified student data to the media, researchers, and the general public.

Please note the section in the last paragraph below. Schools may disclose, without consent, directory information. But you must notify us when doing so. You, however, do not have my consent and you are not a school. You have my absolute, unequivocal, official refusal on record.

You also do not have a legal right to require social security numbers from any student in Louisiana. I will be recommending parents and school districts to promptly stop providing them as you seem unwilling to guard this information as required by law.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are “eligible students.”

• Parents or eligible students have the right to inspect and review the student’s education records maintained by the school. Schools are not required to provide copies of records unless, for reasons such as great distance, it is impossible for parents or eligible students to review the records. Schools may charge a fee for copies.

• Parents or eligible students have the right to request that a school correct records which they believe to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student then has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth his or her view about the contested information.

• Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student’s education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):

o School officials with legitimate educational interest;

o Other schools to which a student is transferring;

o Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;

o Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;

o Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;

o Accrediting organizations;

o To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;

o Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and

o State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.

Schools may disclose, without consent, “directory” information such as a student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. However, schools must tell parents and eligible students about directory information and allow parents and eligible students a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not disclose directory information about them. Schools must notify parents and eligible students annually of their rights under FERPA. The actual means of notification (special letter, inclusion in a PTA bulletin, student handbook, or newspaper article) is left to the discretion of each school.