Please Join My Anti-CREDO Crusade

After posting my critique of CREDO’s funding sources and shoddy statistical work and unfounded conclusions I was contacted by a few folks who had published critiques of these CREDO frauds earlier. At first I was chagrined that I had not found my fellow bloggers posts and reports earlier – I consider myself relatively up-to-date on most of the shenanigans and reform players, but I’ll admit CREDO snuck by me. My momentary embarrassment quickly turned into a resolution to ensure CREDO becomes synonymous with the Reform movement and fraudulent studies. If I didn’t know about them (as obsessed as some might say I am about fighting reformers), it’s a good bet not very many people in the mainstream have a clue. I tried to analyze why I never questioned them as a possible imposter and I came up with a few possibilities as to why they fit so nicely in my reformer blindspot.

  • CREDO makes a big point of listing their affiliation with Stanford whenever they mention their name or introduce themselves (which conjures up very liberal leaning feelings and images.) However CREDO is actually the bastard offspring of the Hoover Institute, a conservative think tank and corporate toady, both of which are funded by Pearson and the Walton [Walmart] Family Foundation – two of the biggest corporate reformers on earth. The Hoover fellows, two of which are affiliated with CREDO are some of the most pro-charter, pro-reform, anti-child folks you will ever find, Margaret E. Raymond, Director and supreme CREDO commander, and her husband, public education guerrilla terrorist
    Eric Alan Hanushek.
  • CREDO attacks virtual schools in their “studies.” Virtual schools are easy sacrificial lambs. No one expects those students to do better. Virtual schools market their services based on flexibility and occasionally lower cost, not quality of instruction, so such findings do little to impede their expansions. Because CREDO appears critical of other reformer initiatives it lends them an air of legitimacy in the eyes of many. I wonder if CREDO would be as critical of virtual charters if they started funding CREDO, as charter schools and charter associations currently do?
  • CREDO is the only entity outside of state DOEs even able to get access to the data. Certainly as much data from as many states as they have. They get vast quantities of data, and I falesly assumed they would use everything they got, and I knew if they did they would discover many significant caveats to charter “success.” It did not occur to me that they would suck up such great quantities of data, but use (or report) such a relatively small portion of it. My own experience working with them and talking to them blinded me to the real possibility that they would take all that data in the hopes of finding any possible ray of charter sunshine, but when failing to find one they would mask the true results by summarizing very broad sets of data and show charters in the most positive light they could manage.
  • CREDO touts their affiliation with a university and professors. Most people would assume (or like to assume) professors and universities are immune to political pressures and the whims and wishes of corporate donors. I realize now that is very naïve, but it was a comforting thought to have while it lasted. CREDO has violated that informal compact between citizens and universities by producing poorly reasoned, fallaciously propagandized, rubbish. They have intentionally ignored mitigating factors, like charters with selective admission standards, differences in degree of poverty, massive funding disparities, differences in degree of disability, and mischaracterized RSD (Recovery School District) schools as TPS (Traditional Public Schools) in order to show a positive separation between charters and TPS schools.

CREDO has intentionally abused our preconceptions about independent researchers, Stanford, and university independence to insert their agenda into a national education narrative. They did not disclose their affiliations, they did not disclose the limitations of their study, they did not disclose very very obvious mitigating factors like charter schools with admission standards based on test scores and past performance in declaring charter school students do better than TPS students. They did not examine the disparity in funding for charter schools versus TPS schools which can be 30% or more in states like New Jersey and New York where those numbers are published in this critique by Bruce Baker on CREDO. In Louisiana They intentionally conflated RSD, collectively the lowest or second lowest performing school district in one of the lowest performing states with TPS schools. They allowed and encouraged their research to be used an endorsement of charter schools which even their scanty and intentionally vague and misleading “research” fails to back up. They translated their results into an intentionally misleading meaningless number, number of extra school days of learning, when placed in the proper context of less than .5% of that impact being attributed to a charter school.

I would ask that you refer to these great posts by mother crusader.

This post details where CREDO gets its money and the affiliations of the key CREDO staff. Bet you didn’t know this about the head researcher on the latest CREDO report, Devora Davis:

Devora Davis, Research Manager 

Devora was at the State Board of Ed Meeting talking about the study, and has been in the press quite a bit too.  Guess what Devora did before she came to CREDO?  She was a research analyst for KIPP.  

You can follow this link to listen to Davis on KALW in San Francisco talking about charters with the KIPP Chief Academic Officer for the Bay Area, and Jill Wynns President of the California School Boards Association.  Wynns does an amazing job defending public ed, and Davis sounds a lot more like a charter cheerleader than a researcher.

This post details how the head of CREDO, Margaret Raymond is one of the key charter pushers and key reformers. Great person to head an “independent” study on charter effectiveness, eh? Here is my favorite section from Darcie’s post but please read the whole thing for a clearer more disturbing picture.

2005 Chartering 2.0 Leadership Summit

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools website still has a report posted about the event.

Last summer, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools gathered some of the nation’s leading charter school advocates and other education experts to plan for the next generation of charter schooling.

The event, “CHARTERING 2.0,” was inspiring and thought-provoking and provided valuable guidance on how to improve charter quality as the movement grows to scale.

This next excerpt is Raymond’s points to her charter school audience on how to wage their coming “war” against traditional schools, back in 2006. Is there any doubt she is using CREDO to wage the PR part of the campaign of attrition and battle plan she is describing?

I have three points.  First, change is the last thing districts will do.  Second, there are predictable indicators of where districts are on the change curve.
Third, the charter movement isn’t yet making a strong case for competitive response from districts. 

I study the emergence of markets in industries dominated by monopolies. Certain lessons can be learned from these instances that can be applied to the charter world.  Monopolies have enormous power and do not change happily or easily; they can expend resources to avoid change.  When threatened, they launch a series of wars.  First is the war of entry: prohibiting new entrants into the market.  They try to set high barriers through law and regulation.  In general, the monopolist is dismissive of potential entrants. 

The second war is of survival—they launch games of irritation.  These include delaying tactics, non-responsiveness, and nonpayment.  They try to limit the discretion of the new entrants.  The public relations strategy is to smear the new opponents, often personally. 

Third is the war of containment.  They will heap on as many costs as possible to wear you down, such as more reporting requirements and cost studies. The public relations battle becomes more aggressive and organized. 

Fourth is the war of elimination; the biggest indicator is the legal challenge. The opposition forms into coalitions designed to destroy the new entrants. 

After all of these wars, you will see change.  But you have to survive first.

A final point: if chartering is to win the political and policy battle, it must demonstrate that it can either produce much better results or much greater efficiency (same results with lower costs).  Charter schools haven’t done either yet.

This last CREDO critique describes how CREDO is advocating a policy that benefits it largest clients, by encouraging large charter chains to replace all public schools, and shutting out smaller, unproven, (and no doubt less generous to CREDO) charter operators. This is the endgame, the plot revealed. Today’s “reform” has never been about providing quality education to children, not about innovation, it’s about profitability and wrestling a public good, the public education system, into the coffers of the larger wealthier charter chains. It’s about holding children and taxpayers upside down and shaking every last penny out of their pockets.

This report’s findings challenge the conventional wisdom that a young underperforming school will improve if given time. Our research shows that if you start wobbly, chances are you’ll stay wobbly,” said Dr. Margaret Raymond, CREDO’s director and the study’s lead author. “Similarly, if a school is successful in producing strong academic progress from the start, our analysis shows it will remain a strong and successful school.” 

“We have solid evidence that high quality is possible from the outset,” Dr. Raymond said. “Since the study also shows that the majority of charter management organizations produce consistent quality through their portfolios – regardless of the actual level of quality – policy makers will want to assure that charter schools that replicate have proven models of success.”   

CREDO is the Benedict Arnold of researchers, a traitorous abomination that is waging this secret war on our school systems and students to enrich itself, its donors and its clientele. Now CREDO has even turned on its own, newer charter operators, to solidify a new status quo of corruption and profiteering over even the ephemeral promise of innovation charters once were thought to offer as their primary selling point. In the end, all that we will have accomplished is socializing the loss of our nation’s children, while privatizing the profit of our education centers in the hands of a few.

Who said our politicians learned nothing from the banking crisis? They learned to replicate it, with CREDO leading the way. Well done, CREDO.

I encourage all of my blogger brethren to out this imposter with their own analyses, or to consider leaving their previous CREDO critiques as a comment to reference.

Thank you


4 thoughts on “Please Join My Anti-CREDO Crusade

  1. It took me a bit to realize when I read your first blog mentioning CREDO that you were not talking about CREDO the progressive cell phone company that also lobbies progressive national issues. The CREDO that you are talking about is the direct opposite of the progressive CREDO.

    I am a former Louisianian who now lives in a blue state in Yankee Land – Rhode Island. Reading about what is happening in my state makes me sick.

  2. What is really interesting is it was CREDO @ Hoover that released a study a couple of years ago that was quite comprehensive and demonstrated that only 17% of charter schools outperformed their local public school, 37% performed worse, and the remainder were no different. This raised quite the stink among charter advocates. The have since released another study that shows some limited improvement with charters. Since Hoover itself is infamous for releasing op-eds under the guise of being “studies,” I have been curious as to what CREDO was up to with these studies and just what the response was from their ultra-conservative backers.

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