At a time of deep budget cuts, it is time to cut the Recovery School District (RSD)

Latest John White lie

Bobby Jindal recently released his budget for the 2015 fiscal year.  This budget has some pretty steep cuts for the Louisiana Department of Education.

State Superintendent John White recently claimed Bobby Jindal’s 2015 budget would force him to lay off as many as 100 of his 300 workers.

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposed budget would force layoffs of about 100 of the state Department of Education’s roughly 300 workers, state Superintendent of Education John White said Monday morning.

White said he was originally told that the governor’s budget plan could result in 45 agency employees losing their jobs.

Of course this a statement from a John White, a well documented liar, and an article from Will Sentell, who is rumored to be White’s pal outside of working hours, so it doesn’t surprise me that these figures are dishonest and not fact checked – not even a little.

Fortunately I had recently asked for the lists of LDOE and Recovery School District (RSD) employees. RSD is a branch of LDOE and directly overseen by LDOE. The true number of employees I came up with was 447 “DOE State Activities” employees, 117 Special School District Employees, and 108 RSD employees. That comes to 675 employees scattered across several divisions that report to John White, or more than twice the number White quoted to the Advocate – and Will Sentell dutifully reported.

From payroll file 1/23/2015


But what is one more lie?

LDOE employees with multiple offices

RSD no longer directly manages any schools, it just recruits them and “oversees” them. (New Schools for New Orleans is a non-profit that already does that.)  RSD’s employees are actually extensions of the LDOE. Many LDOE employees live in New Orleans and have offices in Baton Rouge and luxury offices in New Orleans. Many of LDOE’s executive employees live in New Orleans and do all their work from the RSD offices across from the Superdome, or from the privacy of their homes – as their exorbitant conference call bills will attest to.

Sources have relayed that a non-exhaustive list of employees operating this way are:

  • · Katherine Westerhold
  • · Hannah Dietsch
  • · Alicja Witkowski
  • · Taina Knox
  • · Rebecca Kockler
  • · Kunjan Narechania

The truth behind LDOE state employee RIF’s (Reductions In Force)

Everyone knows that John White and Bobby Jindal have claimed they have cut back employees in state service, so I decided to verify that claim myself. I asked Civil Service for the payroll of LDOE as of 1/1/2012 and 1/31/2015. A direct comparison would lead one to believe that John White had reduced his employees. John White filed dozens of RIFs, or Reeducations In Force, during his tenure.  However what you can’t tell from these files is that John White simply reclassified all of his IT positions as belonging to DOA instead of LDOE. Many of these folks still work at the Claiborne building where LDOE is housed in their same roles, they just are paid from the DOA budget although they still work for John White and LDOE on LDOE systems.

I asked for listing of these employees, but Civil Service has no way of identifying them. Therefore I excluded all the people from the IT area from my 12/31/2011 file so we could have an apples to apples comparison.  These are the numbers I came up with as of 12/31/2011 excluding IT.


However this was when RSD actually staffed schools with teachers!  Now almost all the RSD employees are unclassified operatives of John White.  Many freely move back and forth between these agencies at will as I will show you later.

What this means is employees John White controls for day to day operations is down to 675 from around 697 – excluding IT and RSD employees.  RSD actually had to run schools three years ago and most of those employees were teachers. Now RSD skims money from grants these schools receive and skims MFP funds to support their lavish lifestyle  – as I will also get into later.

Next I wanted to find out what types of employees are left and how the workforce changed. Instead of support personnel for things like Special Education, most of LDOE was turned into a charter school recruiting office and assessment section. At first blush it would appear the number of unclassified positions decreased, however when you add in RSD unclassified positions you can see a dramatic increase in this type of unrestricted worker.  Below are some distinctions between classified and unclassified employees.  Please refer to this definition from Civil Service.  I have summarized some of the differences below:

Unclassified state employees have no restrictions on salary or raises, can lobby legislators and donate to candidates, do not have need to have any specific qualifications, and are generally supposed to be restricted to just the heads of departments.

Classified state employees cannot engage in any political activity, or even the appearance of political activity. They cannot donate or endorse candidates and cannot even discuss these topics publicly without suffering sanctions or being fired. Raises for classified workers are tightly controlled and limited. Classified positions have specific sets of duties, education requirements, and experience requirements they must meet to qualify for positions.  Classified workers cannot be promoted if they do not meet the requirements of their new position. The vast majority of state workers used to be considered “classified.”

Below are the basic positions defined in Civil Service that are supposed to be classified as unclassified.

  1. Elected officials and person appointed to fill vacancies in elective offices.
  2. The head of each principal executive department appointed by the Governor.
  3. Registrars of voters.
  4. Members of State boards, authorities, and commissions.
  5. One private Secretary to the president of each college or university.
  6. One person holding a confidential position and one principal assistant or deputy to any officer, board, commission or authority mentioned in (1), (2), (3), or (4), above, except the State Department of Civil Service.
  7. Members of the military or naval forces; including those employees in the Military Department of the State of Louisiana who are members of the Louisiana National Guard or Louisiana State Guard, either active or retired.
  8. The teaching and professional staffs, and administrative officers of schools, colleges, and universities of the State, and bona fide students of those institutions employed by any State agency.
  9. Employees, deputies, and officers of the legislature and of the offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General; and of police juries, school boards, and assessors; and of all offices provided for in Constitutional Article V.
  10. Commissioners of elections, watchers, and custodians and deputy custodians of voting machines.
  11. Railroad employees whose working conditions and retirement benefits are regulated by federal agencies in accordance with federal law.
  12. Notaries Public.
  13. All employees of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

Obviously unclassified employees are supposed to be restricted in number and held to a pretty high standard.  Unclassified positions are supposed to be rare.  The vast majority of state employees in Civil Service are supposed to be “classified” to prevent a return to the “spoils” system of governance in Louisiana; when most of the positions in state government we doled out based on who folks supported in elections.  A classified state worker is loyal to the state, not a specific political party, candidate, or appointee.  From information I’ve been given, John White reportedly did not like that arrangement and exploited Civil Service rules to simply drive off hundreds of classified state workers loyal to Louisiana and replace them with unclassified employees (mostly from out of state) loyal to him.

Of 108 positions at RSD today, 107 are unclassified.

What possible harm can come from converting our workforce from classified to unclassified?  (Hint: New taxes!)

In case you were wondering how this arrangement works out in the real world consider this.  RSD and its staff, in conjunction with the charter lobby, successfully PR’d the public in New Orleans last year to pass a tax that contributes 90% of the proceeds to RSD until 2025 (in additional to their state and federal funding and fees they charge charters.)

Shall the Orleans Parish School board (the “School Board”) levy a tax of four and ninety-seven hundredths mills on the dollar of the assessed valuation of property within the City of New Orleans assessed for City Taxation, (an estimated $15,540,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year), for a period of ten (10) years, beginning in 2015, for the purpose of preservation, improvement and capital repairs of all existing public school facilities, to be levied and collected in the same manner as is set forth in Article VIII, Section 13(C)(Second) of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974; provided that said tax is to be levied each calendar year at a millage rate not in excess of the difference between 4.97 mills and any millage levied in such calendar year for any outstanding general obligation bonds of the School Board?”

How will property taxes be extended and/or redirected to fund RSD?
OPSB is expected to pay off school facility debt by 2021 using 4.97 mills of property tax previously approved by voters. The tax is expected to end in 2021, and the amount collected from voters will begin to decrease as the debt service decreases. If voters approve the proposition, the mills will be renewed and extended through 2025. The difference that is not applied to the debt service will be set aside for facility preservation, and RSD can begin to access the funds as early as 2016. The mills currently collect approximately $15.5 million each year. (Source: OPSB FAQ on Tax Proposition. )

In full effect and after OPSB has fulfilled its debt obligations, the non-elected RSD would receive 90% of the funding ($13,986,000) of property tax revenue. OPSB would receive the remaining portion of approximately $1,554,000.

What does RSD do with all their money?

What does RSD do with all its money you ask?  Well for one thing, they like to rent luxury office space in downtown New Orleans across from the Superdome.

RSD takes up the entire 14th floor at 1615 Poydras street. Here is the floor plan of the suite right above them


Here are some of the images of the building and the amenities:

Encompassing 508,741 rentable square feet, the Class A Property is 85% leased and serves as the corporate headquarters for McMoRan Oil & Gas.


The property’s rent rolls are dominated by high profile, local, national and international corporations including Freeport-McMoRan, ANKOR Energy, U.S. Coast Guard, Gillis Ellis & Baker, Kuchler Polk Schell Weiner & Richeson, Usry Weeks & Matthews, Duplantier Hrapmann Hogan & Maher, First NBC Bank and Regus.


1615 Poydras accommodates an on-site restaurant, a barbershop and dry cleaning pick-up & delivery services.  Our location in the Central Business District (CBD) directly across from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, provides easy access to City Hall, hotels, Canal Street shopping and the historic French Quarter.  Tenants enjoy easy walking distance to the NFL Saints Champion Square and the world-class Mercedes-Benz Superdome directly across the street.


Man, who wouldn’t want a drycleaners with pickup and delivery service and a barbershop in their office building?

Check out the gorgeous marble and mahogany floors and enormous meeting rooms overlooking the city.

Who knew being a state worker could be such a sweet deal, especially amidst a 1.6 billion dollar deficit?

But maybe there was a logistical reason for locating so close to the superdome in a luxury office building?

RSD claims this move makes them more accessible to families and parents.

Recovery School District

The Recovery School District is a special district of the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) charged with transforming chronically underperforming schools in Louisiana. The organization’s mission is to ensure that all students graduate high school on-time and be college and career ready.  Their move to 1615 Poydras provides a more centrally-located site in the Central Business District – closer to business and community partners [true] and more accessible for families and parents [not true].  Recovery School District also maintains three Parent Centers at various locations throughout the city.

But let’s be honest. This is move to put them closer to the Saints, not students. Right across the street in fact!  RSD used to be located in a warehouse before John White came to town, where many of the parents actually lived.

Let’s compare.

RSD Pre-John White at 1641 Poland Avenue.  Note the graffiti on neighboring buildings and less than august surroundings. . . but I bet the rent wasn’t too steep.


RSD – Post John White at 1616 Poydras street on the 14th floor across from the Mercedes Superdome.  Who knew School Reforming could be so good?


So what if RSD is ripping us off. . . at least I get choices!?!?

Now when parents have problems they can’t actually reach anyone at RSD. RSD makes thousands of parents with enrollment problems line up all day in the hot sun every year while they try to fix the choices the One AP enrollment system selected for them.


Last year some parents waited in line all day only to be turned away and told to come back tomorrow.


RSD Choice. We choose for you.

In my district, East Baton Rouge Parish, I actually have choices and can apply to numerous schools and programs.  I can choose to send my kids from among the schools I get into. In public schools I have the choice to send my kids to a Montessori program, magnet school, language immersion school, Arts integrated or Math Sciences and Arts school, a trade focused school, a charter school or just send my kids to the school down the street. I can apply to all of those choices and select the one I want based on the ones I can get approved for. In New Orleans you put your top 3 choices in, and maybe the computer selects one for you. If you don’t like the selection, or the selection scatters your kids all across town, you and thousands of other parents must queue in line all day to try and find a new school for your kids to attend.

That type of “choice” is more like Communism, than Capitalism folks. You know, where the state assigns you to a school and you line up for days to make simple changes to anything (and that’s on a good day.)

The free enterprise system charter supporters often tout as the cure-all for the ails of the public education system can’t work because bad or undesirable charters can stay in business when the few desirable schools run out of spots.

RSD and New Schools for New Orleans claim that RSD and the New Orleans Experiment has solved the problem of kids being limited by their Zip code. In actuality, they have just made it worse.

These groups claim to provide choice, but the choice belongs to RSD, to the state, not to the parents.

This is the future that awaits us as this “public/private” partnership proceeds.

Wow. Can RSD do anything right?  Uh. . .

But that’s not the only form of waste at RSD.

RSD’s 100+ strong workforce loses more property and equipment each year than the rest of the state put together.  About a million dollars a year at last tally. Here is a statement from the legislative auditor:

Statement: The Recovery School District reported more than 28 percent of its movable property missing in its 2014 inventory. Because of the large volume of missing inventory, [the Louisiana Property Assistance Agency] disapproved the agency’s property certification and completed an internal investigation on the losses. We have since reported our findings on the issue to the Attorney General and Legislative Auditor for further review

The full report is here:$FILE/RSD%202014%20Release.pdf

You can also see how RSD’s losses compare to the rest of the state in Lee Zurik’s report:

RSD and LDOE employees switch jobs fluidly because they are really the same agency now.

To see this in action let’s look at the curious case of Kunjan Narechania, who came to Louisiana and RSD with John White as his chief of staff. Then she went with John White to LDOE, and now is back at RSD but is paid from LDOE’s budget.

From payroll file as of 1/23/15


From article as of 2/2/15.

Recovery chief of staff Kunjan Narechania said the department has held off on finalizing the Dunbar agreement pending the John Mac and Livingston decisions; if Believe moves into John Mac, it would be moot. She added that the Recovery system does not typically have written agreements with charter programs about which buildings they will get, though “the process has been fairly inconsistent.”

Gotta’ love that freedom.

As you can see, RSD and LDOE employees are fluid and all report to John White.  They certainly don’t oversee any schools, and I sure hope they aren’t trying very hard to look after property that is disappearing at a burn rate of a million dollars per year.  So do we really need them to recruit charter schools in a 100% charter district?

Is RSD the future we want for Louisiana: a giant, unaccountable, exceptionally wasteful, state level agency who’s employees can lobby and donate to local and state officials for increases to its budget and power and which oversees all the schools in the state – instead of local school boards?

Is there a conclusion in here somewhere?

It is clear that RSD is not working. . . for parents or students. At a time of great financial crisis in our state, RSD is providing multiple luxury offices to its staff members so they don’t have the inconvenience of driving into Baton Rouge – where they really are supposed to work.

Louisiana is facing a 1.6 billion dollar shortfall this year, while some state DOE employees are assigned multiple offices (luxury offices).  Based on my calculations, Bobby Jindal is probably right to recommend 100 employees be reduced at the department of education. John White has actually maintained his staffing level at LDOE via RSD over the last 3 years (while increasing his overall payroll by eliminating classified positions and replacing them with unclassified positions.) The payroll at RSD alone is 1/4th of the entire payroll at LDOE for 1/5th of the employees. Many of John White’s employees swap back and forth for budgeting reasons but, they all ultimately report to White.

RSD is the past, and it needs to be left in the past, and now is the time to do it.

John White claims he needs to start discussions and meetings to determine where to make layoffs. I actually have 108 employees to recommend eliminating right now (or maybe 109 depending on where Kunjan actually works).  It’s time to eliminate the RSD.

That is a real choice that would be good for just about everybody.

The Fallacies of Quick Fixes in School Reform . . . and Life

The Fallacies of Quick Fixes in School Reform . . . and Life

Recently I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. I knew my blood sugars were trending higher for years, and I had resolved to lose 50 pounds this year to prevent this outcome from occurring. 3 months into this year I had lost 25 pounds . . . and I learned I had uncontrolled fasting blood sugars in the 400s. 3 months ago I had my blood sugar levels checked and they were creeping up into the pre-diabetic range, but I was fine. I had a lot of warning signs that something was wrong, including blurring vision I attributed to getting old, a dramatic increase in being thirsty I attributed to giving up sodas and exercising more, and a dramatic increase in confusion and forgetfulness I chalked up to just being busy. If readers recall, I travelled to Austin in March but managed to leave my suitcase with all my belongings at home in my front yard. I also was supposed to appear on Frances and Friends a few weeks later but lost my phone, directions and mind. I’ve also managed to forget my daughter’s soccer ball and every practice I took her too, although thankfully I usually remember the kids. I’ve also been having trouble sitting down and composing blog entries and night from fatigue and an inability to focus. (To, those of you who have submitted information to me to create stories or research, I am moving slower but still making progress now.) Now that I am getting a handle on my condition things are starting to firm up and my confusion seems more obvious now in retrospect. I’ve been running labs, seeing doctors, dietitians and specialists and what seems to be the consensus is that taking steroid shots back to back to address my Pneumonia and Bronchitis in February and March overwhelmed my pancreas and triggered my condition. I went from just entering the warning zone to a serious case of uncontrolled diabetes over a few months. Fortunately, I was working with my doctor while I was trying to lose so much weight and get in shape and we caught it right away.  If  my condition had remained untreated until an annual physical I would have ended up in the hospital, if I was lucky.

So where am I going with this do you ask?

I did what many of us probably do without thinking. I went to the after-hours clinic, told them I was sick and needed to get well fast, and asked them to load me up with shots and whatever they could give me to get me back on my feet as fast as possible.  “I don’t have time to be sick,” I told them.  Getting an appointment with my primary care physician is always harder, but he has all my medical history and is more qualified, has more experience, and is more familiar with my case history and medications. I was trying to save up as much time as I can to go to meetings, to get blog posts done, to meet with parents, to attend and present at conferences and to still have time for my job and my family so I couldn’t afford to take time for more mundane matters like a common cold. Without considering the consequences, I chose the easiest path. As a result I made myself much sicker with what might be a permanently debilitating condition. (I do have a slim chance of reversing it if I take extra special care of myself over the next 6 months and lose some more weight. Things I should have done before so I would not have been put in the position I am now.) I did not know that getting steroid shots and oral steroids could trigger diabetes and I thought I was being proactive and taking care of myself.  As I’ve learned since, those treatments dramatically raise blood sugars and for those of us in Louisiana already a little overweight, this can rapidly accelerate a process that would normally take years. I’m writing this in part to warn folks about steroids and diabetes. Sometimes steroids may be necessary, when you have Pneumonia like I did for the first round, but maybe not if you just have a cold or Bronchitis and you’ve recently received them. It’s great that you want to do something quickly, but quick or unresearched actions can cause much more harm than good.

In case you were wondering, this is where the School Reform critique comes in. A lot of times we try to apply quick fixes that are nothing more than ineffective Band-Aids to our problems in our daily lives and in public policy.

That’ll fix it!

This type of fix gives us the satisfaction of saying we’ve quickly addressed a problem and a visible verification of the fix. However simple Band-Aids may not be ideal solutions for brown recluse spider bites, or structurally damaged vehicles in previous picture. The Band-Aid solution does not make the car pictured safer, doesn’t permit the doors to open, and applying that Band-Aid means the passenger side window has to remain open. . . but we can say we fixed it!  It didn’t cost us as much a door replacement, paint job and body repair, but it was quick and required little effort or long-term commitment on our part.

This is the way much of modern-day school reform works in the US.

Allow me to show you some examples.

Charter Schools

Charter schools were first marketed as a way to provide quality educations, to help underserved populations like the disabled or Limited English Proficient, and to differentiate emphasis on instruction (say charter schools for Engineering, Math, the Arts or Foreign Language immersion.) When it was discovered that these schools often performed worse, failed to provide certified teachers or staff for special education students, and that serving high needs populations was expensive and reflected poorly on charter school’s rankings compared to schools with average populations many charter schools opted instead to appeal to the wealthiest and least cumbersome students. What started as an easy fix, if the local school system is not working, slap a charter school or three on it, turned into a serious threat, a disease on public education. Charter school mania is a disease that now threatens to devour the host.

Larvae devouring host caterpillar

What started out as a quick fix to apply to ailing public education systems to provide a quality education for some of the students is actually making education worse for most of them by siphoning off financial resources, teachers, and students and leaving the hardest to educate students behind.

[I urge you all to support HB 703 currently pending a vote in the House Education committee. This bill restricts the spread of charter schools into A, B and C districts, like has recently happened to Iberville and Lafayette, by requiring these schools get approval of the local school boards. If you believe in local education, I urge you to contact the members of the House Education committee to support this Bill.]

Common Core

  • Colleges are claiming they face a problem of too many children requiring remediation.
  • Businesses are claiming High School graduates are not career ready when they graduate.
  • Testing and textbook companies are complaining about all the different version of textbooks and tests they have to prepare every year.

To them, the obvious solution was to create a universal standardized curriculum that everyone would have to take and pass to graduate. This, simple enough seeming solution, created many problems.

Not all education is testable. You cannot test the arts with bubbles. You cannot test a student’s drive or thirst for additional learning. You cannot test a child’s creativity (which Common Core stifles) on a standardized test.  These aspects of education are whittled away to nothing under Common Core. This will create a generation of education hating test bubble makers, not the creative class that is responsible for our place as the greatest inventors and artists with the greatest per capita renewable economy on the planet.

The Common Core curriculum that was created is not rigorous, just tedious. Tedium does not equate to rigor except of the “mortis” variety. Advanced Math and Calculus was not included in Common Core. Students will not be STEM ready without that exposure. Colleges will have to provide that instruction and remediation, just as they have been. However fewer students will want to pursue those types of careers because of how obnoxious the math has become.

Companies will not have more employees ready to complete upon graduation. This curriculum was never tested, it is being piloted on a massive scale without any supporting research that it works. Early indications are that Common Core math is producing lower test scores in all states that adopted compared to those state’s previous math scores, and compared to other states that did not implement the Common Core math.  Common Core does not work and will and will make our children worse off.

Now there is so much chaos as a result of pushing Common Core, sight unseen and untested, that states are having problems pulling out of it. Students and parents are getting frustrated and pulling their kids out of school to homeschool them, or enrolling them in non-public schools that have rejected Common Core. Experienced teachers are fleeing the profession in record numbers, and newer teachers are leaving in droves as well. The rushed and unresearched manner is which a universal curriculum was pushed upon the Nation through trickery, bribery and deception is ruining public education for millions of children and families.

 Closing “Failing” Schools

One of the favorite tactics of school reformers is closing the schools they have defined as “failing”.  Whether the school is actually “failing” the students is beside the point.  All a school has to do to be defined as failing is have a concentration of poor students, students with disabilities or English Language learners.  Schools are not judged based on whether they serve children well, simply based on demographics.  To become a successful school all one needs to do is attract wealthier students and dissuade poorer students from enrolling as was the disabled or students from recently emigrated families.  Reformers trot out the occasional High performing High poverty school to “show” us that poverty doesn’t matter, but when you look at these cases a little closer you find numerous mitigating factors including dramatically increased funding, a poorly defined “poverty” measure, cheating or high concentration of wraparound services and highly qualified teachers that reformers claim are unnecessary.  The believe simply moving these children to “successful” school will magically make them become overachievers, and negate the impacts of poverty, abuse, neglect and apathy. This is not true.  All this does is mask the problem while the schools poor children are evicted from are turned over to privatizers who often perform worse than the schools they replace and are successively shut down and rebranded year after year to disguise the massive, systemic failures of the charter movement.

Rather than recognizing how often charters fail, States like Louisiana point to the numerous closures and claim success!  This is the free market in action, and we are holding these schools “accountable”.  Meanwhile no one seems to actually care what happens to the children and communities.  They take and claim for granted that these children have been “helped” by this displacement, but they are careful not to track them or allow anyone to report on their outcomes.

They know the truth, and they fear it.

Poverty matters

It is true that poverty can be overcome.  It’s not the sole determinate in whether a student is successful, but it is a major component and not one that can be overcome by simply opening up Rocketship Academies staffed with teachers trained for 5 weeks and implementing Common Core. Overcoming the reductive impacts of poverty on educational outcomes requires hard work, money, determination and a significant time commitment.  This is not something most education reformers want you to hear.  They want to inject the education system with magic steroid shots in the form of High Stakes Testing, VAM teacher evaluations, charter schools, virtual schools, Common Core, and a parade of poorly trained fresh-faced can do chanting recruits from TFA and the New Teacher Project.  They want to reduce funding to students and channel it educational entrepreneurs and data harvesters who will claim to have the latest and greatest data potions to improve educational outcomes without the hard work such endeavours have traditionally taken in the past.

Reformers want to be in charge.  They want to “believe” that their reforms will improve the outcomes of children, while they make a tidy profit on the side.  Louisiana’s John White is a typical reformer.  He is so invested in this philosophy that he even renamed the official Louisiana Department of Education website “Louisiana Believes”.  He has formed Louisiana Believes committees and recruits to support his message and preach his gospel of reform.  What he has also done is prevent anyone impartial form getting access to any data that unequivocally disproves his “beliefs”.  John White “believes” his reforms are working, or at least that is what he is trying to brainwash the state of Louisiana and the nation into believing.

The reality is much different.

If John White had any faith in his beliefs he wouldn’t need to hide his data, and contract with shill organizations like CREDO, Stand For Children, and the Cowen institute to produce poorly research propaganda to support his “beliefs”.

If reforms were working they could show us the proof and that would shut people like me up once and for all.

The truth is, there are no quick fixes for what ails Education and our society.

We are the wealthiest Nation on earth and yet have perhaps the largest income and wealth gap as well. Reformers have correctly identified that this poverty is impacting our children, and our nation’s competitiveness.  This poverty does pose a threat to our global position as a world leader and a lack of a proper education does impact future earnings for children as they become adults and makes it more likely these children and their families will end up on public assistance or perhaps incarcerated.  Those negative outcomes have a significant cost to our society and changing those to positive outcomes could result in a substantial net benefit.  The answer is not reducing our educational funding, closing schools with at-risk students, forcing children and teachers to Race To The Top or be the Children Left Behind.  The answer is not a quick shot in the butt, or crossing our fingers and “hoping” Common Core works (in a generation).

The answer is the same as it has always been. Hard work.  Focus.  Determination. Dedication.  Adequate Funding.  Squarely addressing our problems, not hiding from them or disguising them or saying “Screw it, if I can’t fix it at least we can make some money off this problem” as I see many of the latest education entrants doing.   Our public education system was not perfect, but now it is sick with all the quick-fix reform “treatments” we’ve heaped upon it.  We can reverse this illness before it becomes fatal.  But to do so, it will require we abandon the harmful quick-fix approaches and buckle down for some slow-going old-fashioned hard work.

I ask that you help me do this.

I will do the same.

Let’s check back in six months and see where we are.

The RSD and New Orleans miracle (of cheating)

The RSD and New Orleans miracle (of cheating)

Some of you may have read by my recent expose on the issues facing Mary D. Coghill elementary school (an RSD school which was turned into a Park View charter school this year without any internal records or discussion of why this was done.)

I asked why this was done, and some basic info about what the accountability plans were for Mary D. Coghill as part of my investigation, but was told no such discussion or record existed. I was told no sitecode existed for this new site. (or at least this site was never discussed in e-mail or interoffice mail or memorandum.) I can assume LDOE is telling me the truth (or lying and violating state law. )

Incidentally when I re-read my notes I realized I had the number of students pulled out incorrect. It was not 70, but 90 students pulled out for special reading aloud accommodations or 26% of all students taking tests.

(I will amend my previous post with this correction.)

But while I think this is likely a serious and intentional abuse of testing accommodations that took place over multiple years for the purpose of improving RSD test scores, if this was the only case I can understand why you might think my recommendation, to have all reports of cheating investigated by an external auditor, overkill. However this is not the only case of reported cheating or abuse of testing accommodations or policies. This is but the tip of a very large iceberg, and we have no idea how much is lurking below the surface. We have evidence of at least 38 schools involved in testing irregularities or outright cheating in New Orleans (most in RSD.) How many more cases exist that we have not found out about, or which were completely concealed from any public inquiry or record? How many have not been reported by teachers for fear of being fired as coach Frank was when he tried to the right thing?

In addition to Mary D. Coghill, I believe there is a serious case to be made for cheating taking place at John Mcdonogh High School under RSD’s direction before it was turned over to a charter school with Future is Now Schools under Steve Barr. A former accountability source detailed the reason I believe John McDongh’s scores were being influenced by RSD cheating. . .

Actually, a sharp drop in school performance is a common flag that indicates a “cheater” has been replaced, or monitored to prevent cheating The perfect example of this was in West Baton Rouge Parish. A former superintendent whose wife ran the IT department had all kids who dropped out at Brusly High School transfer to Port Allen High and be recorded as Port Allen dropouts. After the couple ‘moved on,’ Port Allen High’s results shot up, while Brusly’s dropped. The current IT director (Tammy Seneca) can confirm this.

Prior to the handover of John Mac to a private charter organization, the school posted less than stellar School Performance Scores (SPS). But the latest score, a 9.3 out of 150 is absurd and represents a 78% drop in a single year. To get back to where they were before the handover from RSD, John Mac would have to improve their score more than 400%.

Operator Year SPS Score out of 150















So with Mary D. Cogwell we have a reported case of cheating that involved a teacher coming forward, subsequently being fired under suspicious circumstances, no investigation taking place, a whistleblower lawsuit being filed, and the secretive closure of the RSD school.

We have another RSD school, John Mcdonogh, posting steady gains from 2008 through 2011, when it was handed over to a charter operator who discovered what may be the true performance of RSD schools, a 9.3 out of 150.

We have three charter schools that RSD oversees with reported cheating. They have allowed the school boards to investigate themselves and decide that no cheating has occurred. These schools are

Lafayette Academy:

Lafayette Academy, which is governed by the Choice Foundation, has received acclaim in recent years for its high academic performance. At the end of its first year in 2007, its school performance score was a failing score of 38.6 out of 200. That jumped by 20 points in 2008, another 5 points the next year, and at least 10 points each year after that. Its 2012 score is a 93.4, a C under the state’s letter grade system.

The scope of the cheating investigation remains unclear. Jim Huger, president of the Choice Foundation board, would only say that the board concluded that no wrongdoing occurred. The board hired a private attorney, local media lawyer Loretta Mince, to look into the claims. She referred questions to Huger.

“This is a matter that is very murky, and very sort of a ‘he-said, she-said,’ and we investigated it,” Huger said Monday. “Cheating is a very ugly word.”

Miller-McCoy Academy:

This is the third time in recent years that such allegations have surfaced at a New Orleans charter school. In 2010, teachers at Miller-McCoy Academy reported to the Recovery School District, which oversees the school, that someone had opened the state’s standardized test in advance to give test-takers extra prep on the questions.

RSD intervened, conducting its own investigation – in addition to the school’s board – that ultimately concluded that some kind of cheating did occur.

The Miller-McCoy board investigation, however, found no evidence of cheating. School officials refused to void their scores but required teachers to undergo training on proper administration of tests.

Robert Moton Charter Elementary

In August [2012], an Orleans Parish School Board investigation found evidence of cheating at Robert Moton Charter Elementary School. Moton’s board, like Lafayette and McCoy’s, concluded otherwise.

Moton was required to present preventative measures against cheating to the Orleans Parish School Board, which oversees Moton. The faculty member accused of the cheating no longer works at the school.

So now we are up to 5 schools, but the cheating doesn’t stop there. According to investigations conducted by the Lens reporter Jessica Williams, and records reported by the Louisiana Department of Education, as many as 33 additional schools have been involved in cheating or testing irregularities in the past 3 years without serious repercussions or reports to the general media.

In three recent years, 33 New Orleans public schools have been flagged for problems and possible cheating on standardized tests, including an excessive number of changed answers, plagiarism and improper test proctoring, according to records provided by the Louisiana Department of Education.

To my counting that brings the cases of reported or suspected cheating up to 38 schools.

12 of these 33 schools have repeat problems, and most of them are RSD schools.

Over the three-year period, 12 schools had repeated problems. Most of them are RSD schools:

Dwight Eisenhower Academy of Global Studies, an RSD charter

Dr. King Charter School, an RSD charter

Edna Karr High School, an OPSB charter

Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School of Literature and Technology, an OPSB direct-run school

Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary, an RSD direct-run school

O. Perry Walker College and Career Preparatory High School and Community Center, an RSD charter

Thurgood Marshall Early College High School, an RSD charter

F.W. Gregory Elementary School, an RSD direct-run school

International School of Louisiana, a BESE charter

George Washington Carver Senior High School, an RSD direct-run school

Langston Hughes Academy, an RSD charter

John Dibert Community School, an RSD charter

This is the same RSD that Reformers like Leslie Jacobs have been touting as models that should be replicated in other struggling school districts.

This is despite the fact the state did not check for a high rate of changed answers in 2009 and 2010 because of “budget reasons.”

There were problems at about 22 percent of the city’s schools in 2011, twice as many as the year before. A likely reason: In 2010, the state didn’t check tests for high rates of changed answers, citing budget cuts.

The state didn’t check for high rates of changed answers in 2009 for the same reason, department officials told The Lens.

How many more “irregualarities might be have discovered and largely ignored? Hard to say, but despite this lax and irresponsible oversight, and the failure of many of these entities to investigate or report instances of cheating, RSD and reformers want you to believe the New Orleans turnaround model.

RSD and LDOE has only turned over data touting their success of charters and RSD to the charter friendly CREDO institute, a Hoover institute spinoff run by charter champions Margaret Raymond and Eric Hanushek, a husband and wife team and Hoover institute fellows. (Eric has also famously promoted the idea that class size doesn’t matter and that class sizes of 50 or more are appropriate if only a “good” teacher is present.) LDOE have in fact used FERPA to rebuff other researchers from obtaining the same data that might disprove the claims RSD and LDOE makes about their success. Incidentally, did you know these brainiacs compared Ben Franklin and Luscher (charter schools that only accepts kids who meet strong academic standards, against regular RSD schools which must take everyone, and based upon this comparison determined charter marginally better than traditional public schools, represented by RSD? (Special Note: When asked to comment on how and why they did this and how they don’t believe this is a complete misrepresentation, Margaret and her chief researcher, Devora Davis, declined to comment.)

However I digress. The point here, is LDOE and RSD, and charter schools, cannot be trusted to investigate their own cheating. What happens when cheating is reported is those reporting the cheating like Coach Frank are conveniently disappeared, schools are secretly closed and rechartered, and Boards conveniently lose the reports and bury the investigations. While RSD and New Orleans is being used as a model for the Nation, people are not being given a true picture. All they are seeing is the result of cheating that is being hidden, stats that are being massaged and produced by puppet organizations like CREDO, and publicity that is being bought by hedge fund managers that want everyone to jump onboard the charter train so they can rack up.

Education is big business in the United States, and worldwide.

What would you do for 809 billion dollars, annually in the US or several trillion wordwide? Would you fudge a few stats, fund a few friendly researchers to show your product is safe (like tobacco did in the 70s and now charters schools do today), or take out some full page ads in papers? For those who mock folks that try to expose this corruption by calling us conspiracy theorists, wouldn’t you be more surprised if folks weren’t doing this, and much, much, more?

That is why we need proper controls and oversight. We are not just putting our own children, or children from New Orleans, at risk by failing to investigate the fairy tale that is the New Orleans miracle, we are endangering the rest of Louisiana, the US and the world.

So in that context, these recommendations from my previous article are not all that onerous, are they?

  • I recommend that the legislative auditor’s office heretofore investigate all reported instances of cheating and that the legislature encode this into law. (for charters, RSD, vouchers schools and traditional public schools)
  • I encourage a formal investigation into whether federal laws relating to fraud were violated if any federal funds were disbursed as a result of these fraudulently obtained test scores, and reporting the findings to relevant authorities.
  • I recommend an expansion of the whistleblower law for greater protections of teachers reporting cheating.
  • I recommend an audit of all direct run RSD schools and test scores from 2007 to present with particular care paid to accommodations and relevant IEP and IAP paperwork.
  • I recommend tapes be made of tests being read for review.
  • I recommend new guidelines be published for when and which accommodations are appropriate and the accommodations being provided are not solely used for high stakes testing. If these kids are really struggling with a disability, it is much more important that children get these accommodations throughout the year to facilitate their actual learning of the material. It is much more important to the children, and the furtherance of their education, that these accommodations be made while they are learning this material rather than just when they are being tested on it once for a school grade.

If RSD is legit, and not the product of cheating, misrepresented stats, and subterfuge, don’t you think it’s time they proved it, and all the fancy claims they make? They tell us they can fly, but they won’t show us any wind beneath their wings. It’s time to put up or shut up.

I suspect when we look closer, under the full light of day, RSD will not fly for very long. . .

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


CREDO is not credible, and never has been

Recently the CREDO institute based in Stanford has published national and state by state comparisons of charter schools that indicated charter schools may perform slightly better than traditional public schools in certain circumstances. Despite the lukewarm conclusions, privatizers and education reform advocates immediately touted these findings as proof positive that their draconian agenda was working. Following closely upon the national release was a local release evaluating charter schools in the New Orleans area. After Katrina, most of the city of New Orleans’ schools were turned into charter schools of one flavor or another. Anecdotal success stories have abounded in the wake of this charter subversion an invasion, and the New Orleans model/miracle has been touted far and wide as cure-all that should be adopted by anyone wishing to remake their education system to one that can ignore the systemic and generation impacts of poverty and instead focus pure “education choices.” Despite substantial evidence to the contrary, “school choice” has erroneously become synonymous with “school quality” and advocated as the elixir that has made dramatic improvement in New Orleans possible.

This is where CREDO comes in. Anecdotes make nice stories to tell at workshops, and great fodder for the people sections of newspapers, but Reformers were realizing they needed their own “evidence based research” reports to tout the miraculous claims they were making to lawmakers, legislators and civic organizations not already sold on the privatization movement and the dubious narrative that schools and student performance as declining (especially compared to international standards) and that “bad” teachers, uncaring teachers unions and inflexible traditional education venues were responsible for this decline.

CREDO received its first set of data from Louisiana January of 2012. I was responsible for helping pull all their data together, but I left the Louisiana Department of Education shortly after this data was sent to them. When I left, I took a lot of institutional knowledge with me – specifically much knowledge about flaws in this data, what this data contains, and what it doesn’t, and some of the limitations of using this data to evaluate different aspects of our student populations. I contacted the head of the research team, Devora Davis, not long after leaving DOE to offer my help and insight, but was rebuffed at the time.

Date: Mon, 27 Aug 2012 09:26:04 -0700
Subject: Re: Louisiana Education Data

Hi Jason,

Thank you for reaching out to us. Collaboration isn’t a possibility, since our agreement with the L-DOE does not permit us to share data with other researchers.

Best regards,

Dev Davis
CREDO at Stanford University

I assumed this was because CREDO was simply trying to observe the letter of the MOU they had signed with the LDOE as they claimed (however despite their assertions at the time, I discovered later that there were no exclusions to consulting with outside sources about the dataset.) When I contacted Devora, or “Dev”, as she told me she preferred to be called, this was not a cold call. Dev and I had discussed the possibility of working out a data sharing project for several years, but the logistics and legal framework was not there. Additionally quite a few resources would have to be committed for some time and at no small expense to satisfy their needs. It came as a quite a surprise then that John White, someone who has become notorious for refusing to release any data to anyone (except where there was money or free positive publicity involved) had agreed to such a large, resource intensive project before even officially signed on as the State Superintendent of Education. Nevertheless “Dev” confidently informed us that “arrangements” had been made and “John” was happy to share the state’s data with them as soon as we could get it. Devora called us weekly to see if we’d made any progress and a task force was set up of 5 or 6 folks to work on pulling all the data CREDO wanted from all of our different databases. I was consulted to link the data all together with a random identifier and to make sure the most sensitive FERPA protected elements like name and SSN were removed from the final dataset.

However what is even more interesting is this blurb I found on Devora’s boss, the director at CREDO and the “project director” of this study, is none other than Margaret E. Raymond:

Margaret E. Raymond is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. At Hoover, Raymond serves as director of the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), which analyzes education reform efforts around the country. CREDO’s mission is to improve the quantity and quality of evidence about the impacts of education innovations on student achievement in public K–12 education. Raymond, who has done extensive work in public policy and education reform, is currently researching the development of competitive markets and the creation of reliable data on program performance.

In partnership with the Walton Family Foundation and Pearson Learning Systems, Raymond is leading a national study of the effectiveness of public charter schools. The public-academic-private partnership helps public charter schools adopt information technologies as a means to both support their operations and generate information required by the study design. More than 250 public charter schools have joined the study to date.”

And moreover Mrs. Raymond is married to another more famous (infamous) senior fellow at the Hoover institution:

Eric Alan Hanushek (born, 1943) is a Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. He is an expert on educational policy, and the economics of education. His research spans both the economics of school policy and the impact education on individuals and on economies. Major lines of research have focused on controversial areas of education policy including class size reduction, high stakes accountability, and the importance of teacher quality. He is perhaps best known for the controversial assertion that “money doesn’t matter”—that is, he says that the amount of money spent in an American school district is not related to the amount of student learning in that district—and he is often called to testify in court about school funding schemes

Hanushek is famous for his bizarre claims that class size doesn’t matter and money doesn’t matter in terms of educational gains for children that has made him a favorite of the Walton Family Foundation, individual Waltons, and Pearson Learning systems and Michael Bloomberg who have donated funds (usually the maximum allowable by law) to pro-charter state and local school board candidates and organizations like New Schools for New Orleans.

And if that weren’t enough to question the credibility of CREDO on charter school evaluations there’s also the situation that CREDO runs a charter school leadership institute in conjunction with many major charter school associations.

The PMI was initially developed as part of Building Charter School Quality, a three-year National Leadership Activities Project funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program. Under this grant, CREDO, in partnership with the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, and the Colorado League of Charter Schools, identified and developed best practices in the measurement of student and school performance, the management of performance data, and the use of performance measures to increase school and student accountability. The PMI has attracted more than 100 participants to date, and an interactive online version of the Institute was launched in June 2009.

I think this explains why CREDO was able to convince John White to turn over Louisiana’s complete dataset for a secretly pro-charter school organization to do their best to draft a propaganda piece masquerading as a credible study. CREDO is a complete sham. These are the same folks that promote TFA, John White, elimination of public education, for profit charters, and that poverty is irrelevant to academic performance.

Would you like to see how this played out in this pathetic study? The sad part is with all the gerrymandering of the data, the best they could come up with is a modest endorsement of charter schools with a low confidence of reliability.

Even if concerns over the study’s analytic methods are set side, however, Maul and McClelland point out that the study itself shows only a tiny real impact on the part of charter schools: “less than one hundredth of one percent of the variation in test performance is explainable by charter school enrollment,” they write. Specifically, students in charter schools were estimated to score approximately 0.01 standard deviations higher on reading tests and 0.005 standard deviations lower on math tests than their peers in traditional public schools.

“With a very large sample size, nearly any effect will be statistically significant,” the reviewers conclude, “but in practical terms these effects are so small as to be regarded, without hyperbole, as trivial.”

CREDO came out with a report that said charter schools do better than traditional schools, but the schools they compared to are RSD schools, state run schools, and taken collectively the worst district in Louisiana filled with all the students charter schools rejected, and even so, many of the charters did no better than the worst schools in the state, and many did even worse than the average of the worst district.

CREDO did not disclose that many of the charter schools that did better have selective admissions processes, specifically related to performance and test scores like Benjamin Franklin or socio-economically favorable geography and an admissions test like Lusher.

Benjamin Franklin High School Admissions Policy


1. Complete applications with all required documents must be submitted to the Admissions Office. • You may print it from the website ( and click the Admissions tab), or pick one up from the school. • Applications are accepted during school hours beginning in October. • Applications may be submitted in person, by mail, email, fax, or online (when available). The timely application deadline will be in January and the date specified in the Admissions Calendar. We will continue to accept applications after that date as long as space is available.

2. If the student does not have Iowa test scores, they will be scheduled to test when the application is submitted.

3. Test scores are mailed to the applicant when they are available (approximately a month after testing).

4. Acceptance letters are sent beginning in February of the year of application when we determine that the applicant is qualified to enter Benjamin Franklin High School and will continue on a rolling basis.

5. The final admission letter is sent from the principal when all required documents have been submitted including final report cards and LEAP scores where applicable.


• Our Admissions Open House is held in the fall every year; check the Admissions Calendar and/or the website for the date and time. Our students, teachers, and administrators will be here to provide tours of the school, explain our academic and extracurricular programs and to answer questions.

• Families may schedule tours of the school by calling or emailing the Admissions Office. We are happy to provide guided tours but we do not provide for student “shadow” days.


Applying for 9th grade:

1. Residency in Orleans Parish.

2. 88 points on the admissions matrix which come from the reading, language, and math portions of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills taken in 7th or 8th grade and the 1st trimester or mid-year report card from 8th grade.

3. Promotion by the current school to 9th grade with no failing grades in academic subjects.

4. Passing score on the LEAP exam if you reside in Louisiana.

Applying for 10th grade:

1. Residency in Orleans Parish.

2. 88 points on the admissions matrix from the reading, language, and math portions of the Iowa Test of Educational Development taken in 8th or 9th grade and the grades from the 1st trimester or mid-year report card from 9th grade.

3. Promotion by the current school to 10th grade with no failing grades in academic subjects.

4. One credit each in English, math, science, social studies, and foreign language from your 9th grade school.

Applying for 11th grade:

1. Residency in Orleans Parish.

2. 108 points on our matrix from the reading, language, and math portions of the Iowa Test of Educational Development taken in the 9th or 10th grade and the student’s transcript showing all high school grades.

3. Promotion by the current school to the 11th grade with no failing grades in academic subjects.

4. Two credits each in English, math, science, social studies, and foreign language.

Applying for 12th grade:

Applications are not accepted for senior year.

Lusher Admissions

In-District Admissions
The in-district (neighborhood) process is available for those families who live within the Lusher school district (neighborhood).  To view the In-district address list, please visit our website at – forms and downloads page.  In-district applicants must complete the application packet, provide the required documentation, and provide proof of residency.  

The in-district (neighborhood) process runs from February 18th to March 14th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on March 15th from 9 a.m. until noon. Lusher strongly encourages parents living in the neighborhood district to complete a community application as well.

Community Admissions

The Community process is open to all those living in Orleans Parish. All community applicants must complete an application packet, take an admissions test, attend a curriculum meeting (K-1 only), and submit other required documentation.  Community applicants, who also live within the Lusher district, may submit an in-district application in addition to the community application.  

Lusher Middle School (6-8) first admits current 5th grade Lusher students. Remaining seats are filled with candidates who have applied through the community application process.

Lusher is close to 50-60% White while RSD averages 98% poor and African American.

Of course many of the remaining schools that perform better have stricter “unenrollment” criteria which filter out the lower performing students. For instance, charters can decide that any disciplinary problem warrants expulsion, but they can offer the students a chance to leave the school voluntarily to avoid an explusion.

These factors were not considered by CREDO, nor were they even mentioned which is completely absurd. CREDO went into a big spiel about trying to find “matched pairs” of students based on identical demographics to mask this glaring deficiency. It sounds good, but one of the characteristics they did not match on is the fact that many of these students were segregated by test scores and performance. How could there not be a difference in achievement learning when charters are already pre-selecting and de-selecting based on the very metric CREDO is measuring?

Another laughable claim that CREDO makes relates to SPED achievement.

Special education students in New Orleans charter schools progress significantly more than their counterparts in New Orleans TPS in both reading and math. This amounts to 65 additional days of learning in reading and 43 more days in math for special education students in New Orleans charter schools. These results are slightly higher than were found statewide.

I would say that this study finding borders on the criminal and strongly caution parents not to pay attention to this finding. Charter schools do not take on the more significantly impaired students. Even though the CREDO folks has access to the severity of disabilities, the CREDO study relied on the most basic of Special Education indicator for their study. SPED = Y/N. This indicator also included gifted “Special Education” students in many years. Most of the disabled students charter schools do accept are the mild/moderate classification with speech and hearing impairments, not the severe profound students that may even be hospital bed bound that traditional schools must serve.

I sent multiple questions to CREDO for an detailed explanation of how they accounted for these issues, the charter schools that filter students based on high test scores, the SPED indicator, the disparity of severity in SPED enrollment, but they have refused to reply to me to date. Here is a copy of my most recent inquiry that has gone unanswered.

Date: Wed, 28 Aug 2013 01:55:35 -0500
Subject: CREDO and New Orleans Charters


From the article I saw posted locally it appears you used a number of selective admission charter schools that select students based on high test scores. Were you aware of this and how did you account for this?

Did you do any studies on differences in severity of SPED diagnosis between charter schools and traditional schools. Our charters tend to turn away the more severe profound and serve more mild moderate disabled students.  Did you examine or account for this difference in student population or simply classify them all as SPED or not SPED?

Did you account for data being wildly inaccurate and incomplete for many charters and RSD schools in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007?

I’ve seen a rebuttal that whether simply being a charter school only accounted for one half of 1 % of differences on Colorado’s NEPC site.  Do you have a response?

The Louisiana Department of Education has likewise refused to release this data to any non-pro-charter front organizations to conduct true independent research (they have been fighting the release of this data in the courts for the last 18 months), but this has not prevented newspapers from pushing this propaganda paid for by the Walton’s as independent research. If I was a journalist I would be ashamed that I allowed myself to be fooled by such an easy thing to research and such a glaring conflict of interests.

CREDO is simply not credible, they are not a research institution, they are pro-charter propaganda churner and should be classified as such by anytime anything they produce is quoted in an newspaper or news program that claims to be unbiased and impartial. If you are a parent, please do not pay CREDO any more attention than you would a miscellaneous propaganda pamphlet handed out at neighborhood grocery store, or stuffed under you front door handle. You can see CREDO as a joke, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a PR firm or a charter school pimp, but an independent research organization they are not.

Everything but the Squeal – A sequel

Everything but the Squeal – A sequel

At the turn of the last Century, Upton Sinclair wrote a novel that horrified the nation with its depiction of the meat packing industry. As part of his research for this novel, The Jungle, Sinclair spent over 6 months working in the industry and documenting their practices. His intent was to reveal how immigrants were treated but what captured the attention of the nation was his matter-of-fact recounting of pigs hoisted into the air by their feet as their throats we slit to spew their lifeblood in assembly line efficiency, tales of employees falling into the rendering vats, dying and not being retrieved, and shovels full meat scraps, rats and feces being methodically swept and shoveled into meat hoppers storing meat scraps to be made into sausages.

There was never the least attention paid to what was cut up for sausage; there would come all the way back from Europe old sausage that had been rejected, and that was moldy and white–it would be dosed with borax and glycerine, and dumped into the hoppers, and made over again for home consumption. There would be meat that had tumbled out on the floor, in the dirt and sawdust, where the workers had tramped and spit uncounted billions of consumption germs. There would be meat stored in great piles in rooms; and the water from leaky roofs would drip over it, and thousands of rats would race about on it. It was too dark in these storage places to see well, but a man could run his hand over these piles of meat and sweep off handfuls of the dried dung of rats. These rats were nuisances, and the packers would put poisoned bread out for them; they would die, and then rats, bread, and meat would go into the hoppers together. This is no fairy story and no joke; the meat would be shoveled into carts, and the man who did the shoveling would not trouble to lift out a rat even when he saw one– there were things that went into the sausage in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit. There was no place for the men to wash their hands before they ate their dinner, and so they made a practice of washing them in the water that was to be ladled into the sausage. There were the butt-ends of smoked meat, and the scraps of corned beef, and all the odds and ends of the waste of the plants, that would be dumped into old barrels in the cellar and left there. Under the system of rigid economy which the packers enforced, there were some jobs that it only paid to do once in a long time, and among these was the cleaning out of the waste barrels. Every spring they did it; and in the barrels would be dirt and rust and old nails and stale water–and cartload after cartload of it would be taken up and dumped into the hoppers with fresh meat, and sent out to the public’s breakfast. Some of it they would make into “smoked” sausage–but as the smoking took time, and was therefore expensive, they would call upon their chemistry department, and preserve it with borax and color it with gelatine to make it brown. All of their sausage came out of the same bowl, but when they came to wrap it they would stamp some of it “special,” and for this they would charge two cents more a pound.  (from Chapter 14 of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair)

The phase, “Everything but the squeal” was documented in Sinclair’s work as a prominent and prideful boast of meat processors – testament to their ability to extract every last bit of value from the farm animals they had groomed to exploit and process and a favorite claim of one of the chief pioneers of assembly line animal disassembly Gustavus Franklin Swift. Of course as you can see below, not much has changed today for the animals (this is one of the least horrifying pictures of slaughterhouse processing I could find), although conditions for workers improved over the next decades with the creation and ascendency of trade and labor unions in the early 20th century and sanitation was improved with the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act (which paved the way for the creation of today’s FDA) in large part due to the success and outrage over Sinclair’s signature debuting muckraker novel.

Pigs begin the process of being liberated from their fleshy confines

Nevertheless, the claim was both impressive and valid. Some of the products produced in addition to meats and sausages were oleomargarine, soap, glue, instrument strings, fertilizer, hairbrushes, buttons, knife handles, and pharmaceutical preparations such as pepsin and insulin. Low-grade meats were canned in products like pork and beans.

Early charter school model

This was capitalism performing at its finest, employing thousands of workers methodically slaughtering and sorting animals and animal pieces and by-products to support millions of people. While even today most of us would turn away and be disgusted by the practices of slaughterhouses, nevertheless the basic model invented at the turn of the 19th century is still employed today in the 21st century. These methods are used to supply billions of people with food and byproducts for countless industries. As a society and people we have come to accept that there are basic differences between the rights of animals, and products, and the rights of people. (Although before labor unions the rights of immigrants and generationally poor people were sometimes indistinguishable from the rights, or lack thereof, we afforded animals.)

Today we are much more civilized. We treat our immigrants that we depend upon for harvesting and producing our food supply well, seldom eating them if they fall into vats of rendering solutions and we almost always retrieve them from the fields if they expire while picking our fruits and vegetables for less than minimum wage. If we had immigrant labor unions, immigrants would have to be paid living wages, sanitary work conditions, time-wasting perks like work breaks and lunches, and they would probably face competition from American born workers who might be inspired to pick up a shovel instead of a welfare check. Obviously the marginalization and elimination of labor unions has been a boon for our illegal immigrants as well as our stomachs.

When capitalism is unshackled, everyone wins. That is why some of our most brilliant and moneyed minds of the 21st century have shrewdly focused in on the opportunities, efficiencies and profits to be made in the education sector.

The public education sector is quaint, but antiquated. For centuries Americans have resisted the impulse to turn schools into production facilities, and to treat children as valuable resources that can be turned into products and traded like commodities. At least 19th Century Americans had an excuse, child labor and prostitution allowed them to extract something of value from children. As so called “civilized” societies passed laws that prevented child slavery a great deal of wealth was left untapped and children became valued as something other than resources. As a result the birth rate in our country dropped off precipitously, as children became resource hogs, rather than resources in their own rights.

Today’s school reformers and entrepreneurs have wisely recognized the nascent value we’ve overlooked for so long – but no longer. Today’s students are both more challenging but potentially rewarding that any we’ve had before. The key is in perfecting and refining the value extraction process. There may be more than one way to skin a cat (although I’m not sure why you’d want to) but there are virtually infinite ways to make money off of children and the public education system. I can’t hope to cover them all in a single piece, but I have jotted down a few.

Charter/child processing school/facility (Many charters have learned how to use the “whole child”)

One of the latest profit extracting innovations is the charter school. (Frankly you have to be pretty incompetent not to make money off of children with a charter school.) Charter schools get their facilities for free, (usually rent free while the home district is still making payments on the bonds issued to build them), insurance free, and with plenty of grant money to fix them up into tip top shape (or pocket if they find the shape they are in is tip top enough for their liking.) Numerous private donors line up to give “grants” and donations to new charter schools. In turn, many of these charter schools are free to contract with their “donors” for professional services paid for by state or federal funds that cannot go directly to a charter. While some may see this as a kickback, these arrangements are perfectly legal in most cases so long as there is no documented quid pro quo. And even if they aren’t, who would be able to look at that kind of thing? Charter schools can partner with IT shops and vendors, or form their own subsidiary companies to take advantage of the millions of dollars in e-rate technology grants and special purpose department of Ed grants. It’s no coincidence that many of the biggest donors to the charter movement are IT companies or heads like Michael and Susan Dell and Bill Gates. (Can you say captive hardware and software clients and increased market share?)

The last time I checked the largest company in terms of market capitalization was Google. Google makes its money by collecting data on everyone, by sending robot cars up and down everyone’s streets endlessly taking pictures and selling and aggregating that data and targeted advertising. What Google gathers over the internet is information that is freely provided by people. It may or may not be complete, but there is no guarantee it is honest, complete and unflattering. Yet, with what they have, they still have been able to produce a very profitable empire! However, what the next generation of information aggregators hopes to gather is so much more impressive. They intend to gather everything about everyone who has ever attended any public school. (Eventually private schools will be enticed to do the same in exchange for free software or hardware perhaps.) This will reach back decades and will eventually include everything from phone numbers, pictures, parents names and addresses, discipline records, health and disability records, performance metrics, subjects taken and every interest or altercation ever recorded. Companies like inBloom, Ed-Fi, Amplify, Wireless Generation, and countless others are lining up at the trough to gorge themselves on student data that can be used to personally enrich themselves by creating new products, much as the airline industry charges ala-cart fees for everything from not sitting next to crying babies, to boarding a few minutes earlier, to picking up your luggage at your destination, sitting with your family or sitting on the wings or in the cargo holds. (Those last two are under discussion.)

But this is just the beginning. Shrewd reformers are only just beginning to tap into the full profit potential of children. A cottage industry of curriculum and test administration has sprung up called Common Core, or CCSS that dramatically expands the data points collected, charges states exorbitant amounts of money to test all children (as much as 4 times as much for a single administration), and opens up an unlimited market for instructional materials, supplemental guides, tutoring services, learning “games”, etc. While most of the biggest information players like Rupert Murdoch, Michael Bloomberg, Michael Dell, Bill Gates, and Pearson Education, are already positioned to reap the most rewards and profits, there will be numerous opportunities for information prospectors to pan for education dollars from the scraps they leave behind or let fall from the table (after their grinding.)

John White demonstrates LDOE value extraction methods on excited charter school student screaming about how wonderful it is to be going to a good school.

Now politicians can enjoy school too. With the privatization of what was formally the public sector, anyone can be a political hack as long as they accept money from privatizing forces and agree to do anything they say and ignore any evidence that reveals their schemes. In fact, much as intelligence and curiosity will have little to do with schooling in the charter school of the today and future, intelligence, curiosity and ethics are now a real detriment to a politician. Politicians free of these trappings will be able to accept more money, more readily, and with none of the guilt or reservations someone with a soul, conscience, or sense of decency might experience.

Rocketship Academy – actual photo. You can tell these kids are really going. . . somewhere. . . at least vicariously.
Rocketship Academy – only 3 of the kids had to have their hands bolted to the chairs and neck collars installed to prevent neck swiveling.

Even big-box retailers like Walmart can extract some value from the charter school system of the future. Employees with personalities and extraneous knowledge and experiences can be a real drag, and robots are expensive. This is why the Waltons, have gotten in on the charter chuck wagon. Now rather than train their own employees with minimal skills and interests to perform tedious tasks, Walmart can rely on a ready supply of perfectly prepared recruits to staff its stores and warehouses. These recruits of the future will be force-fed CCSS Miltonian Economic philosophy so as to prepare them for a life of minimum wage (or perhaps no wages if we can lift that productivity killing handicap) zero benefits, repetition injuries, and the planned obsolescence of their positions (eventually the cost of robots will come down if the Japanese have anything to say about it.)

Thankfully schooling is more than about just school, it’s about making your transition from school to a life of silos and cubicles:

” I am a Rocketship Rocketeer at home, at school, and in my community. . .”

As this daily mantra explains, soon we can all be rocketships at home, school and in our communities. And when we’re all rocketships, this will seem normal. Then we will finally have been “Reformed” and ready to accept any new ways we can be used to make money for our charter operators. 

I only wish I had a chance to have my full potential drained and distributed like those lucky pigs, in the first photo and todays charter student pioneers.

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