The truth about Louisiana’s failing Education system, 10 schools Louisiana should be proud of

The truth about Louisiana’s failing Education system, 10 schools Louisiana should be proud of

July 21, 2017 1 By congotvnetwork

Louisiana is considered one of the worst places in America for Public Education. In fact, US News ranks Louisiana #46 in their most recent poll. While there may be some truth to these polls we’ve researched several markets in Louisiana and discovered a few bright spots.

In order to understand how schools may underperform you’d have to unravel the many flaws of Public Education on a National level. Usually, states with a struggling economy tend to have weakened Education platforms. States with a stable economy and less poverty tend to have more productive educational opportunities.

It’s not always a school’s fault. Poor school ratings are not always a result of inadequate teachers. When the plague is in the air it affects everything in it’s vacinity. Under the new Governor John Edwards, the state has already shown signs of economic progress. That progress is expected to impact the educational future of the state as well.

In several cities throughout the state, landmark schools have been threatened with termination due to low test scores and major enrollment decline. Most of these schools are minority schools which struggle to survive in areas of poverty. According to Public School Review, the most diverse school district in Louisiana is the Belle Chasse Academy, Inc School District, a suburban area on the New Orleans Westbank. Many other parts of the state have been slow to diversify largely due to the structure of communities in the city.

Some school districts will never have a balanced racial demographic base because the racial divide goes deeper than a school. Many schools in Louisiana are in markets which still have a ‘Black side of town’ and a ‘White side of town’. When resources continue to skip over the ‘Black side of town’ the schools in these areas are neglected and they are still expected to perform at the same level of schools in more fortunate areas of the market. 

Our research proves low performing schools are not so much about race as they are about wealth. Schools with majority students from middle class or higher households tend to perform well in any district. Schools with a large enrollment of kids from low income areas tend to struggle more. It appears to be a racial dynamic but truthfully it’s an income consequence. Unfortunately, in Louisiana the two seem to be siamese twins.

If a large part of the community works minimum wage jobs the offspring of that struggle reaches the classroom everyday. Many of these parents are working two and sometimes three jobs to stay afloat. Not because they choose to. But, because the job pay is so low that it takes that many jobs just to get by. The hours these parents must spend working are hours that parents in more fortunate situations have to invest into their children’s educational progress. Take a look at every failing school in Louisiana. The common denominator is the lack of domestic support.

Because schools are demanded to reach a high SPS (School Performance Score), teachers aren’t given time to nurture students who lack it. These scores are so demanding that many schools in Louisiana with incredible programs are targeted as ‘bad schools’ due to low SPS scores but they really aren’t ‘bad schools’. They are neglected schools. Neglected school districts. Neglected communities. Neglected kids.

Students who arrive at school each morning already distracted from domestic deficiencies are less likely to give their undivided attention to daily classroom instruction. These same domestic conflicts are also the root of the behaviorial problems. There should be a separate auditing system for schools with a large population of students from areas of poeverty. It’s not a curve. It’s not a pass. It’s an equilibrium.

There are two kinds of schools that never have to deal with these daily conflicts. Schools with ‘Select Enrollment’ or schools based in districts that are exempt from the consequences of poverty. While these schools continue to produce high scores, schools with greater giants to slay are deemed ‘bad’ and are held under a constant microscope to produce at equivalent performace levels.

Teachers are being bullied to teach only what students will be tested. They can’t be the nurturers they need to be. Schools are being threatened with termination or a decline in funds if they don’t reach an expected SPS. So rather than meet the complete need of the student they pass him alone to hide the appearance of underperforming as a school. The state will categorize kids who come from homes that are barely surviving but truth be told the state’s educational system is barely surviving. How can the pot call the kettle black if they are both trying to avoid more fire by any means necessary?

While it’s easy to focus on the failures of the Louisiana Public School System, we’ve found some interesting programs being offered around the state. If Louisiana wants to improve the future of its Educational system, it needs to embrace schools with unique programs and consider replicating these programs more around the state. There is no purpose in focusing on increasing SPS numbers if the education system isn’t interested in programs that do nothing to decrease incarceration numbers.

We’ve found ten schools Louisiana can’t afford to lose. Some of these schools aren’t A Rated Schools but they offer unique programs which are underestimated in their own cities. These schools have created patterns which could be ideal in perfecting the educational landscape of the whole state. While there are many other schools in every Louisiana city doing a fantastic job, these schools stood out to our staff and we’d like to share them with you.

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Huntington High School – Shreveport, LA  (Law)

Here’s a school with a full courtroom on campus. Students can begin studying Law and Business Management in the 9th Grade. However, Law electives are available for every grade. “Students do mock trials in our own courtroom and they also study in our Forensics Science Lab,” said Angela Politz, Assistant Principal and former Magnet Coordinator. Shreveport Attorney Joe Landreneaux will head the program in the coming school year. Landreneaux is a former US Attorney and will carry the program which has existed at Huntington since the 90’s.

While another school in the city also has a Law program (Caddo Magnet) Politz says Huntington is a Title 1 School and most of their kids haven’t had a great perception of the Criminal Justice System. “We want them to know all the opportunities available. Many kids may not go to Law School but this program gives them a better understanding of how the Law works,” she said. “They may not become a lawyer but there are other opportunities. Some will get a job in the Criminal Justice system as a Police Officer, Juvenile Detention Officer, or a Clerk.”  According to the 2015 State Scores, Huntington is a D school but it’s the only High School in North Louisiana with a majority Black enrollment offering Law as an elective.

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Lafayette High School – Lafayette, LA  (Health Sciences)

Since 2014, Lafayette High School has had the largest enrollment in the state of Louisiana. With 2400 students it is almost impossible to provide programs which attract every student. Perhaps the most popular program offered is the Academy For Health Sciences. Because 300-400 students apply each year, they have to choose 100 students through a lottery.

“It is an awesome program. Students from all over the Parish are allowed to enroll, even if they aren’t students at LHS,” said Ronald Johnnie, Assistant Principal. “The Junior and Senior classes are college level material,” he said.

Seniors earn their scrubs and get to intern at Lourdes Hospital. The school also has a partnership with Acadian Ambulance. “Students get to job shadow and help the EMTs during local festivals,” said Johnnie. “They pair with EMTs for ride-alongs and visits.”

While Lafayette High School improved from a B to an A school in the 2015 state scores, the quest to provide programs for over 2,000 students each year can’t possibly be an easy responsibility. It’s even harder to improve with a larger student body. They seem to have figured out a plan for success and they should be commended for it.

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Madison Prep – Baton Rouge, LA  (Construction)

While most people in South Louisiana know Madison Preparatory Academy for their thriving Athletics Department, their Career and Technical Education Program continues to open doors for many of their students.

While these programs may be scattered all over the state, what makes Madison Prep stand out is how they implement the program into the daily life of the students. Crime in Baton Rouge continues to increase in the circles of young Black males. The CTE program at Madison Prep keeps these students occupied while developing a skill which will help land them very profitable jobs after High School.

Coach Michael Roach can not only give his young men an athletic outlet but he also has access to their career center in which young males are learning Architecture Drafting, Engineering, Business Entrepreneurship, and Construction. Madison Preparatory Academy is a part of the Community School for Apprenticeship Learning Incorporated Charter School Organization in Baton Rouge.

The school’s Construction program has become so effective that students are building much of their campus furniture. The cafeteria tables were built by the students. Cabinets, podiums, and even desks are built by students. While it’s just a desk now, maybe it’s the seed that will prompt them to eventually began building homes and buildings. The program has given many of the young males a future career path that wasn’t planted in their minds before attending Madison Prep.

Principal Alisha Welsh understands the importance of programs which help secure productive roles in the Baton Rouge work society so the CTE program is a priority for the school. A school which began with just 90 students now has over 200 students and there is a waiting list in every grade. Welsh says programs like CTE have helped their school improve from a C school to a B school. They have seen the interest in young Black males increase due to these kind of programs because it provides more than just a grade. It gives them another life option.

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Edna Karr High School – New Orleans, LA  (Incentive Based Scholarships)

In May, Black Boot posted a video of Edna Karr’s most recent graduation. The video displayed an energetic celebration of students dancing after hearing they had accumulated more than $7M in scholarships and 100% of their class was accepted into college. Perhaps one of the reasons they continue to reap positive results is due to a Pay Incentive Program introduced by former Principal Harold Clay.

“We are a College Preparatory School. Our goal is to motivate students for college. I introduced a system that pays students $100 cash for doing their work. When I go to my job I expect to get paid. Well, school is their job. We provide an incentive to improve their commitment to college,” said Clay. The students aren’t just paid the $100 incentive for making good grades. They must also increase their AP Score. “Their score has to be 3 or higher,” Clay explained.

The AP Score is used by colleges and universities to determine if they will grant a student credit for what the student has already learned or allow the student to skip the equivalent course once they are accepted into college. This is known as “Advanced Placement.”

Five is the highest score but Clay says the hardest thing is to simply get students motivated enough to even take the courses. “AP Courses are harder. Most students don’t want to sign up for extra work and tougher assignments. Our Pay Incentive encourages them to enroll in AP courses but more importantly it is a simple way to guarantee their acceptance into a college,” said Clay.

An AP Score of 3 means “Qualified”. It means you have proven yourself capable of doing the work of an introductory-level course in a particular subject at college. Most colleges grant credit and placement for a score of 3 or higher. So, when Edna Karr announces 100% of the seniors are accepted into college, it’s because they are one of very few schools in the region that devotes daily after school hours for free to increase AP scores. A large portion of their students stay at school every day for nearly three extra hours to attend free tutoring sessions at the school.

During the Summer, the school visits the campuses of schools their students intend to attend. They have taken bus loads of students to Georgia, New York, Harvard, Florida, Washington D.C., and several other states visiting some of the most notable universities in America. They take the students to Louisiana College campuses all through the year.

The money paid to the students is accumulated through a donation campaign headed by Alumni and local Community Leaders. This program has earned them National Support from Ellen Degeneres, Ashton Kutcher, and Michael Eric Dyson among many others. Clay has now been promoted to a District Position within the Inspire Nola Charter System but he expects the school’s new principal, David Lewis, will most likely continue the successful Incentive Program. Perhaps this program is one of the reasons Edna Karr High School is one of the only majority Black High Schools in Louisiana with an A rating.

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Langston Hughes Elementary – New Orleans (Agriculture)

Gardening and Culinary Education is the staple of this school but more importantly, it is a shared curriculum in 5 elementary platforms in the Firstline Charter School System in New Orleans. Langston Hughes, a majority Black elementary in the 7th Ward of New Orleans, is one of the few schools in the city that get to experience the ESYNOLA initiative. The “Edible School Yard – New Orleans” program was built to integrate hands-on organic gardening and seasonal cooking into the school curriculum, culture, and cafeteria programs.

Through the ESYNOLA program the students learn about planting crops. Then, they actually plant the crops in a farming area on the school’s campus. After growing the crops, they are taught how to cook the food in a classroom kitchen.

As part of this vision, the whole school community – students, families, teachers, and neighbors – are able to participate in the growing, harvesting and sharing of food together as a means of building community and improving the health and well-being of all those they serve.

The students learn to milk cows and goats, how to grow plants, understand nature and seasonal foods… all done in a farming area on the school grounds. The school’s facility itself is a work of beauty. Many of the teachers put in extra hours voluntarily to help push at risk youth higher yet their efforts are always upstaged by state scores. Even with such a dynamic agriculture platform, Langston Hughes earned a D by the state. The score completely underminds all the school’s efforts to improve the struggling community around it.

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Richwood High School – Monroe, LA  (Dentistry)

On the Southside of Monroe is the Richwood Community. A school that was once closed down for nearly two decades, was rebuilt and reopened bigger and better in 2005. The school has evolved to being more than just a neighborhood school. Richwood High School is the landmark of the community with a Multi-Million dollar Career Center as a featured component of the school.

This is not a cute little building for kids to have workshops. Their Career Center is one of a kind incubator for jobs. Affiliated with the Jump Start Initiative, Richwood trains students for Mechanical and Technical jobs which will be available to them after High School.

Whether it’s Welding, Construction, Auto Mechanics… they offer training. Reports project an increase in Louisiana’s job growth but they also show a decrease in the Louisiana workforce pool. Richwood offers Welding as an elective along with a certified Nurses Assistant Program but one of the most unique parts of the Richwood Career Center is the Dentistry Program.

“We are excited about the growth of our Dentistry Program. It is available to Juniors and Seniors as a one hour elective but will expand to two hours this coming school year,” said Dr. Sherilynn Loche, Principal. “When students graduate they earn a DA1 Certificate which can be used to retain an entry level position in a Dentist Office,” said Dr. Loche.

At Richwood, the students get to work in a Dentistry Lab in their Campus Career Center. The Dentistry Lab is first class, decked with very expensive dental chairs and real dental equipment. The lighting is dynamic and this year they’ll use mannequins with teeth during their classes.

“They must attend on-campus instructional courses first. Once they have completed these courses they can intern for local Dentists,” said Loche. She believes their Career Center is important because every child deserves an opportunity to earn a living in the city in which they live. “We want them to have the tools they need to be productive members of our community,” said Loche. Local DH, Christine Jenkins, will oversee the program in the upcoming school year.

Richwood is in an area of the Monroe region that is almost 100% Black. There is only one bank within a 10 mile radius of the community. There is one post office to service more than 20,000 residents. There is no real shopping center. The area doesn’t even have a Wal-Mart. It is one of the lowest areas of the state for business opportunity per capita.

Richwood High School earned a C by the state. However, it is worth mentioning that Richwood is nearly 100% Black and a C is the highest score of all predonimantely Black High Schools in the entire North Louisiana including Monroe and Shreveport High Schools. Saddenly, Richwood’s C is also the only C. All the other predominately Black High Schools scored even lower than this.

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Booker T. Washington High School – Shreveport, LA  (Mass Communications)

Not only is “BTW” the oldest Black High School in Caddo Parish but their Telecommunication Center has been a feeder for the local Broadcasting community for many years. Their Telecomm Magnet program is complete with Digital Editing, Radio and Television Broadcasting, Journalism, and even Music Production.

The program is so elite that students can earn dual hours through Southern University at Shreveport. “If they are in our program for two years they can can enter college with 12 college credits,” said Katrina Gilliam, Program Director. Gilliam says Local TV and Radio Personalities volunteer to mentor their students each month.

Their studio has more than $100,000 worth of equipment in which their students use to produce their own News Broadcasts and Radio Broadcasts on campus. The school gets a federal grant to help build the program each year but Gilliam says the community at large has helped to sustain the program each year.

“We’ve had 12 students to be hired in local media. Two of those students now own very respected Production Studios in our city,” said Gilliam. “Our students get the opportunity to attend Journalism Day at Northwestern St. University each year as well as Media Day at Wiley College. The support of these colleges motivate our students to continue their goal to become a broadcaster.”

Students must have a 2.5 GPA or higher to be accepted into the program with no behavioral discrepancies. While the program is housed on Booker T. Washington’s campus, Gilliam says they accept students from all over the Parish.

Even with a program that has produced positive results, Booker T. Washington High School received an F score by the state. As a matter of fact, it received an F score for two consecutive years. It’s worth noting Booker T. Washington is in the Allendale/Lakeside area of Shreveport. Only about 34% of the residents went to college. 66% of the kids in the area are being raised in Single Parent homes. Of the 19,500+ households in the district 6,500 didn’t even finish High School. The average median income is $24,000 per year. Even with a full household of multiple workers the average income is just $33,000 per year. Kids from this environment are expected to master skills that many of their own parents never even mastered.  (Source: Point 2 Homes Research Center) 

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Excellence Academy – Monroe, LA  (Technology & Travel)

In just three years, this school has become a beacon of light in the Monroe City School system. It is the only middle school in the city where every kid in the school is awarded an iPad on the first day of school. Each kid is given a school code in order to work their personal tablets while on campus. The school has more than 200 students and every kid gets a school issued tablet.

“We are living in a technology driven society and minority students are not being properly prepared to compete,” said Rev. Roosevelt Wright, Jr, Executive Director. “At Excellence we are teaching them how to follow the stock market on their phones and understand investing. They are learning to comprehend computer software and how to build mobile apps. The kids are learning to operate elite music and television recording software,” he added. Their signature red academy jackets and ties give the appearance of young executives when you see them in the hallways with their electronic devices.

Each year, the school puts on a major stage play at the city’s Civic Center. All the costume designs for the plays are designed and sewn by students who are learning Fashion Design and Staging with computer software.

The school does not give homework and the students do not carry books. “All of their assignments are done by iPad or personal tablet. We teach them how to use every resource available to them to master their assignments,” said Wright.

The school is known for their Travel Opportunities. In the past three years alone, the school has taken students to Hawaii, Alaska, all of the original 13 Colonies, the White House, the Statue of Liberty, Texas, and a Louisiana History Tour in which they visited and studied major cities in the state. All their trips and tours are organized by students. They research the landmarks on their tablets, plan the trips with their software, and use their iPads to construct budget plans for them to raise enough money to travel. 

Wright admits Excellence has struggled academically but he feels the blame should be more on the neglect to poor students than the failure of the school. Excellence, like many other schools, have to correct a greater problem before they can solve the academic epidemic.

“One of the paramount issues with Black youth is exposure. Many have never left the state. A global perspective of the world broadens a child’s horizons. Unfortunately, many Black kids come from households with fixed incomes and never really see the world,” said Wright. “We are giving them Social Studies about places many of them will never see. History becomes a reality when you can touch the Lincoln Memorial or stand beneath the Statue of Liberty or visit the preserved plantations of the 13 colonies. If you want to teach students about Pearl Harbor, the best way to give them the lesson is to take them to Hawaii. It’s only impossible to people who don’t think outside a box. World changers must see the world they are being groomed to change,” said Wright.

In order to travel with the school, they must be enrolled in the school’s Time Traveler’s Program. Within that program they must read extra books other than what’s already required by the daily curriculum. They must answer answer questions about the books they read. Those books and the tests are all given to them electronically and must be submitted to their instructors electronically.

“Students live here. They have access to their tablets and our computer center even on the weekends. Many of them come from homes without Internet Access. As long as they are doing something productive they have access to their school. On any given Saturday, you will find rooms of students at the school on their tablets and computers completing projects or learning about the latest software advances.

The school even has a full TV Studio and Radio Studio where those who want to be Newscasters or Musicians can record their music on campus free of charge. The only requirement is that they learn to work the computer software for themselves. Their program has attracted the visits of Stedman Graham and actor Lamann Rucker. They have even been publicly saluted by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and they have even been blessed with a mentorship from President Barack Obama’s sister, Dr. Maya Ng.

While everyone around the world applauds the Excellence program, the Monroe City School Board consistently attempts to close the school down using poor performance results as their basis. Excellence Academy received a D rating by the state board. However, only one middle school in the entire Monroe scored higher. Lee Junior High is the only middle school in the city with a decent grade and it only scored a C. Robert E. Lee Junior is also the only middle school in the whole city in an area above the poverty level. All three of the other middle schools in the city are predominately Black schools in areas of poverty and they all scored a D grade.

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NOCCA – New Orleans, LA  (The Arts)

A Louisiana headliner is the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. For The Arts in Louisiana, there is just nothing like it in the region. The school is so impressive that groups book tours throughout the year just to visit the campus. The campus itself is so fascinating it should be listed on the Louisiana Tourism list of ‘Must See Sites’.

On NOCCA’s campus the sculptures, statues, and life size art pieces are all designed by NOCCA art students. If you hadn’t read this and visited the campus you would swear you were visiting a very expensive art museum in France.

Founded in 1973 by artists, it has continued as the elite of the elite for their notable Performing Arts curriculum. Through intensive instruction they have produced many of the biggest singers, actors, and Jazz artists in the world including: Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Harry Connick Jr., Terrance Blanchard, Jeanne-Michele Charbonnet, Wendell Pierce, Anthony Mackie, and Trombone Shorty among many others.

While NOCCA is known all over the world for its Music Curriculum, it’s the Culinary Arts Program that has become their newest shining star. “Our Culinary Arts Program began just 7 years ago and over 50 students get hands on training with the best Chefs in New Orleans,” said Brian Hammell, Director of Communications and Campus Activities.

The Cooking Facility on NOCCA’s campus is probably better than 50% of the restaurants in the state. Dana Tuohy, the Culinary Chair, gets to work with the best culinary prospects in the region. “The program is very popular because of the opportunities which come through our program. Many of our 12th Grade students get part time jobs at local restaurants through our partnership with Emerald’s Restaurant,” said Hammell.

The NOCCA Culinary Arts Program sends students to Delgado College and Nichols St. University but the program is also supported by and is a pipeline to Johnson & Wales University, one of the most prestigious Culinary institutes in America.

Hammell says what makes NOCCA so different is that, “we are selective but we provide opportunities for any student with serious intentions to succeed in The Arts.” Because NOCCA is an extended learning institution, students from other schools can enroll in their Arts Program and attend Arts classes for a portion of the school day. Some of the teens even catch the New Orleans street car by themselves to attend the high demand courses at NOCCA.

The school was given an A rating by the state but their score goes to prove an even greater point about the Louisiana Public Education System. The Arts should not be taken lightly. When students are given the opportunity to flourish in their areas of personal interest they will also flourish in their studies. Unfortunately, NOCCA is not in an area of poverty but low income students are accepted into the school every year and because of the NOCCA environment they perform at higher levels.

“For most of our students, NOCCA is a refuge. It’s an escape from the difficulties of their life,” said Hammell. “They get to experience a real pathway to achieving their aspirations.”

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TM Landry – Breaux Bridge, LA  (Economics)

There are schools and then there are systems. TM Landry is indeed it’s own system. A system built around Economics and Entrepreneurship. In the 9th Grade, every student is immediately programmed to see themselves as a Business Owner. They are taught to manage millions of dollars at 14 years old. By the time they graduate High School, most of these students already have a Business Plan and own Stocks.

The school is Private but how it began is indeed inspirational. “We never intended to start a school. We went the first 7 years without a name,” said Michael Landry, Co-Founder of TM Landry. “What began as a tutoring program for our own kids evolved into a school.” He and his wife of 17 years, Tracey Landry, founded the school together… thus the name of the school.

“We noticed our oldest daughter was getting A’s in school but she really didn’t comprehend the assignments. She could remember what was necessary to ace the tests. She made A’s but in our eyes, she wasn’t an A student. So my husband and I began tutoring her ourselves,” said Tracey. As their own child improved, other parents trusted them to help secure the same results for their children. Eventually, they realized they weren’t just tutoring kids. They had created a recipe for success.

At Landry, students have Stock Portfolios and they shadow local bankers to learn about Accounting and Investing. “If a student fails, we don’t give them an F. The teacher gets an F. We do not give homework. The whole purpose of our school is to teach them to be ready at all times. So, tests aren’t announced. We expect them to be ready,” said Michael Landry.

The average student carries a 3.6GPA at Landry. One of the requirements of being admitted to Landry is when a student graduates they must come back to Landry as a volunteer mentor to help throughout the year. “We visit our graduates on the college campus. Even while they are in college they are still part of our school,” said Michael.

The school has a ‘year round’ curriculum. “Our students spend the Summer at Yale, Harvard, and Brown,” said Michael. By 11th Grade at Landry they have earned enough credits to actually begin taking college courses. “Our students are only going to college to expand their minds. They are actually tapped into their purpose before they even get to college. We tell them, you aren’t going to college just to get a degree for yourself. You’re going to college for the Pride of the whole community,” said Tracey.

One of the only games allowed on campus is Chess. “Any game that doesn’t prompt them to think is a waste of their time,” said Michael. “We focus on Stocks. They learn how to trade stocks. After college, nobody will care what the score was to a football game. All that will matter is their ability to invest and manage their finances properly. If their parents don’t know how to do it, they can come learn too.”

TM Landry gets no state funding and no federal money. Tuition includes tutoring, supplies, and food. Many of the students don’t leave the campus until 9pm. The reputation of the school is so impressive that they have students who drive as far as Lafayette and Baton Rouge daily and one student even enrolled from as far as New Orleans (3 hours away).

Students shadow local bankers three days out of the month to learn investment banking with real clients. National Investors step in throughout the month to help mentor the students.

“We have two grades in our school… A or F. You either know it or you don’t. We are not interested in being average,” said Michael. Even with a $525 monthly tuition, Landry has more than 150 kids on a waiting list. Obviously, Michael and Tracey Landry have figured out a plan that works. 100% of Landry students are accepted into college each year, all majoring in Mathematics, Physics, Economics, and Accounting. Michael and Tracey understand the struggle for many parents to pay $525 per month so the school tries it’s best to work with parents and some of the students get scholarships from local organizations, business owners, and even churches who are proud of the results they produce. 

One strength of TM Landry is that they are a Private platform. Private schools in Louisiana risk losing state funds, which is why they charge for tuition, but the strength is they are not forced to spar with SPS expectations. Many of the state’s private run schools are the few higher performing schools. Maybe it’s because schools with the freedom to focus on the complete need of minority youth understand they must be more than a school. They actually have to be a home.