An article appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer titled "Charter school recruiting "gimmicks" draw fire from church leaders who declare, Our children are not for sale." The article draws attention to a Cleveland communities ire at marketing tricks employed by a for-profit charter school
A new charter school that parked an ice cream truck behind a Cleveland school district school this summer to attract students has angered neighborhood parents and a regional coalition of churches.
Officials of the Greater Cleveland Congregations and parents of students at Case Elementary School on the near East Side gathered Monday to call that recruiting effort unacceptable and to seek assurances from the new East Preparatory Academy charter school that it aims to provide quality education and not just make profits off students.
Community members attempted to hand the principal a letter, which she promptly refused to accept.
Jawanza Colvin, pastor of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, said the group does not want charter schools – schools that are publicly-funded but privately-run – to be able to attract students with gimmicks like ice cream or electronic giveaways without providing a quality education.
"The message that we're sending to all the poor-performing charter schools in the city of Cleveland is that our kids are not for sale," Colvin said, before leading the crowd in chants of "Our children are not for sale."
Kids in Ohio are for sale to charter schools. These kinds of marketing tactics are mild compared to some efforts, such as those we detailed a few weeks ago employed by K12 Inc, an Ohio charter eschool
Former sales employees at K12's call centers described high pressure to make huge enrollment quotas in order to get a commission. Sales employees were provided with a "script" of what to say to prospective students and parents, including purported "statistics" showing that K12 students were years more advanced than brick-and-mortar school students. Sample quotes:
1. CW2 described a toxic work environment where sales staff were pressured to meet unrealistic quotas, frequently being forced to make as many as 200 outgoing calls daily to keep up. CW2 confirmed that sales staff were never given any actual data of student performance, but were instead fed statistics from K12's website, and were told to tell parents that students who did the K12 program for 1-2 years performed better than their peers at brick and mortar schools.
2. CW4 stated that there was constant pressure to generate sales, describing the Company's sales philosophy as "enroll, enroll, enroll." CW4 stated that enrollment consultants were instructed to refer to the performance of K12 students as "comparable [to] or even better" than the performance of students at traditional schools, and to state that students at K12 schools were "on a better tier" than those at traditional schools.
Sale, or enrollment, are critical to the for-profit efforts of charter schools. Once a student is on their rolls they get paid by the state. If that student subsequently leaves, that money does not transfer back to the district, but stays with the charter school. It's a nice gravy train. Would you be surprised to learn that the East Preparatory Academy mentioned in the Plain Dealer article has deep ties to David Brennan and White Hat Management?