Monday, December 5, 2011

Guide to Recruiting and Retaining Winning Students like a charter

notyetLAUSD’s Public School Guide to Recruiting and Retaining Winning Students

LAUSD is failing miserably at competing for students.  Tamar Galatzan got it right in her recent LA times op-ed piece declaring thing is clear: If LAUSD wants to compete for students, and if it wants to survive and thrive as a system it needs to encourage reform, innovation and excellence at every school, from every teacher and every principal. It needs to champion reform, from the inside out.”  LAUSD needs to reform how it competes for students.  Currently LAUSD just sits on its laurels and lets students just come to them. The goal of notyetLAUSD is to teach students in the public, not every member of the public, they can go to notyetCharter schools.

 In the spirit of best practices notyetLAUSD is taking a page from Charter Schools; to train administrators and teachers on how to recruit and retain winning students.  Many charter schools send their teachers and administrators into the community to recruit students to their schools when they first open.  This is notyetLAUSD’s guide to be distributed to every teacher and administrator so they can become highly effective recruiters.

Where to recruit.  Did you ever see that Kevin Bacon movie where he goes to Africa to find the next basketball star because tall people are found in Africa?  Its like that.  LAUSD is Africa and our teachers and administrators are thousands of Kevin Bacons searching for the right families.  Like Kevin Bacon who knew that going to the tribal parts of Africa would yield the best talent, our talent scouts need to know where to look.

Single Family vs Apartments. Avoid apartments and converted houses.When buying a home you quickly learn that a single family home on a block with apartments is worth less than one built on a street with other single family homes.  Single family homes even in poor neighborhoods are still more valuable than apartments. Single family homes are typically the more affluent working poor, and if your lucky you will knock on a door where one parent is able to stay home.  Single family residencies are more likely to yield involved parents.

Clean lawns.  Look at the front of a house. Messy houses are usually run by people whose lives are a mess and their kids are a mess too.  

Network.  Once you find a single family where one parent can stay home make sure to network with this parent, look for other families to contact and for areas to avoid.  One well connected stay at home parent can give you a road map to fulfill your quota of contacts.

Know your section 8 housing. This should be pretty simple.  While section 8 parents might have more free time to volunteer, there is a reason they have that free time.  Use your networking skills from above to help determine these houses, usually they are  apartments anyway.

Bring your Bibles.  Every once in a while you come to a seemingly nice house and the front looks inviting, but as soon as you go inside you see the picture of a kid in a wheelchair.  The best solution is here it to pretend to be part of some church.  Instead of talking about your school, pull out a bible.  If by accident you already started talking about your school, make up something about how the accommodations would be better served at another school.

Don’t walk up any ramps.  A house with a ramp means a wheel chair and a wheel chair means an IEP.  You want to stay away from families with IEPs because these kids cost lots of money, money that would otherwise go towards your annual test score performance bonus pay.  You bring in one IEP student and there goes tens of thousands of dollars from the bonus pool.  Besides its better that all the IEP kids go to one or two IEP schools where they have the cost advantage to buy in bulk.

Foster Kids.  No

Timing is essential.  You will want to do your recruiting right after school lets out for the summer and right before the start of the year.  Parents with money and thus those who can afford additional opportunities for students will send their kids off in the middle of the summer.  The two weeks of vacation that bookend the start and end of the school year are great times to show up to a house and assess the students who answer the door.  

Policy Change:  First LAUSD needs to end the neighborhood school clause that mandates students be given guaranteed placement in their neighborhood school.  By eliminating neighborhood schools we free public schools from the shackles of lazy parents who aren’t willing to compete for their child’s education.

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