Rule number one: Tell the truth

ashtray photo

Smoking and attending a bad school
have a lot in common. Though one isn't addictive.
(Photo by Monik Markuso)

Here’s a conundrum for those of us who believe
in empowering parents: Gobs of them continue to enroll John Jr. and little
Stacey in failing neighborhood schools instead of seeking out the charter down
the way or the magnet across town. Or they cling to their academically dismal
charter schools, fighting “the Man” to keep them open even when all indicators
point to the need for them to be shutdown or replaced. And reporting
school-performance data has done little to loosen their embrace of these
schools: Parents either aren’t aware of the data (which is often buried deep on
the state education-department websites)—or they just don’t care much about
them. To help pry these parents away from no-good schools, James Merriman (CEO
of the NYC Charter School Center) offers a novel proposal: Require such schools’ enrollment materials to carry
the equivalent of a cigarette-box warning label: “This school may be
hazardous to your child’s educational health
.” That’s a good start, but charter authorizers (and
districts for that matter) should draw more directly from and
other anti-smoking campaigns: Bombard parents with information. Send home
flyers, put up banners in the schools, buy ad space on local buses. Show parents
not only the performance of their children’s schools but that of those in close
proximity. It’s time to move the news on bad schools from “available” and
“accessible” to “acquired.”

Bad Charters Stay Open, Parents Deserve a Warning
,” by James Merriman, Eduwonk Blog, October 7, 2011.