Saturday, May 19, 2018

Cash Incentives for Charter School Recruitment: Unethical Bribe or Shrewd Marketing Technique?

Cash Incentives for Charter School Recruitment: Unethical Bribe or Shrewd Marketing Technique?:

CASH INCENTIVES FOR CHARTER SCHOOL RECRUITMENT: UNETHICAL BRIBE OR SHREWD MARKETING TECHNIQUE?



IN CASH-STRAPPED SCHOOL districts, where traditional public schools and charters compete over funds, schools face acute financial pressure to attract and retain students. In recent years, some charter schools have discreetly turned to a controversial recruitment strategy: offering low-income families cash stipends or other prizes in exchange for drawing new students into their schools.
The practice is a not-much-discussed part of the school choice debate, and it’s not well-known how widespread it is either. This is in large part because schools are typically under no obligation to report it. Critics say these incentives amount to unethical bribes targeting primarily low-income families, though defenders say they’re just shrewd marketing techniques.
The KIPP charter network is one of the largest and most prestigious charter school networks across the country. In December 2016, KIPP Adelante, a San Diego charter, sent a newsletter out to enrolled families offering substantial cash stipends to those who could help recruit new fifth graders to their school.
The promotion read:
If you know a 5th grader at another school and you get them to come to school here, you will receive a premium of $500 to offset your child’s educational expenses. In addition, the family you bring to KIPP Adelante will receive a premium of $100 (also for educational expenses) for enrolling their child here. Bring two 5th Graders to the school – get $1000! These students have to attend our school for at least 2 weeks before you can collect your premium.
A former KIPP Adelante teacher shared the newsletter with The Intercept, troubled by the ad targeting a school where 99 percent of students enrolled are children of color, and 98 percent qualify for free-and-reduced-price lunch.
That same year, the school offered a smaller cash incentive program to KIPP Adelante employees to help recruit fifth graders. The specific drive to recruit those students can be explained by the school’s unique makeup. In San Diego, elementary schools tend to go through the fifth grade, with Continued Reading; Cash Incentives for Charter School Recruitment: Unethical Bribe or Shrewd Marketing Technique?:

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