Let’s face it, with the passage of Jindal’s latest education bills, traditional public schools are about to be out of business. We will have a chaotic influx of unregulated charter and non-public school clamoring to open up shop, 21st century gold rush style, to “mine” our students for their MFP dollars — Louisiana education gold.
Now like any new start-up, they are bound to make some newbie mistakes. It’s inevitable really, and with minimal oversight and loose or non-existent regulations being touted as an incentive to open up shop here, who can blame them? Fortunately we’ve had some pioneers here for a while, blazing a trail and creating a lesson plan, if you will, on how to operate with maximum profitability and minimal risk of doing worse that the traditional public schools. (Somehow many of them still managed to do worse but fortunately your actual performance isn’t important for the current narrative to carry you forward for the time being.) I’d like to share some tips with you newcomers, so you can get right down to the business of skimming the best and brightest students and weeding out the less profitable ones.
First Lesson: Dissuade Special Education students form enrolling
Special Education students cost more to educate than regular ed students. You will get some extra money for taking on these students, but be very careful. If you take any of the moderate or severely disabled students your bottom-line and test score average will be impacted because the extra money won’t come close to covering your costs. If you find out during an interview with a parent that a child has a severe disability make sure to throw in a few disparaging remarks about your own Special Education program. Such as: “We hope to get a SPED teacher sometime this year, but so far haven’t had much luck.” Or “We have a great Special Ed teacher. She’s usually only here 2 days a week what with her stripping job and all, but when she’s not hungover she’s great with the kids!”
Now, if all of your gentle hints do nothing to dissuade the parent in front of you, no worries. Just enroll the child and don’t provide any SPED services. Be sure to make plenty of good excuses and don’t outright claim you will never hire someone, but eventually the parent will take the hint and move on. If the student happens to stay through an MFP count that’s a double victory! Just make sure they are gone before test time. See my next section on “Discipline Coercion” for additional tips on how to convince your SPED family to move on.
Second Lesson: Discipline Coercion
Sometimes, as a matter of course, you will get a student who is having some academic difficulty or emotional problems. This student may be having trouble concentrating and may be causing other students to be distracted. If you find out the student should probably be classified as 504 that’s another big red flag, and potential problem for keeping your test scores high and discipline problems low. Fortunately, we have just the solution for you. Once you have determined it’s time for this student to go, make sure you threaten to expel him or send him off to an alternative school. If you have a zero tolerance policy in place, or some sort of parent/student contract you had them sign when they enrolled, make sure you list one of the remedies for improper behavior as asking the student to leave. Promise if they leave you will not document the discipline action and they will feel grateful and move along. For maximum funding and minimal SPS score downside, be sure to have this situation come to a head after the MFP count but before testing occurs, if possible. Don’t worry about this student though, any remaining traditional public schools will have to take him. If you managed to kick him out after you got the MFP dollars, so much the better!
Third Lesson: Up-sell the competition/Downplay yourself
If you find out during an interview that the student is not going to fit into your ideal student profile, for any reason, simply talk up another school and point the student and parent there. If the student is likely to want a career diploma and you specialize in college bound students, make sure you tell them about the vocational education academy down the street. You might also complain about some aspect of you own facilities so as to seem less desirable to an applicant: this way they will go away of their own volition and feel like you did them a favor!
Fourth and final Lesson for today: No room at the Inn
If all your more subtle efforts fail but you really don’t want a student to enroll, simply insist that there are no spots currently available. You an promise to put him on a non-existent waiting list if that will get you some breathing room. This is best done in a private setting so as not to dissuade other more desirable applicants from applying after your undesirable one leaves.
I’m sure our newcomers will come up with some new innovations for sluicing out their funding nuggets, but why make them reinvent the pan in the meantime?