Fighting Poverty with Passion
October is an important month for charter schools; the OneApp opens in November and the first round of families will be choosing a school for their children. Hence, it’s important for a charter school, not unlike any other brand, to get their name out there and present themselves as an attractive option for parents.
Marketing isn’t really my cup of tea so I pretty much struggled through the whole process. My first thought was to redesign our website because it’s fairly bland and not really indicative of an arts-integrated school like Plessy. Moreover, it’s rather important for us to have a stylish website since it is often a parent’s first exposure to Plessy. However, websites aren’t as easy I thought and even though I had the go-ahead to spend a little money on it, I was too wary of screwing the whole thing up that I reserved my contribution to minor tweaks. I’m not giving up the dream of completely retooling the site. However, I am looking for someone with more expertise to possibly restore the website in case my ambition turns into catastrophe.
Other marketing endeavors included tabling recruitment events and distributing flyers to local businesses. Throughout this process I was continually seated with an uncomfortable feeling of dissatisfaction.
Just a year ago, I would never have imagined that a public school would need to advertise itself. In most of the country you know the public schools in your district. You know from your elementary years where you’re going to middle school then high school. New Orleans is strangely different. There is little certainty in the public school system. Your school isn’t even guaranteed to be open next year.
This isn’t to say that the charter school system here is ineffective (this isn’t to say that it is effective either). I will hold off making a judgment until I feel I know exactly how this system is affecting the children of New Orleans.
Anyway, on to another topic that caused me a stir in my stomach: The Scholastic Book Fair. Besides the fact that I had to organize it all by myself after a ton of books and a cash register showed up at the school one morning, the Scholastic book fair experience was not a great one.
After figuring out that the seemingly bottomless box of princess books didn’t have a single non-white princess on a cover, I decided that it was probably best to retire the princess books into the corner so as not to be seen by the predominantly non-white demographic of the school. It was a bit disturbing to get something so indicative of the pervasiveness of racism right at Plessy’s doorstep. However, luckily the rest of the books didn’t reflect the princess section.
However, they were out of the price range of the majority of students, who were just as eager to purchase a book as the kids with enough money. So I did my best Suzy Orman impression and told them they couldn’t afford it. But in all seriousness, it felt terrible. Added to that was the fact that the kids thought it was me who set the prices. All in all, it inspired me to start planning a used book fair for the spring where books range from free to a dollar. The book fair also raised over $400 for the school so it wasn’t all terrible.