Wednesday, October 29, 2014

RePublic charter schools called me at work

I typically get no personal calls on my land line office phone, because I do not give that phone number out for personal reasons except in urgent and emergent situations. For instance, I give the number to my daughter's elementary school in case they need to call me and cannot reach me at my personal cell or land lines.

After several years with my current employer, I may have received a couple of phone calls from my wife on occasions were I forgot to power up my cell, but I have never received a solicitation phone call at work until the end of last month.

I received a call at work in September from a recruiter from the Nashville Academy of Computer Science part of a network of privatized charter schools called RePublic Schools co-founded by former Obama campaigner Ravi Gupta. The recruiter invited me to enroll my daughter in his academy. When I asked him how he got my work number he told me that his institution received parent contact information from Metro Nashville Public Schools.

Our daughter has not been a public school student in about a year and a half for reasons I have explained. When I gave MNPS my work contact information it was with the understanding that our primary number was our home land line, but that the work number was an "in case of emergency" number. Obviously, there was no longer any need for MNPS to even have my work number, given our previous understanding and the fact that she is now a private school student.

So, why is Metro Nashville Public Schools giving contact information, on which I have placed restrictions, to private institutions to sell me enrollment? Does this not undermine the goal of having sensitive, restricted phone numbers available when extreme situations demand contacting parents by any means necessary? When public school parents find out that MNPS casually hands out work phone numbers without their consent, are they not less likely to share that information with MNPS (thus making contact more difficult)? Should MNPS be in the position of using public resources to manage a marketing database with sensitive contact info for private corporations?

We left MNPS because of the creeping resource drain of privatization, which now seems to be in full flower. The phone call dripped with irony.

Acquisitive school reformers seem fond of using terms like "disrupt," which they insist challenges entrenched bureaucracy and regulations to do something different in education. They label what they do "innovation." Yet, it is clear to me that Nashville Academy of Computer Science is also willing to disrupt the lives individual parents to hawk their product. How innovative is that?

And their partner is MNPS, which seems fine with luring us back to a system where public education funding is given away to private corporations in exchange for getting a few kids to college and careers instead of educating everyone.

1 comment:

  1. Agree 100%. MNPS should not give out phone numbers. If this were a legal request for documents to the public, the phone numbers would be redacted.

    I don't blame the charter school so much, as that's what they need to do to attract students. I don't like it, but the school is like a child and MNPS should position itself as the grown-up in the room.

    This, at the same time that MNPS is withholding documents related to the East Nashville free-for-all in charter/choice schools. Why withholding documents? Because the redacting of private/confidential information is taking longer than anticipated!