Brooklyn Charter School Targets Rich, White Parents, Enrollment Plan Shows
BROOKLYN — If you want to be a citizen of the world, it helps to be rich.
Though it's moving into a school where more than 90 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunch, the controversial Los Angeles-based Citizens of the World Charter school is actively recruiting affluent families for its first year in Crown Heights, DNAinfo.com New York has learned.
What's more, the primary engagement strategy for its New York flagship school in Williamsburg is geared almost exclusively at white parents, according to an internal enrollment plan obtained by DNAinfo.
"Through targeted outreach and recruitment, our schools are intentionally designed to reflect their surrounding communities and the larger society in terms of race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status," the charter network says on its website.
But the New York enrollment memo seems to directly contradict that statement, with the most time and resource-intensive recruitment tools clearly aimed at a small pocket of affluent families, while cheap, low-impact tactics like handing out fliers reserved for Headstarts and churches where recruiters are instructed to "lean towards" black and Hispanic families.
A chart titled CSD 14 Priorities lists the recruiters' top strategy as "engaging core parent group" and describes the target of that strategy as "middle/upper income, predominantly white."
In District 17, the top priority is to "create core foundation of contacts," a strategy again targeted exclusively at "middle/upper income" parents.
Roughly half of the engagement strategies outlined in the memo are specifically intended to attract those same targets.
One-on-one parent meetings and one-on-one meetings with local pre-schools are saved for "middle/upper income" groups, whereas Headstarts are earmarked for flyering and group info sessions.
Where local preschools and Headstart programs were tough to differentiate, as in Crown Heights, recruiters are cautioned that not all may be "hot targets."
It's not just the paperwork that's skewed to exclude in Crown Heights — the charter's parent information session was held at the Brooklyn Public Library's Central Branch, more than two miles from P.S. 221 but a stone's throw from the district's wealthiest parents in Prospect Heights.
While Citizens showers its attention on affluent families, parents at P.S. 221 say they've barely heard from the school.
"There’s been no community outreach or interaction," one mother of three who declined to give her name for fear of losing her job told DNAinfo in March.
"We heard them speak for about two minutes — that’s been the breadth of our interaction with the folks at Citizens."
Citizens of the World did not immediately respond to repeated calls for comment.