The Washington Post

‘Say this, not that': A slick PR guide to selling charter schools by key charter group

It appears as if the charter school sector believes that it needs to better hone its public messaging. At its recent annual convention, the National Alliance for Public Charter School handed out an 18-page “Charter School Messaging Notebook” that actually has sections that include, “Say This, Not That,” and “Who Are ‘Our People?’ ” (See below for the entire notebook).

The notebook was published by public education advocate Jennifer Berkshire on her Edushyster blog, and a spokesperson for the charter school alliance said the guide was handed out at last month’s convention. It was written by the Glover Park Group, a communications firm founded by former Clinton-Gore aides Joe Lockhart and Carter Eskew, to help charter supporters “fine-tune the messaging” they use when they talk or write about charter schools.

The Table of Contents includes sections on “Defining Charter Schools,” “Nine Positive Messages About Charter Schools, and “Who Are Our People?'” In the “Say This, Not That” section, it is suggested that people:


Apparently the words on the right side of the list, the stuff not to say, sends out too corporate a message about the reality of many charter schools today.

As you might expect, the guide doesn’t mention that most charter schools don’t do any better than traditional public schools when it comes to standardized test scores, which is the metric school reformers seem to care most about. Nor does it mention any of the scandals surrounding charter schools now rocking the sector,  such as a Detroit Free-Press investigation that found that the state spends $1 billion annually on charter schools in Michigan with little accountability.

It does encourage charter supporters to emphasize that charter schools are open to all students — even though some charters actually counsel out difficult students and overall have a lower percentage of English Language Learners and children with severe disabilities than traditional schools. And so on.


Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.

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