Demand Management for Public Schools?

September 21, 2012 at 11:18 AM Leave a comment

Public education has the mission of educating all of the nation’s children. The marketing of this government service has never been much of a consideration. However, with the development of competitive education options for children, public school districts are feeling the squeeze. How can districts attract enough students to keep their schools open?

Who would choose to send their children to neighborhood public schools? The ideal response would be, “anyone.” Sadly, in many cities and towns, that response needs to be amended to say, “Anyone who doesn’t have better options.” While there are many strong school systems across the nation, the cost of living in those communities has risen with the relative value of the education system. In more affordable communities, the quality of education has come into question, and the number of children applying to the better public schools far exceeds the number of spaces available. Even financially strapped parents are opting out of public education, choosing to home school their children or give up precious child care hours for extra jobs to pay for private school options.

The federal government has attempted to drive improvements in schools through No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. There have been pockets of success under NCLB, but far too many public schools are failing to deliver adequate results for the children. To date, educators have responded with calls for alternative measures of success, greater funding for their efforts, and expanded social programs to meet the needs of the children whose achievement is complicated by conditions of poverty, homelessness, and fractured families.

Regardless of the validity of the educators’ point of view, the public school customers are actively voting with their feet and opting out of the system. Or they are gathering in the mayor’s office to communicate the strength of their votes in the absence of remedy. Public school closings are looming because anyone with a choice tries to go to the alternative program. Districts no longer serve a captive market.

Loss of citizen support for schools must be recognized and addressed. Educators need to wake up and acknowledge the precariousness of their positions. Schools must be customer-focused, offer high quality educational services, and meet the needs of the vast majority of local citizens. Because a surprising number of constituents are proving they do have a choice.

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Entry filed under: New Parent-Teacher Paradigm, Parent-Teacher Paradigm, School Transformation.

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