Something a bit odd is happening in Michigan. Public school districts are advertising . . . in newspapers, on radio, through the mail.
All sorts of enterprises advertise for customers, of course. What’s odd is that it still seems odd . . . for education.
In Michigan it’s happening because of a new set of laws regarding “schools of choice.” The state now allows school districts to accept students out of district. And this means more school choice than before.
And where there’s choice, there’s advertising.
“It’s an investment,” said Greg Byndrian, a spokesman for the Detroit Public School District, which sports a $93,000 marketing budget. “You don’t have to attract many students to recoup that,” he stated.
A charter school in Pontiac, on the other hand, eschews buying media time. But it does send fliers out in the mail, and puts up posters in two languages. Still, the school insists that most of its success in attracting students comes directly from past educational success, spread by word of mouth.
But before you wonder about how important advertising is, consider another novel idea some districts have begun to offer: customer service. They are actually training employees to help parents navigate through the school system.
There are critics of all this, of course. They think schools should concentrate on what they do best: improving education.
But [ahem], before these competitive programs, the schools weren’t improving all that much.
So, what next? Why, more competition. Of course!
”’Paul Jacob is member of the Board of Advisors for Grassroot Institute of Hawaii and an acclaimed commentator who serves as the Senior Advisor at the Sam Adams Alliance”’
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