The Wall Street Journal has a piece today on how urban school districts around the country have launched marketing programs to lure students back from charters and neighboring districts after having lost large portions of their enrollment.
This is the first step in their 12-step program — acknowledging that they have a problem and need to do something about it. For all of you folks out there who doubt that public schools respond to competitive pressure (Rick Hess, Sol Stern, Mike Petrilli, Kevin Carey, etc…), how do you explain this response?
I know, I know they might respond that marketing is not a real response in that it does not involve actually improving school quality. That’s true, but if the schools are doing things to improve, how would anyone know about it if the schools don’t market their strengths?
And I would agree that a marketing campaign is not a sufficient response, but it is an important sign that they are noticing the competition and experiencing pain from losing enrollment. They’ve acknowledge that there is a power higher than them… and it is the customer.