Marketing a school system will not reverse the financial drain that comes from losing students to other school districts because of school choice.
By Spyro Mitrokostas
The problem with this approach is that you always get less in return than you give up. Think about it. If a student chooses another school, it is for a better product. The students that choose to leave a district have correctly identify themselves as better students. Otherwise, why would they want to leave?
What then does a school get in return if it advertises?
Schools with a net outflow of students have a problem that advertising can not fix. Their product is deemed to be inferior. Superior consumers are leaving for a better product. To the degree they can get some other consumers to buy the product, those students are inferior to the students that left in the first place.
Do this for a couple of cycles and the process becomes self fulfilling. Test scores, the measure of the product, decline further and students continue to leave. It becomes harder and more expensive to attract new students, who eventually stop moving into the system all together.
It's better to do nothing.
The only way to address the problem is by fixing the product. Create a better product that the consumers; students and their parents want. Then students will not only not leave, but the school might even experience some net gains in the future.
This is exactly what the Tech schools did. It took them a generation to do it, but creating a curriculum that good students wanted, turned them into the dynamos that students have to compete to get into today.
This is what the Charter schools promise. They concentrate on curriculums, not Gymnacafetoriums. Parents want their kids there for the end result; test scores. With an aptly called lottery to get in, it's like winning the lottery if they do.
So put the marketing plans away. Stop looking at students as vouchers. Hire a superintendent, principals and teachers who are more interested in teaching than retiring. Compete for the students who will want to stay put, not the ones who will come with cash.