Selling parents on public school

No where is the declining value of human life more clear than in the euphemistic language of corporate America. Employees are referred to as "human capital," equating them with the numbers and dollar signs in the corporate ledgers. Companies are "downsized" and positions "outsourced." "Human resources" mines the company and the applicant pool to fill positions. The rest of us are "markets" to be explored and conquered. Marx called this "alienation of labor." I see it more as a natural side effect of too much government regulation (the more a market is regulated, the more difficult it is to enter into and thus compete. This causes the capital to increasingly be controlled by fewer and fewer people, often stockholders with little interest in anything the company does other than the stocks it delivers).

Now the philosophy is entering the public schools, as well. It seems, our public schools are in crisis and being attacked from all sides. School violence and concerns over academics have encouraged many parents to take a look at other options. Some scrape together what they can to send their children to a private school, many enter into "lotteries" to send their children to a charter school and, increasingly, many turn to homeschooling. Nationwide, enrollment in public schools is declining. But in the public school, dollars are gained through maintaining student attendance.

Competition is a good thing. I think some of the pressures being placed on our public schools through the availability of other options helps to spur needed reforms and reconsiderations of the standard models of instruction. And when something is working for one school, it is natural and commendable for other schools to study it and adopt what will work for them. But I would really like those changes to be integral to how the school is being managed, how students and parents are being treated and how lessons are being taught. Not about something as superficial as marketing strategies.

Facing declining enrollment and the possibility of having to cut teachers, Strong John Thompson Elementary in downtown Washington, D.C. formed a marketing committee to aggressively compete for students.
"It's increasingly important for principals to see how they can effectively reach out to other markets," Superintendent Clifford B. Janey said.
Other markets. Our children. And it appears all they have to offer is the same product in a nicer package.

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