By Dr. William Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist
On April 25th Richmond will launch a campaign to attract students to the city schools. The mayor and superintendent have joined forces to inform Richmond residents about the merits of the schools that they own.
While marketing is a term that is usually associated with the private sector, it is now becoming a tool that is used by public schools as well. Should public funds be used to sell public institutions to the public?
Lawrie Drysdale, the author of "the Evolution of Marketing: Implications for Schools" has written that marketing techniques "now appear to be appropriate for schools as they face increased levels of complexity, instability, and competition."
In Michigan, numerous superintendents have hired marketing professionals to design campaigns that will sell the schools to families that have chosen charter or other options under the public schools of choice legislation.
So what's different? Historically school divisions have employed "public information officers", not public relations or marketing specialists. But times have changed. Private and charter schools are growing and educators are arguing that funding for public schools is eroding. In reality, competition is growing and the public schools realize that they can no longer rely on compulsory attendance to provide a market share.
In Richmond, 150 students returning to the public schools could generate $1M more in state funding thus increasing the resources for the schools and/or decreasing the support required by the City.
And then there is the issue of quality. Great marketing can sell anything for a time, but sustained support requires results. Richmond has much to praise but if they are to increase their enrollment -- and revenue -- they must also increase their performance.