Public Schools Must do Better at Selling Themselves

Judy Hartnett's picture
Monday, April 30, 2012

Administrators of traditional public schools must see the decline and potential demise of the U.S. Postal Service and shudder.A government bureaucracy clinging to relevance after being outsmarted and outhustled by private competitors. That could be our schools in the not too distant future.

Walt Griffin, the newly selected superintendent of Seminole County schools, knows it."We've never had to compete like this before," Griffin said. "That has just never been a part of our business for decades."

It'll be up to Griffin and other Central Florida superintendents, such as Barbara Jenkins, who will take over soon in Orange County, to make sure traditional public schools don't go the way of the obsolete post office. And it's going to take an approach that is more Steve Jobs than Stephen Hawking.

This is a moment in which the kind of academic and theoretical introspection the famous physicist might prescribe won't stand a chance. We need the bold risk-taking, original thinking and sense of urgency that made the Apple co-founder famous.

And then the schools need to take that innovation and sell it in a way that helps reverse the trend of falling or flat enrollment. Because they certainly aren't going to get any help from the state on that front.

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