Faced with the possibility of an exodus of students leaving to take advantage of a new voucher program, Indiana districts have launched an aggressive marketing campaign to hold on to their kids, says the Associated Press:
Struggling Indiana public school districts are buying billboard space, airing radio ads and even sending principals door-to-door in an unusual marketing campaign aimed at persuading parents not to move their children to private schools as the nation's largest voucher program doubles in size. The promotional efforts are an attempt to prevent the kind of student exodus that administrators have long feared might result from allowing students to attend private school using public money. If a large number of families abandon local districts, millions of dollars could be drained from the state's public education system. "If we don't tell people the great things that are happening in our schools, no one else will, especially not now," said Renee Albright, a teacher in Fort Wayne. "There are private enterprises that stand to benefit if they can portray us as failed schools." ... Unlike voucher programs in other states that are limited to poor families and failing school districts, the Indiana subsidies are open to a much broader range of people, including parents with a household income up to nearly $64,000 for a family of four. The median income for an Indiana family of four was just over $67,000 in 2010, making many of the state's nearly 1 million public school students eligible for vouchers.
The efforts in Indiana are mirrored in other school districts around the country that are facing competition from private schools, independently run charter schools, and other education options. I outlined some of those marketing campaigns in other districts in an article this week. Such promotional efforts, it would seem, are the wave of the future.
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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.