We ARE Succeeding in Educating our Nation's Youth March 3, 2011 10:00 AM | Tagged as promoting your school success, public relations for schools
Do you ever get tired of the barrage of negative coverage by the naysayers of American education? It is not surprising that the books, movies, and articles that get all of the attention are those that are the most adversarial to education since the media believes it is what we want to see, hear, and read—drama and controversy. Personally, I think education is merely a convenient target to blame things on. Parents can blame schools, politicians can blame the opposing party’s “reform” efforts, and tax payers can resent the costs to educate our nation’s children. Since we can’t legislate solid, stable families that support and promote educational values—we have a handy fall guy. Blame our educational institutions.
Call me Pollyanna, but I’m convinced that by NOT discussing and celebrating the educational success achieved in this country we sorely affect our national morale and pride. We spend more time trying to find someone to blame than working together to solve the problems that do exist. Working with educators, administrators, and dedicated school staff members every day gives me an excellent view from the outside looking in at what goes on behind the scenes in schools—and the success being enjoyed by our nation’s children. That doesn’t mean there aren’t gaps that everyone is aware of, which are being addressed (maybe not as quickly as we might like). But to focus only on the gaps is a terrible mistake. As the Pulitzer Prize-winner author David McCullough has said, “We are losing our story, forgetting who we are and what it’s taken to come this far….” In my humble opinion, we’ve come a long way, baby.
This blog isn’t offering scientific proof that all educational goals are being met, but with all the daily successes within the walls of our public, private, and charter schools, there is nothing wrong with a pat on the back. What articles I find in the media and online seem in stark contrast to the reality we witness daily in our dealings with hundreds of schools as their webmasters—as we see the dedication and success happening in small and large schools across the U.S.
In spite of the challenges our schools face with degraded family structures, economic woes, and overwhelming bureaucratic mandates, our history tells us we are educating more students (up from 8% to nearly 17%). The U.S. created the world’s first system of collective public education, which is one of this nation’s greatest achievements. Compared to students in other countries, American student learning is holding steady—while enrollment increases at every level. We have more students than ever taking national tests and showing improvement. A third of those taking the SAT in 1997 were minority students—up from 22% ten years earlier and those numbers continue to rise. A few decades ago many minority students weren’t taking these tests. Many of the problems facing schools today can only be fixed with the help of our communities so it is important to get them on our side.
What I think we miss by only discussing the challenges and not the successes is the fact that the belief that we can achieve, on a personal or national level, is what has made this country the success that it is today. We need to remember how far we’ve come—not ignoring where we are going, of course—but recognizing the spirit of democracy. With it comes enthusiasm and encouragement, not discouragement and apathy. In short…stop listening to the negativity and just do a better job of sharing your successes to turn the tide of public opinion in the favor of American education’s reputation. Celebrate your successes by sharing them with your publics. Whether you like it or not, if you are an administrator or an educator, you are now in the business of marketing--marketing your school, your profession, and your goals to educate our nation's youth. And doing so will be well worth the effort.
What are some examples of what you or your school are doing to get the good word out about how we are winning the battle to educate U.S. students—regardless of the challenges faced? For some ideas to try, be sure you are signed up to receive our monthly newsletter!
Interesting Article: School Work: "The Overblown Crisis in American Education" by Nicholas Lemann "The New Yorker"
Posted in Communication, marketing your school, Public Relations | 0 Replies
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