Pittsburgh schools drop ‘public’

Pittsburgh Public Schools will drop “public” from the district name to improve its image and add “Pittsburgh” before the name of all its schools. The district will call itself “Pittsburgh Schools.” It also will begin using “Excellence for All” on all stationery and other written materials.

Under the new policy, Sterrett Classical Academy will be called Pittsburgh Sterrett. But the school’s traditional name still will be used — albeit in smaller print — on stationery and other printed materials.

. . . By dropping “public” from its name, Randall Taylor said, the district might be able to avoid the negative attitude often associated with public schools.

Oh yeah, that’ll work. I wonder how much they paid a consultant for this bright idea. And how much they’ll spend on new stationery.

Via This Week in Education.

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  1. Jason Bontrager says:

    Sympathetic magic. Change the name and you change the nature of the thing being named.

    Of course that doesn’t actually *work*, but it’s not about results, it’s all about intentions.

  2. Ragnarok says:

    Perhaps they should carry this idea through to its logical conclusion: renaming the school itself?

    I understand that NY City has an excellent HS called Stuyvesant. Why not call each HS in Pittsburgh Stuyvesant #1, Stuyvesant #2 and so on? Surely that would do the trick.

  3. Do they have to use their city’s name? They could try Cleveland on for size and use the motto, “Our Cleveland Public Schools are better than Cleveland’s Cleveland Public Schools”, which has a very positive sound to it.

  4. More in the way of diverting criticism by claiming that the new name means there’s something new in the box. There isn’t but the confusion and uncertainty buys some time.

    If the public is starting to lose faith in the public education system then it’s liable to take a while for people to notice that nothing but the name’s been changed. In politics a problem delayed is a problem solved.

  5. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”

    It works in reverse, too.

  6. Deirdre Mundy says:

    Obviously, when parents who have a choice (many don’t, so they won’t be influenced by rebranding anyway) look at a school, the most important thing is the name.

    Not the curriculum,the test scores, the staff and the other students already enrolled there.

    Because the name is what REALLY influences school quality.

    Maybe they should rebrand the worst school in the city “Exeter” and make its motto “An uppercrust New England Education at Rust-Belt Prices!” –I’m sure that would IMMEDIATELY make it a more successful school! =)

  7. superdestroyer says:

    A side comment to the naming of schools.

    In Texas, the media always refers to a school by its city and then its name. It is Dallas Carter, Southlake Carroll, or Odessa Permian. However, the students nor the school itself would ever refer to it the same way.

    I have not seen many other states where this occurs. I guess it is due to the way that the football teams are referred to by the media.

  8. Tom West says:

    Obviously, when parents who have a choice (many don’t, so they won’t be influenced by rebranding anyway) look at a school, the most important thing is the name.

    Well, in fact product name *is* critical in consumer decisions.

    Quite frankly, if Pittsburgh public schools feel that they need to be competitive to their customers, I’d say this is a *good* thing. The next step (which they may or may not be taking) is to make internal changes to improve the product.

  9. Lou Gots says:

    I don’t know; this sounds pretty gay.

  10. Here’s a stupid question: how much is all that new stationary going to cost?

    Enough to maybe improve those schools just a little? (another stupid question)

    Slogans of optimism might produce confidence and even self-confidence in students but if the school doesn’t live up to the hype really quickly then the only usefulness of such slogans is in the teaching of irony — and skepticism and mistrust and cynicism.

  11. Andy Freeman says:

    How about they fix the schools THEN fix the name?

    Changing names to deceive is fraud – the old name earned its bad rep.

  12. If ADman image weasels think that “Image” equals “Quality”, why not change the name to: “Pittsburgh Premium Schools”

  13. Ah yes. This sort of thing brings up a question I often ask regarding my district administrators when such world-changing new educational concepts are foisted on unsuspecting teachers and students: “Don’t these people have any real work to do?”

  14. Ok, I find all of this hype over a simple name change ridiculous. If parents and the media put as much time and effort into the much needed changes within the school system, something would have been done years ago. Change involves time and patience; you have to take care of the small problems first before you even attempt to attack the larger ones.