In 7 districts, 30% of students are in charters

More urban students are choosing charter schools, according to a new National Alliance for Public Charter Schools report. In seven school districts, 30 percent of public school students are enrolled in charter schools; in 25 districts, 20 percent are in charters and at least 10 percent are attending charters in 110 districts.

New Orleans is the number one charter city: 76 percent of students enrolled in charter schools in 2011-12,, up from 70 percent the year before. Also in the 30+ percent range are Detroit, Washington D.C., Kansas City (Missouri), Flint, Gary, and St. Louis.

Nationwide, charter schools enroll more than two million students with an increase of  200,000 students in 2011-12.

Georgians voted to expand charter schools in the November election. Now Superintendent John Barge plans to “brand” public schools in marketing campaign titled “Georgia’s Future. Now!” reports Education Week.

“A lot of folks don’t know the good things going on because we historically don’t do a good job telling them about it,” Barge said.

The effort . . . includes old-fashioned outreach: printed literature, knickknacks with a logo, a speaker’s bureau of teachers to address community groups. If enough private money is raised, it also will feature a Web TV comedy series — with hopes of the show being broadcast on Georgia Public Television — titled “Modern Teacher.” Styled after the television series “Modern Family,” it depicts life in a Georgia school.

Competition is healthy, but I doubt knickknacks will be effective with Georgians. The comedy series is a creative idea, but these things require very good writing.

Surprise! Engineering beats English in pay

Surprise! Engineering graduates earn more than liberal arts grads, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Graduates with engineering degrees averaged $56,000 in their first full-time jobs out of college, compared to $34,000 for Communications and English majors. Computer science majors start at $50,000.

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The PayScale survey included 11,000 people who graduated between 1999 and 2010. The reported starting pay was adjusted for inflation to make the salaries of graduates from different years comparable.

While accounting and economics majors do fairly well in their first job, business and marketing majors don’t earn much more than social sciences and liberal arts majors.

The analysis looks at starting pay for people with four-year degrees. It does not look at pay for people who earn master’s or professional degrees.

Schools pay to advertise

Tired of losing students to charter schools, private schools and suburban alternatives, urban districts are hiring marketing consultants and running ads, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Administrators say they are working hard to improve academics — but it can’t hurt to burnish their image as well. 

The are recording radio ads, filming TV infomercials and buying address lists for direct-mail campaigns. Other efforts, by both districts and individual schools, call for catering Mexican dinners for potential students, making sales pitches at churches and hiring branding experts to redesign logos.

“Schools are really getting that they can’t just expect students to show up any more,” said Lisa Relou, who directs marketing efforts for the Denver Public Schools. “They have to go out and recruit.”

Some charter schools also run ads to recruit students — including boasting of higher graduation rates than district-run schools. But KIPP decided that recruitment ads make a school sound “desperate.”
Advertising can backfire if the public decides a district is wasting money on image that could have been spent on substance.