I'm going to step out on a limb here...you see I'm not a teacher (to borrow a Holiday Inn Express line) but I know some and had children in public schools. That being said, I am concerned with the recent data released this week from the National Assessment Governing Board and reported in the Des Moines Register.
In a nutshell the report tells us that Iowa students, who twenty years ago ranked in the top national percentages in reading and math, have slipped to the "middle of the pack". And, it's across the board, white kids, minority kids, rural, urban... That's troubling for...business and it should concern you.
I don't have an answer as to "what to do". I'll leave that up to Jason Glass the Iowa Education Director. However, as a "life long learner" who is fascinated with consumer trends let me offer up some marketing advice to all sides:
- It Isn't Political - There are some folks who will latch on to this information and run to their partisan corner of the world pointing fingers at the other corner. Stop it. Consumers, the public, are sick and tired of that behavior.
- Consumers Want Action - It doesn't matter if you're talking about telephone service or education. Consumers do not understand how it is that hundreds of administrators, often without field experience, can tell the grunts how and what to do. It ends in non-action and that is frustrating.
- Be Simple - If you can explain "education reform" in thirty-seconds do this: Film the answer and get it in front of as many people as possible. We want answers.
- Be Honest - Education doesn't have to be "fun"...it has to be "interesting" but if children spend six hours in an interesting classroom and go home to an "emotional wreck" with stressed a stressed out parent(s) it doesn't work. There is a direct tie between economics and education.
- Old Isn't Better, It's Different - It's not time to say, "When I was a kid..." it is time to look at how we use technology in the classroom and in the home. When the folks that are writing the lesson plans don't understand how technology works...how can it work for students?
- Parents - When will somebody start a media campaign that looks into the camera and asks how much time you, as a parent, work with your kids...learning? This isn't all the responsibility of "somebody else". Seriously...if companies can spend millions selling a new beer to consumers can't we find a way to sell the idea of responsibility to parents?
I'm just a marketer, a guy who creates desire among consumers. Maybe its' time to create a desire for learning. More rules, more tests and more politics don't seem to work well... Sorry for the musings...it just bothers me.