Public Schools Turn to Marketing to Win Back Students From Charters

Tawnell Hobbs:

Billboards, glossy mailers and ads at movie theaters here promote the offerings available at public schools. In Los Angeles, dozens of 8-foot-high banners with photos of college-bound students line a busy road, targeting families with school-age children.

Westonka Public Schools in Minnesota sends parents a baby bag filled with a district-logoed bib, a welcome letter from the superintendent and a course catalog.

In an era of school choice, with charter schools and even other districts threatening to cut into their enrollments and funding, traditional public schools are fighting back with expensive marketing campaigns and retooled offerings to appeal to students. Some schools are even adopting the fancy uniforms associated with charters.