Teacher tenure refugees flee public schools

James Richardson:

When public school administrators and teachers in Washington, D.C., recently laced up their sensible shoes and launched an unprecedented canvassing campaign to goose slumped enrollment rates, the panicked affectation was unmistakable.

Short of horse-drawn carriage makers, few industries have suffered such a pronounced decline in market share than government-run schools in America’s urban centers. Consider the numbers: forty-four percent of the District’s public student population has abandoned conventional neighborhood schools for public charters.

But while the taxpayer-financed campaign was designed to signal fresh responsiveness to parents, the effort merely reinforced the perception that entrenched teachers and labor unions were braving the sweltering heat out of self-interest. No students means no jobs.

Here, where traditional public school enrollment has dipped by 30,000 students in just the last 18 years, administrators believe the key to stemming the exodus of public school refugees lies in diverting precious resources from improving instruction to marketing.

To augment the hard sell being made door-to-door by principals, the school system even retained the pricey data miners who twice won the White House for President Barack Obama.