Are Schools Businesses?

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Educators typically take issue when their schools are called businesses. Nearly all schools are non-profit, and educators take pride in working purely on behalf of the public good. But we are, in fact, businesses. Rather than deny reality, we should seek to embrace what other enterprises have done to succeed and incorporate them, where possible, into making our service offerings better meet the needs (current and future) of our customers. At the very least, we must learn to maximize our efficiency and effectiveness as teachers by beginning to view our schools as competitive businesses offering a precious service- namely, education.

Businesses operate by providing a product or service to their customers. Schools operate to provide education (a service) to students (customers). However, the customers are not actually students but rather parents, guardians, and families. Less evidently, taxpayers are the most important, yet often forgotten, customers of education as we all know that an educated public is a safer, more affluent, and happier one. If we are to acknowledge this, should we not expand our schools’ service offerings to not just educating adolescents between the ages of five and eighteen? Could we provide educational services to parents, custodians, CEOs, the incarcerated, politicians, and the rest of our broader communities?

To fully discharge our duty as educators, we must identify and incorporate all available ideas and methods. We must serve all customers rather than just the traditional and obvious ones. What services can your school borrow from the private sector to provide to a broader array of customers?

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