Curriculum plays key role for schools, districts refreshing brands in school choice era
- The Dallas Independent School District is working to bring students lost to charter and private schools back through its doors with a focus on academic innovation, including programs that give individual schools specific STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) curriculum focuses, EdScoop reports.
- The push — launched three years ago and shepherded by the district’s deputy chief of transportation and innovation, Angie Gaylord — is set to include all 230 schools in the district, with "innovation" schools simply getting academic overhauls and "transformation" schools getting new buildings, principals and curricular focuses.
- Some of the specialized academic focuses include a project-based learning high school built around architecture, urban planning and environmental science, while a middle school in the district is now centered around robotics, technology and collaboration. Gaylord also told EdScoop the specialized focuses don't limit student opportunities, but rather improve the amount of passion and relevance in educators' lesson plans.
Public schools face a competitive field today, vying for students along with private and charter schools. Private school voucher programs, for example, make it possible for more parents to afford that option.
Public schools are growing to understand that they must make themselves look more attractive to parents to keep their enrollment. As EdScoop reports, in the Dallas Independent School District, schools are starting to specialize. In other districts eyeing this transformation, curriculum officers can play a major role examining changes they could propose to a school’s academic design and focus.
But changing academics is only part of the story. Schools must also let parents know about new courses and directions, and social media can help, as that's where many people — rightly or wrongly — get information today. About two-thirds of U.S. adults are on Facebook, according to Pew Research Center from March 2018 — and almost three-quarters of those people are on the social media site every day. If you need to market your business — which today schools do — you need to be online and on social media.
Building a successful school story or brand on social media can help schools market their philosophy, curriculum and approach. Teachers and students can play a role in promoting that brand and message, too. It’s crucial for schools to hone their narrative so parents can know what’s available to them in the public school system before they start turning their head for something else further down the road, and rethinking approaches to curriculum can be among the most effective places to start.
Follow Lauren Barack on Twitter