Free Marketing Schools
Free market fans envision a story something like this:
Finding themselves in a world where the power of the free market is unleashed, charters, private, and public schools all become transparent, competing with each other to be able to publish the finest student outcomes. Empowered consumers/parents study up on the student outcomes published by each school so that they can weigh the merits of each school and make the best selection for their children.
If this fairy tale ever came to pass, education would be the first sector of the free market to ever function in this fashion. Go turn on your television right now and wait for an advertisement that is a factual, data-based account of the effectiveness of the product. Wait for an advertisement that does not try to imbue the product with a personality or identity, even if products corn flakes and cleaning fluids do not naturally display any personality traits. Okay-- you shouldn't actually wait for any of that, because you will get old and die before you actually succeed.
Let me repeat what is perhaps my most-repeated observation on this blog.
The free market does not foster superior quality; the free market fosters superior marketing.
Now we have an academic study from the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at the Teachers College of Columbia University. "Perceptions of Prestige: A Comparative Analysis of School Online Media Marketing," by Sarah Butler Jessen (Bowdoin College) and Catherine DiMartino (Hofstra University) is a working paper that looks at how marketing plays out in a couple of education markets.
The paper is about setting up a framework for comparing branding and marketing practices, comparing the practices of different types of schools in "choice settings."
Jessen and DiMartino draw on lots of literature studying the use and practices of branding and CURMUDGUCATION: Free Marketing Schools: