Tonight was the PTA Open House for Beatrix's school. We attended and learned A LOT, but maybe not in the way that was expected. We learned:
1) Always save the slip that comes home in your student's backpack.
I remembered the event while at a client's, and I had not seen the slip in awhile anyway, so I went to the school website. There was nothing about the event on the website, but I found a link to the (separate) PTA website; by going there, I found the event time of 5:30.
Except that the event was at 6:00pm (which we realized when we got there at 5:30 and there was no one there and the sign in front said 6:00). Which gave us time to go to the store and pick up some apples.
I also learned by this that I had better start following the school's principal on Twitter.
2) Free stuff attracts people.
Tonight's event had flu shots/mist (cue big tears from Beatrix when she realized that), and a pizza dinner (yum). Attendance was good, and it was fun to meet some other parents and see Beatrix's BFF Alex and "second mom" Clara.
But the main thing I learned was:
3) The Saint Paul schools are desperately in need of a cohesive marketing strategy.
Tonight, I learned that Randolph Heights is one of only three schools in the state that has an accredited Core Knowledge curriculum, which is really awesome. It validated my sense of why it's such a great school, and that it builds on knowledge and teaches in a way that makes sense to me. It made me feel even better about the school. I'm excited about what Beatrix will learn there.
Except, it's five weeks into the school year, and it would have been really great to know this in advance!
Now to give the school credit, there is a "Core Knowledge" snippet on their newly-redesigned web page template (along with several other snippets on Gifted & Talented, Responsive Classroom, Special Education, etc.) But, on the main page comparing Saint Paul schools, it does not mention this particular curriculum (though the school right above it does). Truth be told, though we toured schools and I spent hours comparing them, it did not even occur to me to compare each school's chosen curriculum — or even that each school might have a different curriculum. And though I can't believe I missed this factor, I would bet many — or even most — other parents do as well.
Last week I read an article about how Saint Paul schools had 37,000 students and were unlikely to hit their goal of 40,000 by next year (as an aside, it also said Minneapolis schools had only just over 34,000 students, which seemed really strange!)
Now don't you think that one way to reach that enrollment goal would be to provide clear and comprehensive information about the school choices, thus empowering families to pick the school that best suited their child's learning style?
(don't even get me started on the money for a marketing strategy, because I will explode about some spending choices I don't agree with...)