Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Really Good Book on Public Education

Reviewed by Alice C. Linsley
Midway College Ethics

Kelly E. Middleton and Elizabeth A. Petitt have written Who Cares? Improving Public Schools Through Relationships and Customer Service. It is a really good book on public education, well-conceived, truthful, well-researched and spot on! The book is available at

The book’s topics include:

  • If Public Education Were a Stock, Would You Invest?

  • Show Me the Data

  • 29 ways to WOW parents and administrators

  • 10 best customer service practices

  • Too Much for One Person

  • Redefining Normal – Ten Practices to Get There

Who Cares? tells why best practices of customer service and relationship building are necessary to restore public trust in public education.

Public schools that don’t adopt necessary changes will be dinosaurs in the emerging world of educational options. California is a case in point. No wonder that state is working hard to squash parental options such as home schooling!

The best way for public education to improve is for school boards, administrators, and teachers to emulate the customer service practices of schools who compete for customers. One of the most basic principles involves appropriate, considerate and timely use of the phone. The authors even include templates of forms that can help teachers and administrators when speaking to parents.

I’ve taught an equal amount of years in private and public schools and I have 28 years teaching experience. I’ve taught in an all-boy college prep school, an all-boy military boarding school, a coeducational independent college prep school, an urban eastern public middle school, and a large rural Kentucky high school. I know from experience that different schools have a different mindset when it comes to customer service.

Three of my four children attended private schools for at least 1 year. I chose that option because my children needed smaller class sizes in schools where teachers influenced educational decisions out of knowledge of their subject and desire to serve students. I paid more than double for my children’s education: once out of my taxes so that they could attend the local public schools, and twice for tuition so they could attend private schools. The administrators and teachers at the public schools didn’t have to satisfy my concerns about my children’s progress (although most tried). My tax dollars weren’t going away when they failed to return my phone calls or blew off my request that my child be moved to another teacher. On the other hand, the private school administrators and teachers were quick to satisfy my concerns because they knew I could take my tuition money elsewhere.

Customer service is a mindset that is missing in public education. That’s why this book should be required reading for every public school board member, administrator and teacher.

(For another review, go here.)

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