Your School is NOT a Starbucks


I had landed in Portland, Oregon the night before.
I had gotten a total of 5 hrs sleep.
Before heading to my first meeting, I walked into a Starbucks, a few miles down from Portland State University.
As usual upon entering I was flooded by a sea of options.
I ended up with a nonfat caramel macchiato.

My first impression was that I had created my own unique blend of flavors.
When I dropped my coffee the barista offered me a double espresso she had just mistakenly poured for a customer that had bailed.
I accepted her kind gesture and jumped ship without a second thought.
I then realized my options were an illusion.

In actual fact what I wanted was a quick "pick-me-up" coffee to get me through my morning.
The pinch of milk and dash of cinnamon were great additions but nice-to-have.
They didn't carry their weight. When presented with a similar yet more affordable solution I was ready to jump ship.

Fast forward a couple of hours and I was at a Montessori school up north.

The principal was telling me how she was surviving a hypercompetitive Pre-K market with seven Montessori schools, spread within a 15-mile radius.

She had been "enhancing" her curriculum to serve an increasingly demanding parent audience.

"So we've added a few hours of STEAM, Spanish, optional public speaking and gardening or water play sessions in the summer. You have a variety of options to choose from."

I got the sense the curriculum was turning into a standardized bundle of offerings that the parent could parcel, pick from, rearrange. Each family could ultimately create their own unique set of curriculum combinations.

The question I'm left with is this: is your school's curriculum catering to parents' shopping urges or is it in fact centered on enriching your students?
Parents might be quick to follow a fad but they catch on equally fast when they feel underserved.

Ask yourself this: Are your curriculum choices thoughtful, deep and defensible or will your parents jump ship as soon as they are offered a similar, more affordable option?