Why cyber charters advertise

| Monday, May 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

In her letter “Cyber school waste” (May 5 and TribLIVE.com), Pamela Newhouse asked me interesting questions about cyber charter schools. I would like to respond.

First, most cyber charter schools must market their programs. Unlike traditional school districts that usually serve a captive population within their attendance areas, most such schools' charters mandate that they serve students across the state. The only way to accomplish this is to advertise, so parents understand what they offer. Marketing is an integral part of Achievement House's budget, just as a traditional school budget may include a new stadium with artificial turf. The important point is that each public school must spend taxpayer money wisely.

Second, traditional schools advertise, too! Perhaps Ms. Newhouse does not realize that several Pittsburgh-area school districts are advertising on TV, billboards and/or online, despite local media regularly providing free publicity by covering district sports, activities and events. More schools likely will add marketing to their annual budgets. Is marketing good for one public school and bad for another?

As a taxpayer, school-choice advocate and parent whose children are graduates of cyber and traditional schools, I embrace competition so parents can chose the best school for their children. It is up to each school — cyber charter, charter or traditional — to focus on students and create a budget that enables it to meet their needs. Schools must be able to justify expenditures as they create education programs that enable children to reach their potential and prepare for the workplace or college.

Lynn Rodden

The writer is senior director of communications for Achievement House Cyber Charter School-Pittsburgh Resource Center in Oakmont.

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