Thought-provoking tv spot for… a school.

I’ve been talking so much about PR and Dayton Public Schools, and then this TV spot for Kaplan University popped up on my TiVO.

It starts out with a professor saying “I’m here to apologize” and “I’ve failed you”–and talks about how to change the system-

Something like this, should what Dayton Public School’s should consider- but, then move to a complete set of answers to how they are going to change their ways–and their outcomes, to make school cool, to make academic achievement a possibility for all–and to tell a community, that we’re sorry for allowing mediocrity to be acceptable- not only in our schools- but in our community.

The future of Dayton rests with the kids that DPS is teaching now. We can’t afford to fail them.

However, I can guarantee one thing: Kaplan’s ad agency is better than Kaplan.

For-profit education systems aren’t the answer for our country.

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David EsratiIce BanditGeneDavid EsratiSusan R Recent comment authors
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John Ise
John Ise

Another thought provoking spot from Australia, more about child rearing than schooling. If I had a magic wand, I’d run it nationally for a year.


Judge Phillip Banks is a professor for Kaplan?

To be honest, I don’t think anything of this nature will help. I really don’t. Ads may be thought provoking, but will it make our kids better students? No. We all know this fact.

But, at this point, I would be willing to try anything sense no one cares to point out the obvious.


I “no” it is since not sense.

I just watched that YouTube spot that John Ise linked us to………. much more powerful, and much more truthful than the Kaplan ad.

Our schools may not be the best, but until we have better parents nothing will really change.

Better parents, better parenting equals smarter, healthier, happier kids.

“Worse” if you will, was defined in that YouTube spot.

Mike Bock

David, isn’t advertising grand? I love the use of music and drama. And the message is true: The system — steeped in tradition and old ideas — has failed you. But the implication that Kaplan has the answer is in no way explained, and the implication certainly isn’t supported by any evidence. But the purpose of the ad, like most ads, is to seed dissatisfaction — by suggesting that there is something available that is much superior to what you currently have. And by that measure, the ad succeeds. Such an ad, however, would hardly be helpful for DPS, because a lack of dissatisfaction in its clients or potential clients is not a problem DPS needs to worry about. DPS needs answers. You write, that such an ad would be only a beginning and say, “But, then, move to a complete set of answers to how they are going to change their ways–and their outcomes, to make school cool, to make academic achievement a possibility for all.” Wouldn’t it be nice if things could be so easy? Kaplan’s ad implies that this “complete set of answers” as to how to transform public education would include using gobs of new technology. But it is hopelessly simplistic thinking to suppose that technology should or could be the force adequate for the transforming change needed in public education. The Kaplan ad got it right when it said, “The system has failed you.” The system itself is the problem, not the lack of technology, nor the lack of merit pay for teachers, nor any other discrete idea that can be mentioned. The force needed for transforming change in public education is a strong consensus that the system itself, the essential structure of the system, must change. But it seems beyond the capacity of any system to admit that it is the system, itself, that is the problem. You would think that in a democracy the public could demand and receive needed changes in the system. To a great degree the problem of public education is one shared at all levels of government: there is… Read more »



But what system has failed? We have similar systems throughout the United States, if not damn near identical, and some of these systems are successes.

Like most things a blanket statement goes too far (which I am guilty of often, but usually doing it in a joking manner.) Some systems have failed, some systems are broken. For some,though, the systems they have do just fine.

With most things it comes down to people – vs each other, vs the bureaucracy. Better people make better systems – and system run by better people are usually better (have more success) than systems run by incompetent people.

But what is the measure of success? Test scores? Happiness? Health? Improvement? All of the above? Other? And what is failure?

These things are hard to define. But if you define them then you have goals, and being goal oriented for a young person is important.

Mike Bock

Gene, You seem to overall disagree with the diagnosis that it is the system of schooling, the system of public education, that has failed. You are evidently thinking that because students in systems like Oakwood or Centerville show success, according to government and university standards, that their success is evidence that these systems are good systems. No. Such schools get credit for a lot of success that is undeserved. There is an almost perfect correlation between family income and student school success.

You are sort of in the position of a pre-1989 Soviet Communist who was still looking for a way to make communism work. You write, “Better people make better systems,” but that notion is not true. The system is the system and putting better people in the system does not change the system itself. Better people may make a bad system work marginally better, but to effect the level of transformative change needed in public education, the system itself must change. Regardless of how talented, sincere, and devoted individual Soviet Communists may have been, there was no way that the Soviet system was going to work. It was the system that needed radical transformation.

You raise a good point, a crucial point, when you ask, “What is the measure of success?” We need to think through the purpose and aim of public education. And then, we need to think through a system that might best achieve that aim.

Our standards for success, our “measures of success,” as they are, are too low, too trivial. High test scores do not indicate an adequate education. If the standard was that students would understand and achieve their potential and that students become active, thoughtful and informed citizens, we would need a whole new way of evaluating schools.

The actual aim of the system, as opposed to its ostensible aim, is simply that the system itself be sustained and replicated. It represents a lot of income to a lot of people and those in charge are not interested in change.


I am not really questioning whether the system is good or bad. For the most part this is the system in place and we must make the best of this system, until something else can be implemented. It is not perfect, that I agree with. But what are alternatives? And I mean real alternatives that would appeal to a lot of people, bc after all this is a so called democracy.

It is interesting you bring up Oakwood. I met an Oakwood teacher a few weeks back and this fellow is about to retire, within 5 years that is……… and with a conversation with him and evidently a former student (that is what I picked up on) he said the “system” was better 12-20 years ago when teachers were teaching what they agreed to teach (if that makes sense) but now the Oakwood parents are really active, overly active in deciding the curriculum for the school. He pointed out that Oakwood parents have always been active but now they have gone beyond that wanting wide spread change (especially in the math department.)

I guess the point is that my beef with Dayton is that parents are not involved enough, and with Oakwood they may be too involved. Parents should be better parents, and with better behavior maybe we would see better results. Is income a factor? Sure. But being poor is no excuse not to parent.

Does anyone who lives in Oakwood know anymore about this subject? I am curious now bc that conversation was a 3 minute bitch by this guy.

What are the real alternatives Mike? Pointing out the problem is easy. What is the better system, that would work for Dayton in particular.

David Esrati
David Esrati

note: I put up the tv spot as a conversation starter- not as an example of the end result. There have to be some concrete goals and promises, accountability.
The problem with DPS and this contract- no accountability, no goals and no explanations.
Word is that the people at the Dayton Chamber, who pushed the levy- are quite mad about this.
Dr. Stanic may think he knows who buttered his bread- but, he’s about to learn who baked it, and who can cut it up into little pieces.
If his PR firm really knew what they were doing, none of this would have happened.

Susan R

When I watched the YouTube clip, I found it a bit amusing, as home educators cottoned on a couple of decades ago to the many ways one can provide an education for their children. They use different educational models and a variety of technologies to inspire and motivate their kids. They have the freedom to toss out what is not working, try something new, adjust to a child’s needs and interests, and be part integral part of their communities.

What schools tend to miss out is the basic premise of education, and that is that learning has to take place in the mind and heart of a child- otherwise you have little robots regurgitating facts onto tests, and no learning has taken place. Most traditional classrooms are little more than a Chalk&Talk for the Sit&Git.

Schools have broken down on a variety of levels- from parents not being held accountable for their children, to the use of methods as old and dessicated as King Tut, to becoming top-heavy and federalized to the point that communities have little voice in how and what their children are being taught. In the current educational climate, I am not surprised parents have become apathetic, and thus we have a vicious circle.

Educational choice is going to break down many barriers, and gov’t schools might want to put away the cart&donkey methods and at least try for a Pinto. ;)


What are we talking about here? Are we being specific to DPS or all public schools?

I think DPS are a failure, FOR THE MOST PART. But if we add in schools that are producing our doctors and scientist then how or who are we failing? We are not going to educate every kid – mainly bc they don’t want to be and their parents may not care.

But the system, for every school, is not a failure. Some schools are somewhat successful, believe it or not.

There may be better ways but what are they? What is success? How do we measure it? We need to measure it in order to figure out if what we did was the right change, if you know what I mean.

“In the current educational climate, I am not surprised parents have become apathetic, and thus we have a vicious circle.” – That is pure bull sh*t and a poor GD excuse. Oakwood parents are the opposite, and they may hurt kids as well, but to be apathetic towards your kids or any kids education means you should pick up and move to Greenland. This is a very basic foundation we need to make our society run, and btw if you have a job you are putting money into a system so you should care, especially if it is your kid.

Mike Bock

Gene, the system we see in public education — hierarchical, bureaucratic — in my judgment is a failed system, even in those schools deemed “excellent” by the government. Our government standards are too low and too trivial. We need a new consensus about what criteria should be used to judge school “success.” And we need to develop systems of public education that will begin to develop the vast potential we have as humans, because the problems facing the human race are so enormous that a whole new level of potential will increasingly be required — if the human race is to survive. I’ve extended this conversation in a post here:


But some kids are growing up to be doctors, scientists, lawyers, etc. They have to be learning something.

DPS may have failed, but has Oakwood? Most kids there go to college, and not every kid in the world, including those at Oakwood, are the world smartest kids. If Oakwood has failed, or another school, where, exactly?

I will click on that link soon, but I have get to this snow on my drive. Much easier for an Old man to broom it off a few times than shovel it once, and my back ain’t that great.

Susan R

Gene, How we measure success is a very important criteria for how we measure educational quality, and I am glad you and others are asking that question- Are we, as parents and educators, teaching kids how to make a life, or just how to make a living? BTW, I don’t think acknowledging the current temperature of the education climate overall is ‘making excuses’ or being apathetic. How does one cure ills if one does not examine the symptoms and attempt to follow them to the root of the disorder? As Mike Bock points out in his blog entry (good stuff, btw) we tend to focus on one or two elements, rather than realizing this is a system-wide problem. However, within the system are exceptional schools, and I don’t think anyone denies that. But why don’t we analyze these pockets of success to see what they are doing differently? I don’t believe in giving up on our kids, but I talk to so many parents who are literally fighting the system every day to ensure their child is receiving the help that they need- not just to pass tests, but to master the material. Some parents just want the teacher to return their phone calls or answer their emails. Others who make beneficial suggestions are written off because they are ‘just the parents'(Jay Mathews wrote an op-ed on this topic Monday). In the face of these numerous roadblocks, parents can become weary and feel trapped- they can’t afford to change districts, they can’t afford private schools, and the gov’t monopoly on education rolls on, robbing hope from the most needy in our country. We can say “Suck it up and deal with it” or offer solutions that inspire and motivate. There is no magic pill for the education system, as there are so many factors involved, and for schools to remain stubbornly rooted in industrial age methods when we are in the grip of a rapidly progressing technological age is not helping matters. I thought the video pointed out very well (even if the advertised school doesn’t live up to the… Read more »


Mike’s blog was interesting. I am not denying our system is not the best, but it is the system we have. To change any system is to convince a lot of people that they system is not working, and for some the system is working.

Some pockets do better because they have better pieces even in a similar system – more caring teachers, better behaved students, more involved parents, better educated parents – and generally this goes hand in hand with people’s income.

DPS needs and overhaul. But how does it get done? Who do we really challenge? The school board is made up of “who you know” and not what you know. We allowed non professional and weak people to take over DPS, and they always try to benefit their own, not all kids.

Yes, the system is broke. But I don’t see us changing it. Most people don’t care, to be honest. Another system would be better, but it would be better if we set up a council to tell people how to spend their money and how to raise their kids but no one will ever go for that either. To convince a lot of people who don’t care in the first place will be hard to do. They hardly show up and vote as is, what makes you think that they will change now.

My opinion, hand over full control to a group of true professional educators from a successful city and not from this backwards bureaucracy we call DPS.

Mike Bock

Gene, You say, “Yes, the system is broke. But I don’t see us changing it.” But Dayton, Ohio is a democracy and in this democracy there are elected local school boards. And school boards have the legal authority to change the system. So, all that is needed is for a majority of a board of education to agree to adhere to a specific vision of system change. But, the real problem is that there is no vision of an alternative system that is even being considered. I wonder if school boards, in fact, ever frame the question of school improvement in terms of system change?


The system may need to be changed – of course it needs to be changed.

But what if we had better parents? More responsible parents?

Better teachers? Smarter teachers? Better looking teachers!!! :)

The system should change…… but these other things need to change as well.

But, again, some systems do actually work. Why change those systems?

Susan R

I believe that schools should be accountable at the state and local levels instead of at the federal level. That leaves functioning schools to continue to function, and communities free to pursue solutions that fit their particular concerns.

BTW, I would support some parental accountability as well. To use any gov’t program, folks have to apply and meet certain criteria- why not public schools?

We can attempt to educate parents, and find ways to supply better teachers, but the traditional classroom is, IMO, going the way of the T-Rex.

Ice Bandit
Ice Bandit

For profit education is not the answer? Sez who? Last time I looked Harvard has an endowment in the tens of billions and still charges students nearly $50,000 per academic year. This once, I agree with Chairman Mao; let a thousand schools of thought contend. The legacy universities have priced themselves out of the marketplace; and those who take the academic plunge find themselves hopelessly in debt with one of the few economic ball-and-chains that bankruptcy will not absolve; the student loan. If DeVry or ITT can help launch a person into a career change, let them do so. If the University of Phoenix can teach a young mother of two in rural Darke County via the internet then we all benefit. And the winners of spelling bees and other mental competitions seem to all be home schooled. The old system has bankrupted and failed us, let us aggressively seek new avenues of education…….

David Esrati

Note, Harvard still offers boatloads of scholarships for those who don’t make the big bucks.


for profit anything is always better than government anything.

Even in the movie Milk the signs reads “stop wasting my tax dollars”

Why the hell can’t liberals see that…….

Ice Bandit
Ice Bandit

Hey Dave. So Harvard offers some scholarships. Big deal. With their endowment, they could hang an ‘out to lunch’ sign on the bursars’ window for the next 100 years and still not be broke. Fact is, all educational institutions are ‘for profit.’ Even those Marxist at that empty and bankrupt campus in Yellow Springs will add a lusty ‘amen’ to that statement. Besides, the benefits of an ivy league education are oversold. Orville and Wilbur, Dave Thomas and Sam Walton have all demonstrated that all one needs to become a captain of industry is to come up with something somebody else wants then roll up the sleeves and provide it. I did read one book about the wonders of an Ivy League degree, it was David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest, and detailed how knuckleheads from Harvard and Yale led this country into one foreign disaster after another………

David Esrati
David Esrati

@icebandit: I highly recommend the documentary “The smartest guys in the room” about Enron.
It all starts to make sense.