Advertising is not an activity most families associate with public schools. But for many districts across Michigan, savvy marketing campaigns are helping them compete among themselves—and with charter and other schools—to attract and keep more students.

This competition results from greater parental school choice. New laws make it easier for parents to send their children—and their state education tax dollars—to a different public school if their local government-assigned school does not meet their needs.

Monopolies do not need to advertise, so marketing is a sign that school choice is breaking up government's monopoly in education. Parental choice has prompted many districts to improve their educational programs, and advertising lets parents know about the improvements.

For example, Royal Oak schools near Detroit last year lost over 250 students and over $2 million in funding to competing schools. This year the district launched a $95,000 radio and television blitz touting its customer-oriented approach to education. As a result, over 200 new students have applied.

Parental involvement is key to successful education at any school, and advertising gives parents information they need to stay informed and make the best choices in their children's development.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Catherine Martin.