Many in our national are predicting the demise of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), an institution that has served its people since the birth of our nation. Some say it is electronic media that is heralding the end of snail mail. Certainly that is a factor. However, as the internet has boomed so has online purchasing and home delivery. At the same time when the USPS is struggling, private industry is stepping in and prospering. Private carriers are quickly and efficiently delivering the goods and providing service superior to the USPS and at a competitive price.
What led to this decline in the USPS was not simply the advent of e-mail. It was hubris. The USPS felt that no one could compete with them. They were established in every town across our nation and supported by our federal government. With this hubris, this arrogant pride, came an apathy for service. Envelopes not addressed to USPS standards are returned in order to teach the sender a lesson. "Service with a smile" is an ironic joke quipped by customers at the windows. Meanwhile, the USPS leadership flagrantly throws multi-million dollar extravagant parties for its leadership at the expense of its patrons. This hubris is the greatest threat to the future of the USPS.
Schools have been slow to respond to the needs of its customers. At the same time, competition is springing up, and it is flourishing. After two decades of charter schools, no evidence shows charter schools offer any better education than public schools. Yet they are more successful in many situations. The research shows that charter school parents are happier with their charter schools than they are with public schools. And in our competitive economy, happy customers are the true measure of who will survive.
But public schools are not as far down the long pier as the USPS. We have time to respond, and we have a loyal public that truly wants us to succeed. We need to break the paradigm that schools have something that kids need, and they have to play by our rules or miss out. We need to meet the needs of our customers, facilitate the type of learning environments where kids are drawn, and work to satisfy our parents. Let our schools be a place where education is tailored to the individual, where school work captivates the students, where teaching meets the days and hours of service our public would like, and where parents are shown the value of what we are doing for their children.