PR push for TUSD?


by David Safier

TUSD is looking at putting together a $300,000 marketing campaign. Though I hate to see money spent on advertising, it makes sense. In the old days when the neighborhood school was pretty much the only option, parents just needed basic information. Now with open enrollment in the District and the possibility of enrolling at charter schools or neighboring districts, Tucson parents need to understand the reasons for choosing TUSD. Let them see what's being offered at schools across the District. Let them know that, despite the continual bad press, teachers are doing their jobs and schools are educating students.

How much the District spends and who it hires to run the campaign (give it to PR experts outside the District who know how to do this kind of thing) is another question. But TUSD definitely needs to sell itself to the public.


  1. After reflecting on my comments, I apologize for my “maroon” comment, which was insulting to Dr. Stegeman. There is plenty to criticize in the substance without resorting to name calling and I regret the comment.

  2. Just heard very good statements in the board meeting in support of the spending from Foster, Grijalva and Pedicone. Foster recognized the fact that marketing works. She said, “There is a magic bullet” and other campaigns have demonstrated that. That fits with our new reality that we are forced to do it, not only by magnet grants and the deseg order, but by state policies. Also, that TUSD folks are educators and not experts in this. Grijalva said that they have all run campaigns and understand how to benefit from marketing.

    Really folks, think about it. Advertising drives our whole world. It is unrealistic to act like it shouldn’t, so we can’t act like it doesn’t.

    I loved Pedicone’s challenge to Stegeman about how much corporations spend on marketing versus this proposal. (Nice parting shot, John. I’ll bet that felt good.) Stegeman, as a faculty member of the Eller College looked like a light weight and deserved that. As for his postcard fixation, all I can say is, “What a maroon!” Post cards seem to have been a successful and cheap strategy for Sunnyside, but doesn’t mean that sending out postcards is TUSD’s magic bullet.

  3. Sadly, it is true that big money has to be spent on marketing and not solely because TUSD has to dig itself out of a hole, although that is one reason. “Reformers” have shoved the “education as a marketplace” model down our throats and now that is the reality we have to work with. Anthony Cody posted a terrific piece a couple of days ago about how “reforms” are sold as tools to improve educational outcomes. The big problem is that there is a lack of evidence that they do so and once you pull back the curtain, you see that they are really just opportunities to realize profits where previously little opportunity for profits had previously existed.

    It’s a great country, isn’t it? I think I’ll buy some stock in K12, Inc. and Corrections Corporation of America.

  4. “The surest way to kill a bad product is to advertise it”. TUSD is bleeding about 500 students per year. They spend $60,000 more per classroom than Vail. Their fundamental numbers aren’t good, parents, teachers and students dont think highly of them. Their headquarters is a mess. They are distracted by the sideshow of MAS studies.

  5. TUSD used to have a very good public information/public relations office back in the early 1990s. (I did photography for them back when I was a fulltime freelancer.)

    Those professionals were likely laid off at some point for budgetary reasons. Obviously a bad move, given the district’s botched communications and total lack of crisis management skills. Their PR problem goes way beyond image building and maintenance. Hopefully, some in charge realizes this.