Why an Education Consortium is Brilliant

Discusses the benfits of a consortium and how parents can start consortiums in their towns.

I am privileged to work with a group of schools that coalesce for certain activities.  To my knowledge, the Middlesex Consortium, based in central Connecticut, is the only one of its kind.  More parents deserve a consortium in their towns. 

In an era when many public schools are reducing their extra-curricular offerings, Middlesex has expanded its offerings.  By funding two administrators, Superintendents in seven Connecticut districts save money on many activities.  Moreover, Middlesex students receive activities can’t be had at all when a single school tries to undertake them.    Latin, chess, public speaking, and high level computer programming, are middle school activities that typically need 15 or more students to justify a good instructor, and 50 or more students to justify a really strong instructor (who can teach varied sections).   Similarly, in high school, Chinese, entrepreneurship, anatomy, geology, economics, SAT prep, and speed reading also require a critical mass that many high schools lack.

College preparation is the activity with which I am most familiar.  My firm provides private tutoring and on-campus SAT prep classes.  Schools that enlist Ivy Bound save money for their participating students.  We can give a top tier course at a reduced price.  It’s typically 20 – 30% reduced.  With a consortium providing many more students, we can reduce the rate 60 – 70%.  The high number of students also means the SAT classes can be split into slower and faster paced classes, and in some cases it allows us to offer weekend and weekday classes.  Students have more choices, lower cost, and a more honed learning experience.  

SAT Prep is the tip of the extra-curricular iceberg.  SAT study is for many students the end of a long learning process.  Students who can have myriad activities start their enrichment well beforehand.

To parents who are looking for private-school opportunities but are pressed to afford the tuition, and parents who relish public education but are facing cutbacks, I suggest starting a consortium.  Offer private educators the chance to bid for services; you’ll be impressed at how many replies you will get.  My firm for one would come running (we prefer dealing with active parents or truly outside-the-box superintendents than entrenched bureaucracies).  
Your students will be the main beneficiaries.   Fund the consortium at first with volunteers; eventually one or more schools will likely come to you offering a salary. 

Mark Greenstein is the founder and principal instructor of Ivy Bound Test Prep & Academic Tutoring. With over twenty years of experience, Ivy Bound offers a 150 SAT point guarantee or your money back. http://www.ivybound.net/

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Big Whitey November 28, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Mark, if our schools were competitive, such as one finds in the private sector, your services would not be needed. Perhaps if every parent were given the funds that are entrusted to the schools, we would see improvement. Imagine if I got the 25k it costs to educate my two kids and could send them where I choose. Lets not kid ourselves into thinking our educational system is for the kids. We all know the NJEA, administrators, and board members run the show for themselves first. The kids get what little is left.
Jenna December 03, 2012 at 05:30 PM
The Consortium that I speak of is one of the more "private-enterprise" elements that public schools do. A smart Consortium enlists good private offerings for the benefit of its students. So until your area districts are prepared to do away with public schools, the Consortium is actually a smart way to give students high quality at a low price. There is little "bloat" and though Superintendents need to approve, the Consortium takes its cues from parents directly. It even can specify the teachers it wants to enlis. The Consortium need not pay for pensions, medical leave, or high salaries of mediocre-yet-tenured teachers. That's how education should be.


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