2. Ask your customers
How did a poor community come up with such an
all-embracing concept as Kimi Ora? Somebody thought to ask them! It was almost as simple
as that. Concerned with a rising street-gang problem among Maori youth in New Zealand's
capital city of Wellington, then Prime Minister Rob Muldoon visited some gang members and
asked their advice. What they said was simple: Give us a chance to prove ourselves.
So when Muldoon learned of plans for a new school
at Flaxmere, he invited the local school district administration to take up the challenge
to survey the community.
If that's what can happen if an entire community is
asked to plan a new school from the ground up - or the community up - what would happen if
a school's other main customers were asked: the students? Alaska's Mt. Edgecumbe High
School did just that, and the results are inspiring.
3. Guarantee customer satisfaction
Every successful business in the world is based on
building and keeping satisfied
customers. Nearly every good manufactured product comes with a written guarantee. But
very few schools offer the same type of guarantee. Why not?
"If public schools are going to survive, we have to
be held accountable for the product we turn out,"2
says innovator Phil Grignon, former Superintendent of the South
Bay Elementary School district in San Diego, California, where 84 percent of families are below
the federal poverty line. So the district has been offering a
"Commitment To Success In
Reading" written guarantee to all its 10,500 students. That guarantee promises
that all children will read at or above the national average by the time the student commpletes second grade. If the
student does not reach that level, the district "will provide
intensive one-on-one tutoring" to ensure that minimum result.3
To take advantage of the guarantee, each parent or
guardian must in turn agree to read to
students at home for at least 20 minutes each day, to check and sign homework, and to
attend quarterly parent-teacher work-shops. The same guarantee is being given to the
district's 35 percent of students who
have Spanish as a first language.
The guarantee program has been one of several innovations
in the South Bay district. Others
include an Early Literacy Intervention program and a one-to-one tutoring program
called HOSTS (Help One
Contents Page Preface