Can Duncan Clean Eduation’s Tarnished Brand?

Arne Duncan is a smart guy. He understands as a politician and leader that his category, namely education, has failed to communicate with the public. Some of us face marketing challenges that are solely our own. But lumbering legacy industries often have to build the capacity of their entire category while they build their own brands.

In a recent set of video interviews, Duncan harps on getting the word out. In my experience, K-12 educators communicate strictly among themselves. It’s an exercise in hairsplitting and inside baseball.

And it’s too bad. Overwhelmingly, Americans still believe in getting a good education, as our recent study shows. The inability of leaders in education to speak plainly to the public has isolated citizens, leaving many of them to feel the situation is unsolvable. It’ll be interesting to see if Mr. Duncan can turn that around. Given the early success of his Race To The Top reform program that requires states to compete for funding to innovate, I’d give him an A.