Wait, Wait Do Tell Me

Wait, Wait Do Tell Me

At this year’s NSPRA Seminar in Chicago, we were fortunate enough to listen to Peter Sagal of NPR’s Wait, Wait, … Don’t Tell Me!  He told us about storytelling and the ways to cope with today’s extreme political banter, which can often seem a bit over-the-top to those of us trying to provide a great public school education in our communities.

Just before Peter Sagal came on stage, I had the privilege of welcoming our 625+ participants to this year’s Seminar. After the introductory welcome, I tried to relay a few messages to guide participants as they plan their year ahead.

And in this year of presidential politics, I urged our participants that this may be the year to jump into the political fray concerning the chatter about economic development. With a stab of humor, I called this year’s message, Wait, Wait … Do Tell Me.

Here are some highlights of what I said:

In a July 2011 study, economist Michael Walden from N.C.StateUniversity measured the impact of the Virginia Beach City Public Schools on the metropolitan Virginia Beach community. Here are his key findings:

  • Each year’s graduates earn between $800 and $900 million more over their lifetime than those who do not graduate.
  • Each year’s graduates reduce future crime control and public health care costs between $260 and $280 million over their lifetime.
  • Each year’s graduates add $60 million to local property values because they spend more.
  • Recent improvement in student academic results is estimated to have added between $2.8 and $9.5 billion to local property values.

And what I consider the Big Kahuna finding:

  • For every dollar that the school system spent, there was a $1.53 in total regional spending. In other words, public schools make even more money and are a major economic developer for their communities. Yes, that’s right; public schools actually stimulate more growth and economic development for their communities. 

Now, we are so used to hearing about cuts and how the schools are a drain on the local economy. But if we take away the public schools’ positive economic impact from your community, your local community’s future will be more bleak than you ever imagined.

So we do have a lot of work to do in the year ahead, but our product, for a large part, continues to be a positive economic and cultural force in all our communities. Do your best to make sure your communities grasp a better understanding of just what your public schools do for their communities.

If we do not tell this story, who will tell it for us? That’s right, no one. It is up to us and it needs to begin now!

Rich Bagin, APR

NSPRA Executive Director

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