The Big Business of Preschool

I found this advertisement in the pages of Hemisphere, the inflight magazine of United airlines. 

Click the thumbnail image to see the full size ad.

I was struck by the contrast between the apparent commercial success of this company (#1 Childcare Franchise for 7 years according to Entrepreneur Magazine, with over 280 schools and quickly growing), and what I perceived as a total disregard for pedagogy and best practices (the woman featured is described as “not a teacher, nor does she have an education degree, and yet she owns a preschool franchise.”)

Why does this concern me so deeply?  Because this kind of business franchise shows just how effectively marketing trumps substance.  Check it out the Goddard School for yourself.

Why does this give me such hope?  Because if a business franchise with marketing and a support network for new schools can grow this quickly without substance, what could Montessori schools do with the same support?  What if NAMTA, AMI, or a third party developed a franchise or non-profit support system for new schools? What if we could entice local entrepreneurs to invest in opening Montessori schools and hiring trained teachers? Kellie McDonald from the article isn’t teaching in her school, she just owns it.  She might have opened a Montessori school if the choice was available.

 

 

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One thought on “The Big Business of Preschool

  1. Hi Ed–Thanks for giving the Hemisphere ad an even wider circulation. You are correct that The Goddard School franchise system is generally considered a commercial success. I was suprised, however, that you would conclude and publish, apparently without any substantive information at all, that Goddard School owners disregard pedagogy and best practices and that the Goddard program lacks substance. This is wildly inaccurate.

    Goddard Schools offer a substantive, sound and pedagologically supported curriculum for the whole child, including wide-ranging enrichment programs such as sign-language, art, foreign language, yoga, fitness and manners. Additionally, Goddard Sytems, Inc. (the franchisor of Goddard Schools) employs one of the most stringent Quality Assurance programs in the industry. Through Goddard Systems University, GSI is also able to offer continuing training and advancement opportunities to Goddard School franchisees, directors and teachers. This advanced training also helps to ensure that the teachers and care-givers at Goddard Schools provide the best care to the children. GSI also offers substantive and continuing support to its franchisees–nearly half of our over 100 employees are dedicated to field support for the school owners.

    What should give you hope is that the almost 300 (and growing) Goddard Schools nationwide provide proof that a preschool facility can provide high-quality child care, with a focus on preparing children for elementary school, while also providing financial rewards (the revenues, costs and earnings for each Goddard School are published in GSI’s Franchise Disclosure Document) and a rewarding lifestyle to the owners of Goddard Schools. All this encourages others who may otherwise never have considered working in child care to invest in Goddard Schools, or in other child care facilities, making more child care available to more children in more places.

    You don’t seem to object to the franchise business model–your posting correctly states that Montessori schools might do well to consider it–you just drastically missed the training, dedication and passion that have made The Goddard Schools so successful.

    Joe Schumacher
    Chief Operating Officer
    Goddard Systems, Inc.
    King of Prussia, PA

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