Garner leaders dropped an apparent surprise on members of the Triangle Community Coalition last week when they said one of their biggest concerns was the bad reputation of Garner area schools presented to newcomers who may be considering the town as a place to settle.
It would be folly to say there has not been a time when that reputation may well have been deserved.
But we don’t believe that’s a deserved reputation today. And we have a sense that most people are growing happier with their local schools.
Test scores have improved over time, the high school has introduced an International Baccalaureate program that produces some of the region’s brightest students – graduates we believe are capable of succeeding at the most rigorous colleges and universities in the country.
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But advice passed on from one person to the next has a tendency to weigh more heavily than rising test scores and per-pupil spending in the mind of a person who has no frame of reference, much like a newcomer who has probably never before been to Garner.
School officials can do more to tout their successes and discuss with stakeholders their plans for improving school weaknesses. Interestingly, Garner Town Manager started that process Thursday night with a tweet proclaiming Garner schools “great.”
Promoting the strengths of our schools will take time to return positive results. Garner’s reputation as a bad place for schools didn’t develop overnight, but it may well be entrenched enough that it’s going to take a lot to overcome the perceptions that currently exist.
In the meantime, the TCC can also work up its own plan for tooting Garner’s horn and it can put its money to good use by promoting the advantages of living in Garner. It shouldn’t be too hard for marketers to find plenty of good stories to tell.