The success of private, independent education in the United States poses a pickle of a paradox in terms of marketing. For decades and with considerable success, the independent sector has marketed itself on the basis of rich student-to-teacher ratios, at least as compared with parochial and public schools. In fact, the lowness of the ratio, often 8:1 or less, is the primary rationale used to justify a tuition price point around 2X higher than parochial alternatives.
Of course, we now acknowledge that such ratios are unsustainable, as tuition approaches levels where all but the most affluent must flee. So, with ratios that are slowly creeping upward (but still quite rich by comparison), how should we market ourselves? Do we now say that we got it wrong years ago on the ratio front?
The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) advises schools to drop the low ratio language in favor of stressing that every child will be known and that no one will fall through the cracks. That's fine, but isn't knowing every child going to be correlated with ratios in the public mind? It seems to me that we need a whole new way of explaining our product; one that isn't so connected with a high-cost method of production.