Schools – Public, Private, Independent, Charter

Just a quick thought on the terminology used to differentiate school types. Also called “keywords” in the SEO industry, I’ve bumped up against these distinctions many times in recent years in helping schools determine what words people are using to search for schools on the Internet.

Until recently, it seems we had a pretty clear dualistic environment: we had public schools and we had private schools. Not too many years ago now, private schools (with the help of their marketing friends) realized (perhaps rightly so) the negative connotations in the “private” moniker, and opted for the much more approachable term “independent”, which is descriptive of a much more positive aspect of private schools: their independence from much of the state control and regulation their public counterparts are subject to. (Incidentally, the public have not bought into this naming convention, and still search almost exclusively for “private schools” on the Internet).

But now with Charter schools we have a sort of hybrid that threatens to muddy the waters even further. Charter schools also champion their independence (albeit not quite as loosely granted as that of private schools), and yet they are also public (meaning they charge no tuition).

So are charter schools “independent” schools? If they are following the advice of their marketing friends, they will certainly play up that angle. Ironically, if they want to enjoy the benefits of their association with independence in the Internet search world, they would need to get found for searches of “private school”, a term not even private schools want to put on their Web pages.

Good luck everybody!

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