New York Times reports that the tutoring program offered by law is going unused.
George Bush’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has tremendous supplemental educational services funding. Students, under NCLB, are eligible for free tutoring, and according to this article, roughly two million public school students were eligible for free tutoring in the school year that ended in 2004, yet only 226,000 — 12% — received help. In the nation’s largest school district, New York City, fewer than half of the 215,000 eligible students sought the free tutoring, and in California in the last school year, 95,500 of 800,000 eligible students were tutored. In Maryland, just over a quarter of those who were eligible — 5,580 of 19,520 students — actually enrolled in the last school year. And in Louisiana, despite aggressive marketing by the state, only about 5,000 of 50,000 eligible students took part in the program last year.
Reasons cited include lack-of-awareness amongst parents, and complicated paperwork associated with the process. Well, this is both a problem and an opportunity for private small businesses to step in, get NCLB certification, and begin offering their services to schools and parents in each community across America.
While online tutoring programs with off-shore tutors may be an excellent business opportunity as well, it requires motivated students to take advantage of such services. For the segment that NCLB focuses on -children in Public Schools, especially under-performing schools - it requires “in-person” tutoring, and that cannot be off-shored. These kids are inherently weaker, less motivated, come from under-priveleged backgrounds - hence, community tutorial services could both add a lot of value to their needs, as well as build strong businesses within the framework of the NCLB system. Several large companies have been built over the years, focusing on tutorial services franchises. Sylvan Learning Centers, Kumon, Huntington, etc. are all examples of learning center franchises that fall within the scope of NCLB.
There are opportunities to simply buy a Franchise from one of these larger companies. There is, also, the opportunity to create a specific and unique methodology, and build your own franchise.
There are opportunities, for example, to tailor programs for children from Hispanic households where often, language is a barrier. There are also opportunities to create programs for different styles of learning. There are bodies of research available on learning styles and multiple intelligence, which tap into how different kids learn differently. Courses can be customized to suit various of these mechanisms. The most popular categorization of learning styles is called VARK (Visual, Aural, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic). Teaching of Math and Sciences in a personalized manner, following VARK guidelines could well be ways to get through to children who are otherwise failing.
Bottomline: The budget is there. It is up to the entrepreneurial energy and creativity expressed by people who are qualified to teach and tutor, to tap into this business opportunity.
Silicon Valley Entrepreneur and Strategy Consultant Sramana Mitra writes about Entrepreneurship, Business Strategy, Emerging Technology, Market Moves, and sundry other topics in her Blog "Sramana Mitra on Strategy". Read more of her writings here.
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