Tutoring for Profit–and Learning

The March 2, 2009 edition of Forbes contains a short, informative article about tutoring, and specifically Kumon.

The company, which started in Japan, entered the U.S. market in 1983, and has had shortage of finding customers here, the magazine reports.

Why? Schools have, for various reasons, not satisfied the needs and wants of the people who should be their primary customers–parents of young children. So the parents become customers of Kumon also. Of course that means they pay twice–once in taxes to the school, and once in cash to Kumon.

Some more facts about the company:

– Its enrollment has doubled since 2001. (Can you say the same thing about schools?)

–  It serves 194,000 students.

– It did $81.4 million in business in the U.S. last year, selling two-month long classes for $85 to $115.

– While some schools change their philosophy every year or so, Kumon’s approach hasn’t changed since the company was founded 50 years ago, in 1958. It stresses fundamental math skills, avoids calculators, and uses rote drills.

– The company is privately owned, which may contribute to its unchanging approach.

– Clearly the public schools don’t satisfy some taxpayers. The article focuses on a Ridgewood,  New Jersey, where property taxes average $12,500 a year.

Source: “Remedial Math,” Forbes.

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