Administrators of traditional public schools must see the decline and potential demise of the U.S. Postal Service and shudder.
A government bureaucracy clinging to relevance after being outsmarted and outhustled by private competitors.
Walt Griffin, the newly selected superintendent of Seminole County schools, knows it.
"We've never had to compete like this before," Griffin said. "That has just never been a part of our business for decades."
It'll be up to Griffin and other Central Florida superintendents, such as Barbara Jenkins, who will take over soon in Orange County, to make sure traditional public schools don't go the way of the obsolete post office.
And it's going to take an approach that is more Steve Jobs than Stephen Hawking.
This is a moment in which the kind of academic and theoretical introspection the famous physicist might prescribe won't stand a chance. We need the bold risk-taking, original thinking and sense of urgency that made the Apple co-founder famous.
And then the schools need to take that innovation and sell it in a way that helps reverse the trend of falling or flat enrollment. Because they certainly aren't going to get any help from the state on that front.
While lawmakers were busy slashing school budgets and promoting charter schools, traditional public schools have done a terrible job of selling themselves — even in Seminole County, where residents brag about the quality of the schools the way some places brag about beachfront views.
It used to be that mom and dad dutifully showed up at their neighborhood school to enroll their 5-year-old in kindergarten.
Private schools always posed competition but usually among families who could afford the tuition.
Now there are options for everybody. Charter schools are free and funded with public dollars. And the newest breed in education — day-care centers that take in infants and pre-schoolers and steer them to their private kindergarten and elementary grades — caters to the middle class.
The Florida Department of Education just published a report and accompanying news release boasting of how charter school students outperformed public school kids.
"This report clearly demonstrates that charter schools are a viable option for parents," Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson said in a statement.
Charter schools are unmistakably the cool kids in Tallahassee, getting all the attention from politicians.
Meanwhile, traditional public schools are left feeling like the geeks.
Private schools, charter schools and even virtual and home school options often win over parents with their niche offerings that address special concerns a parent might have or offer the flexibility that often just isn't available in a traditional public school.
But Griffin appears willing to give them a dose of their own medicine.