Monday, December 12, 2011

The Next Financial Bubble?

Many consider education as the best possible means of bettering ones life.
But is the cost of  'education' even worth it?

Bill Gates (In a Black Enterprise magazine interview) proposes that school districts run their schools the same way sports franchises run their teams. (He is against tenured teachers retaining their jobs when they consistently fail to produce the desired results.)
He says that spending per student has increased dramatically over the past thirty years while results have remained flat.
He noticed that there are more than twice as many adults being paid to educate (per student) as there were thirty years ago.
Mr. Gates also points out that some school districts in New Jersey spend as much as $25,000.00 per student yet these districts cannot outperform some districts in Utah which only spend $6,000.00 per student.
Money alone is not the answer to a better eduction.

Then there is college...
As student loan debt is approaching one trillion dollars - it is second only to mortgage debt as the being the biggest personal debt held by many Americans.
Since 70% of student loan debt is sponsored by the US Government (taxpayers) - should we be concerned?
The average price of a four year public university education has increased more than 128% in the past thirty years while the financial value of such an education has decreased. 

Since the value of public school K-12 education is decreasing while the costs continue to increase - at what point does the taxpayer decide that the public school monopoly is also "Too Big to Fail" and that this monopoly should be broken?
At what point does the taxpayer decide that funding student loans for college is not worth driving the market price for such an education?
If 'education' is no longer worth the ever-increasing price tag - is education the next financial bubble?


Val said...

In order to fix broken public schools you have to fix the broken communities that surround those schools. And this country has no desire to fix those communities. So the schools will never get fixed either.

uglyblackjohn said...

I agree.
Then why waste the resources?

Val said...

Because politicians need to keep themselves busy doing something, even if that something doesn't work.

CNu said...

There is one major factor you're both neglecting to take into account.

Nearly all the kids currently embedded in instutionalized public education system are pure digital natives.

Almost none of the teachers embedded in and employed by that same system are digital natives, in fact, the most senior of these teachers are still purely 19th century talking heads with no deep expertise in their given subject matter.

So, the teachers don't know enough to obtain the kids respect and hold their interest, and, the kids naturally respond to the 19th century instructional model as if it is punitive, and for most of them, it is in fact cognitively and socially punitive.

Discounting the dysfunctional home lives many of these kids face, and the lack of safety, adult attention and affection, security, and comfort - school can still be a rescue line for many if not all of them if it is done correctly.

This begins with expert teachers who sincerely have affection for kids and understand that in 99.99% of cases, the kids issues are not the kids' fault.

After that, it entails the expert presentation of information in engaging and up-to-date ways, and, allowing the kids to learn collaboratively.

Much of this can be done using distance learning models, distance learning courseware, and leveraging expert teaching resources in the distance learning context.

Matter fact, you can even bridge the digital divide and ensure that the child has content filtered access to texts, instruction, and collaboration using 3G end-point devices.

This is what I work on. It's coming, it not only works, it works very well. It is - as they say - somewhat of an inevitability given the never ending budget constraints that all schools will be confronting from now on out.

uglyblackjohn said...

@ SeeNew - While I didn't include it here - Bill Gates discusses technology and it's impact in the referenced article.

DF said...

The conspiracy theory is they are increasing the price to make it a class issue. Only the exceptional will be able to make it to the top universities or rich kids. Then they will set up a tier system.

It's a ingenious form of discrimination. So the guy who goes to community college just by his degree will be discriminated against and held out of higher paid positions. Same angle is going on right now with all these pop up colleges with inferior degrees.

Education is worth it but not worth the money. So creating these be in house note debt in order to attain higher income is fools gold. The more it's in the media the more kids will say I'd rather be debt free.

My nephew who is 17 told me it's not worth being in debt. He's 17! and I had to tell him don't listen to those people talking crazy. Now I'm here to help him see past that but what about the kids like me who have no guidance. You've just given them another reason to quit.

Education is worth it to do something for yourself. But, as long as it's tied into moving up in the world by getting chose no one wins.

On the real education money being spent Bill Gates issue. Poverty and cultural issues effect inner city schools more than the ones in Utah. I am sure they don't have a super diverse base of kids nor do they have the drug infested, gang ridden obstacles to overcome. They aren't all the same.

amanda said...

You write a very good post here. I especially like the part where the cost of higher education has gone up but it's value has declined.

I can see this so well in Australia where there is a huge push to send as many school leavers as possible into the tertiary sector for a degree. But those degrees they earn cannot be used to gain a better paying job that justifies the effort and the debt. Quite simply how many individuals with a first degree does any society need? Much more necessary are the skills to work in aged and disability care but only the educationally challenged due to migration are pushed in that direction.

uglyblackjohn said...

@ FreeMan - Going to a JC, getting GREAT gardes and then a scholarship to a top-tier school would be the most desirable route. The value would be in the money saved and in the education gained.
All those soft non-STEM degrees are the worthless ones.

@ Miss AJ - Care for the aged seems like a good idea until food runs so low that a Soylent Green situation occurs. At that time the ability to turn the aged into food would be a better degree to obtain. But seriously - the current educational system seems more focused on creating Proles than it does on producing any real problem solvers.

CNu said...

the ability to turn the aged into food would be a better degree to obtain.

don't forget soap, candles, and parchment - waste not, want not...,

brohammas said...

Education has always functioned on a classist model. I thas shifted around some as technology, access to capital, and cultures have shifted, but this isn't new.
Where business models don't work in education is in the idea that a free market is only free when all parties have the freedom to exit the market. Kids arent thier own agents, nor should they be. A ten year old does not have the tools to decide not to "enter the market" of education.
Many charter schools function with the dollar too much in mind and become the Phoenix and Strayer Universities of K-12. Phoenix absolutely is not and will not be Berkley.
Education is always worth it, it just might not be a financialy profitable success. those two arent exactly the same thing.

DPizz said...

Good post.

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