Recently this blog turned 4. In that time I have written nearly 1000 posts and have had an opportunity to see field of education in a deep way. Every year I write a post with my predictions for what I think will happen in education but this year is hard for me to say. Let me lay out why, and give you 5 predictions. Warning, this story does not have a happy ending. 🙂
As I began my research back in 2010 I realized that a system of education, like all systems, exists to serve a purpose. It is not usually created to serve a single person, but to serve society or at least a section of society. I believe that the section of society that public education is setup to serve is the government. Oh sure, the more romantic and naive among us will rattle off something about “shaping kids futures” and “molding young minds” or “promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.” (source) That’s a bunch of crap. The purpose of public education is to get kids out of the labor force, provide babysitting so both parents can work (for lower wages), provide a large pool of government union labor, and to instill a sense of obedience and conformity in the citizens. That might seem harsh but I call it like I see it. That description is the only explanation for all the facts. I say this not to in any way denigrate all the hard working teachers who struggle to do the impossible. My hat is off to you but your career will make a lot more sense if you understand the true purpose of what you are doing.
Ok so how does this make predictions harder? Well, government is controlling public education but higher education is a more complicated picture. There, students have a choice as to where to go and if to go at all. And yet, government is the one providing most of the funding. They also set regulations to adjust the competitive landscape.
The whole system then is dependent on what government does so what would happen if government is unstable? The foundation of a successful society is a stable government. Until about 5 years ago the US had one but things are changing rapidly. I’m not talking about a coup or anything like that. I’m talking about a society changing from one governed by laws to one governed by men. Laws are slow to create, and difficult to pass. This is intentional!! The founders of the US setup a system of government that was unwieldy because they wanted government to do as little as possible. In short, they didn’t trust it. Now, the people in government believe that government is the solution to all problems and are frustrated at how slow the system works. Therefore, some of them are choosing to go around the problem. There are three parts to this problem.
- This past week our president said essentially that if congress doesn’t do what he wants, he will just decree it himself via executive orders. This is hugely problematic if you are a business owner because you don’t know what is going to happen next. Therefore business are sitting on trillions of dollars of cash to plan for unforeseen government edicts.
- 5 years ago the US Federal Reserve has a balance sheet of about 300 billion in US Treasuries. Today it’s well over 3 Trillion. We are printing money to finance our debt. That has never happened before to the US like this. Other countries have tried it and they all crashed and burned. All it’s doing is making the stock market go up (see photo below) but eventually that money has to be paid back.
- The massive amount of federal departments have issues a over 80,000 pages of new rules and regulations in 2013 (see photo below). This greatly increased the uncertainty of business again. This year also the employer mandate in Obamacare is scheduled to bite (after having been decreed a one year delay).
If it was just the US with this level of instability then I would have an easier time but the rest of the world is in worse shape in some areas. Japan has no children and are dying. China is going to get old before they get rich. Europe has an unelected government that is strangling the continent. Russia is trying to get an empire back and is ruled by a dictator. Latin America is poor. Africa is ignored and only thing stopping the Middle East from being a real mess is the relationship with the West via oil. Not to mention that the big banks that triggered the crisis in 2008 are EVEN BIGGER NOW and the government passed a law saying the taxpayers would bail them out if they get into trouble again (Dodd-Frank)! Top all of this off with globalization where things are now interconnected and you get a very volatile situation. The whole thing is a house of cards being propped up by the Fed printing money. That can’t go on.
So if education is the reflection of the societies they serve, how do you predict what is to happen? I can’t but I will try anyway.
- I don’t think the economy is going to improve this year. What little momentum there is right now is driven by Fed spending vast amounts. That can’t go on and I think this year is when people will start to realize it. Therefore, still no hiring. Therefore no jobs. Therefore less reason to go to college. I think college enrollment will drop again this year.
- I think there will be more backlash against common core. This will largely be ignored by the government because the school system exists to serve them and is working just fine.
- I think we will see a few universities start to have public financial troubles because of lower enrollments. If the stock market crashes I think we will see a lot of them having troubles.
- This will cause mounting pressure on university bottom lines. This will then cause pressure on tenured professors.
- The government will do something to “help” schools, therefore causing many unforeseen complications. The nature of this “help” will be to spend a lot more money.
I could all be wrong about this you know. That would be comforting. Maybe everything will just keep going along like it always has. In writing this blog though I have learned that just because something has always been like that, doesn’t mean it will survive tomorrow. The dinosaurs existed for millions of years and yet they are gone. Systems made by people eventually fail without exception. It’s just a question of time and circumstances.