Friday, April 17, 2020

The current lockdown might help to reshape American education

As the lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic continues, it's highlighting fissures in the monolithic education establishment, and giving parents and students fresh reason to question whether or not they're getting the best value for their education dollars.

First, the American Spectator points out that "We're All Homeschoolers Now".  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

Kids go to school for six-plus hours a day, but a lot of that time is wasted. In most cases, you could run through the lessons in about two hours. Parents are seeing that now.

The pandemic quarantine is showing us that schooling is basically state- or parent-sponsored babysitting with some ABCs, 123s, dodgeball, and the prom thrown in.

This highly credentialed child care costs taxpayers a lot of money ... now that we’re out the money and have to take care of the kids, reassessment is going to happen.

. . .

The sector of education that is in real trouble is higher education. Costs have gone nothing but up as schools have used the money from student loans to do things like build more buildings, hire an assistant to the assistant to the assistant of the president — basically anything but put that money back into the classrooms.

. . .

Colleges and universities are keeping the money flowing in right now with online courses. Students who would never have considered distance learning have gotten a taste of it. Many will decide they prefer that to the in-person experience.

Schools will try to hold per-credit prices up, but it won’t work. Economies of scale for in-demand online learning are significantly lower than classroom learning, and there are enough credentialed competitors in that space that this will finally bend the higher-ed cost curve down.

There's more at the link.

(As I've said in these pages before, every one of my four university qualifications was earned through part-time and/or correspondence education.  I could never afford to go to university full-time.  I don't think my education suffered through doing it that way, and I saved a bundle!)

Heather Mac Donald agrees that US higher education is basically a Ponzi scheme.

Many college presidents are terrified that the coronavirus pandemic will devastate their schools’ finances and enrollment. Anyone who cares about a revival of serious learning can only hope that they are right.

Higher education today resembles a massive Ponzi scheme. Colleges desperately recruit ever more marginal students who stand little chance of graduating. Before their inevitable withdrawal, those students’ tuition dollars fuel the growth of the bureaucracy, which creates the need to get an even larger pool of likely dropouts through the door to fund the latest round of administrative expansion ... Tuition at private four-year colleges grew 250 percent from 1982 to 2012, while the median family income rose about 18 percent, adjusted for inflation, according to ABC Insights. Since the 2008 recession, tuition at four-year public colleges rose 35 percent.

. . .

The primary concerns of college leaders are developing new sources of revenue and competing for students, according to a 2019 Chronicle of Higher Education poll. Even before the coronavirus sent a spasm of fear throughout the enrollment bureaucracy, colleges were nervously eyeing their sinking enrollment yields ... And now, the coronavirus threatens tuition dollars, government support, and alumni giving.

. . .

Already-enrolled students have been sent packing and told to hook up their laptops for distance learning. Almost no college is considering a tuition rebate, which implies that online learning should be valued at the same rate as an on-campus class. Students and their parents may start to ask why they should pay astronomical fees for a campus experience if they can get the same instruction over the web.

. . .

For years, as tuitions climbed to ever-more obscene levels, observers predicted that the higher-ed bubble was surely about to burst. That never happened. Now, however, the long-overdue correction may be near.

Again, more at the link.

Even technically-oriented education can benefit from the online learning environment, as a recent study confirms.

A new study led by Cornell University researchers shows that STEM students learn just as much in online classrooms as they do in traditional in-person classes. Online courses might be less satisfying than in-person classes, but many more students can access them and they are much cheaper to facilitate.

Last, but by no means least, home schooling and education means that left-wing and progressive indoctrination of students is being exposed for what it is - and, for the first time, many parents are doing something about it.

Needless to say, now with my kids home and me overseeing their daily e-learning, this is a great opportunity to take a deeper look at the left-wing theories on race and gender, not to mention climate change, that public schools are pushing on my children.

. . .

Over the last several years, my children’s schools have pushed for “equity,” which usually starts with a survey or audit about “school climate.” Of course, the ideologues hired to do the surveys always find that certain groups feel oppressed, and thus interventions are necessary to create what they deem as safe learning environments where everyone feels welcome. But only certain dimensions of identity politics, particularly race, gender, and sexuality, are measured.

. . .

Equity at its core is based in left-wing critical race theory that assumes institutional racism and oppression pervade every corner of society and necessitate the redistribution of resources based on “oppressed” status. It is sold as a warm, fuzzy idea of helping kids succeed, but it serves as a gateway for training teachers on how racist they are, reducing academic standards, exchanging traditional curriculum with more “culturally relevant” material, and fomenting resentment between groups rather than promoting the safe school climate these equity plans say they so desire.

. . .

Schools are likely to continue e-learning efforts in the upcoming weeks as we continue through the pandemic. Parents, use this time when your children are home to find out what they are learning. It will be interesting to see how many parents discover that kids do not have to be in a classroom to learn, and that they have options, especially if the curriculum in their schools is pushing fringe race and gender theories on their kids.

More at the link.

That last article illustrates why so many "special snowflakes" are encountered at our colleges and universities, demanding "safe spaces" and protesting vehemently at being exposed to any other point of view but those in which they've been indoctrinated.  After twelve years of that sort of schooling, why should they be any different?  And, since parents have willingly abandoned much of the responsibility of raising their children to such school systems, they have no right to complain.

The question is, how can we snap our children out of such indoctrinated nonsense?  I honestly don't know whether that's possible in the short term.  At least, if the current shutdown shows parents what's going on and motivates them to do something about it, that can only help the younger generation - even if some of their older siblings are effectively write-offs until they learn better in the School of Hard Knocks.



Unknown said...

Here's a great analysis on how to cut the cost of higher education:

A long read but worth it.

Don in Oregon

johnnyrotten said...

The parents might ask about this but the college kids that work for me will still want that 'college experience'. Colleges as they are ain't going away. Some of those with predominately older students might have issues but the typical schools won't feel a thing.

Billll said...

I read a book some years back about a low level coder who made a bootleg copy of a "book" written to provide an education to a rich mans daughter. He gave the bootleg copy to his own daughter who used it to make herself unusually successful. Forget the title. Might have been Neil Stephenson.

We are ready now for a cheap laptop containing lessons for grade levels, say 4 at a time, that a kid can take home and peruse. Certificates of completion would be available for each course or grade level, and no speed limits thus would be imposed. It would quickly become apparent that great social approval would accrue to those doing well or quickly.

The "books" would only contain 4 years of coursework at least partially to keep the book itself from becoming obsolete before all the work was accessed. These could be produced and loaded by various institutions (Harvard, Praeger, etc) at very reasonable priced, constantly driven down by competition or up by quality, real or imagined.

The future of education?

Old NFO said...

One hopes that this will at least weed out some of the more egregious courses that are being fostered on the children and expose the useless courses!

SiGraybeard said...

I got a laugh out of reading a few people who were thinking their children were really getting educated and then started getting involved directly because of the shutdown. Then they really saw it was just indoctrination.

A parent complained that their child was assigned completely unrelated work. If I recall correctly, the lesson was about a black rap singer who wasn't allowed to work in Nashville. The class was high school physics.

If ever there was cause for rope, tar and feathers, that's got to be one.

Aesop said...

As I said over at Commander Zero's blog:

Brick and mortar education just died in this crisis, even if they don’t know it yet.

Leftist indoctrination prisons and overpaid teachers unions will be the losers in the end. Great instructors, at any level from K-PhD, will move towards rock star status. If you’re going to take Econ 101, do you want to get that credit from Prof. Fluff from Bugtussle Community College, or Thomas Sowell? Why take astronomy and astrophysics from Prof. Pointyhead Shortbeard, if you could get it from Neil Degrasse Tyson?

Gonna be a lot of available campus real estate opening up in the next decade. The only reason to have a campus is to support the sports program.

Boo frickin’ hoo.

Sam L. said...

I was a missileer in the AF. When I got assigned to a Minuteman wing, I got into the Minuteman Education Program. The MMEP was an inducement to induce volunteers to go to Minuteman wings (Titan II wings did not have that inducement, but they weren't in the Frozen Northlands.) I got an MBA there, with classes on base.

Rob said...

The Education Industry.

McChuck said...

For a more in-depth view of the problems at colleges and universities, check out the archives at the blog of Professor Doom (R.I.P.).

Confessions of a College Professor:

Fredrick said...

You are buying social prestige and a connection to the better off amongst your age-peers. As the first commenter points out, lots of kids want the 'experience', i.e. 4 years of little responsiblity, enough money, and plenty of time to screw around. It's like being retired with enough money and none of that 4 decades of working and saving to make retirement happen.

Anonymous said...

To continue Aesop's thought, there will be a 2-tiered "education system" in a few years: One tier will be the self- and specific-educated, the young people who want the knowledge and go get it. This will be a mix of home schooling, online education, and those specific learning tasks not available at home and online, such as lab work in chemistry, hands-on medical training, plus the tech trades, etc. Learning at home and using expensive facilities for a few weeks here and there will be so much cheaper and so more productive nobody worth hiring will do it any other way.

The other tier will be the colleges that survive, some of which will be smart enough to realize taking 4 years to learn 2 - 2.5 years of stuff is BS, and some of which will cling to the 4-year program.

Give it about 5 years to take full effect, and wear a cup, because the carnage will be epic.

Craig Mark said...

I think that there will be a new uptick in homeschooling. Thus far homeschooling has merely been an annoying flea to the Educational Indoctrination Complex. Other than trying to through up worthless harassing roadblocks and hindrances to it to make it difficult to do, like the anti-gun-owner clowns have done to to 2nd Amendment, homeschooling hasn't bothered the leftists and teacher's unions much.

Watch that change, now that the curtain has been drawn back and so many parents have awakened to what the indoctrination centers have been doing to little Johnny and Susie. We'll see a full-court press to restrict who can teach kids and what can be taught, once the leftists realize what this shutdown has wrought.

OvergrownHobbit said...

It's Diamond Age

Good book. Rubbish ending. But still worth a read.