Sunday, March 27, 2011


I've been following the education industry for several years. The issue affects both rural and urban dwellers, and yes, it is an industry.

I'm afraid that higher education is headed for a crisis. In the U.S., schools have gradually shifted focus away from academics to athletics. (NCAA Section IX didn't solve the problem: it shifted emphasis to women athletes, rather than away from sports.) Athletics can help build character etc., but that is not what inter-mural programs are designed to do. They are PR programs. Schools are forgetting their original purpose, which is academic training.

Another problem is that declining youth populations have decreased demand, leaving schools with empty seats. They have compensated by aggressively recruiting foreign students, but overseas schools are starting to catch up in academic quality. They still have a long way to go, but they are pouring resources into the classroom instead of the stadium, so watch for them in the future.

When the auto industry focused on side businesses such as finance and on union problems, foreign firms were able to catch up by focusing on manufacturing automobiles.

Your local public schools could be training tomorrow's innovators. Are they doing that, or are they chatting about next Friday's game with a rival, another tiny school?

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