Monday, December 19, 2016

College Meltdown at a Turning Point

[Image above: Turning Point USA, a neoconservative student group, has grown to more than 1100 high school and college chapters since its founding in 2012.]

The College Meltdown has been developing for decades. But now, it is at a turning point as the Trump Administration enters office.  Most likely, American colleges are headed toward more racial and ethnic tension, less transparency, and more corruption.  And the Trump Administration's solutions, which include privatization and deregulation, may not only accelerate the College Meltdown, their "hands off" approach to civil rights may increase conflicts on campus.

Donald Trump's selection of Betsy Devos and Jeff Sessions as US Secretary of Education and Attorney General have already sent a loud statement to those who research and analyze organizational effectiveness and institutional corruption in education.

The loud statement is that citizens should keep an eye out for even more discrimination, inequality, and fraud in K-12 education and higher education. Non-Christians and "others" with limited financial resources should be particularly concerned. But don't expect to get much information from the corporate controlled media--it would take too much work and it wouldn't be profitable.

For those interested in how education policy plays out over the next four years, we'll also need to know who will lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Trade Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Communications Commission, and how much those agencies will receive in funding for oversight of the US education industry.

Lack of oversight will accelerate opportunities for cronyism, nepotism, theft, lack of transparency, academic cheating, and intellectual dishonesty at the state and local levels

We also expect this increase in wrongdoing and poor decisions to be met with limited resistance and highly framed media attention.

Over the last two decades, tens of billions of dollars have already poured into charter schools despite lack of evidence about their effectiveness. Charter school enrollment has risen from about 300,000 in 1999 to about 2.5 million children in 2015 (about 5% of all school children).

Government-fed media stories may show structural failure that has been existent for generations and corruption that has cropped up in the age of increasing school choice. But ideological perspectives and power will influence which sides get the most attention, the quantity and quality of background information provided, and which stories (if any) gain the most traction.
"School choice," "empowerment," "opportunity," "religious freedom," "union corruption," "failing schools," "local control," "merit pay," "vouchers,"   "political correctness," "safe spaces," and "micro-aggressions" will be terms widely used to frame stories about US education.
For every action by all of these educational players, there will be a set of reactions from multiple sides. Vested interests include banks, private equity, hedge funds, philanthropies and foundations, for-profit and non-profit education and educational services companies, political parties, teachers union leaders, marketing and advertising companies, construction unions, pension funds, lobbying firms, think tanks, public relations businesses, and media outlets.
   Liberals may secretly like vouchers, so their children can get tuition breaks for private school attendance, or chances to get out of dangerous or failing public schools.   
Much of the action will also be at the state and local level and may not be reported by major news outlets.
The Libertarian Cato Institute has created a public schooling "battle ground" map about various neoconservative conservative social issues that are being fought across the country.

Outside players such as student debt groups, adjunct professors, and teacher resistance groups will also be involved, but will likely be marginalized or silenced.

We cannot predict what will happen exactly, but power, influence, and organizational effectiveness will be large determiners of what unfolds. And deals between power players behind the scenes may be vastly different than what is presented in the media.
Some people will profit from the direction the nation's educational policy is going. But a larger number will suffer. We don't expect society as a whole to understand the consequences for quite some time. 
  • Parents with high hopes will place their children in lotteries for high-demand charter schools. But most will be disappointed.
  • About 0.5% of American children are currently enrolled in online charter schools. But this number could expand with deregulation, even if their educational value is in question.

While we construct this article, we suggest that you read three of our previous reports.

We invite feedback and opinions from all sides with interests in the education business and will respond to every comment we receive. Our email is

No comments: