Losers Magazine (tm) Article No. 6 (10/5/95) by Carl E. Person

First Published 10/5/95; Last Correction (Links Only) on 11/21/03

The Role of Education in Our Economy

The existing restraints in the nation's educational systems have been discussed elsewhere. What we need to look at is what our educational system could be, if it did not have these restraints.

Parents would be able to choose from a smorgasbord of educational offerings for school children from kindergarten through high school. The best teachers would rent school space in buildings formerly (or even simultaneously) housing public school activiti es and would attract students to their offerings by reason of excellence in results. The better schools, employing the better teachers, would obtain more income and attract better teachers by paying them more.

Parents, using a voucher system in which one or more governments pay for all or most of the tuition, would be able to select a variety of private schools to make up a child's overall curriculum, including a private music school, a private school for theat re, a private school for mathematics, and so on, or one big school offering everything, depending on the parents' and children's preferences.

At the college and university level, private (proprietary or career) schools similar to the one I founded and ran for 18 years, would offer competing courses for $2 per hour or so (instead of the $30 or $35 per hour now being charged by many colleges and universities), and give certificates of completion which would be a substitute for the degree which state-monopolized concept fools millions of persons into believing that there is no substitute.

Actually, private career schools, specializing in giving low-cost, better instruction in competition with high-priced colleges and universities, would be able to have students getting better jobs, I think, by reason of the better (more competitive instruc tion, where bad teachers could and would be fired), and the better jobs after graduation (i.e., completion and award of the comparable certificate). Employers would rather have a person with a better education who owes no student loans than a person who comes from a high-cost college or university and owes $50,000, which indebtedness will make for an unhappy employee, one who might have to take a second job to pay off the loan.

Thus, economics will ultimately prevail in the educational field, if given a chance. All that is needed is for competition to be permitted, by use of the voucher system for kindergarten through high school, and by elimination of student loans and creatio n of equal regulation for post-secondary schools.

When competition is permitted at the post-secondary level (meaning in career programs for persons beyond high school, for adult education, and for programs offered by colleges and universities), the high cost schools will be required to produce or go out of business, or reduce their costs and lower their tuition to save their businesses.

I'm not sure that colleges and universities can actually compete very successfully against a well-run career school. The reason for this observation (after 18 years of competition by me) is that privately-owned career schools will usually adopt some for o f rolling admissions, which is what I called the system which I started in 1972, which permits students to start class at any time, or at the beginning of any week or 2-week period, so that there is no bunching up of students for entry only in Sept ember, January or June, as is the case with most colleges and universities.

Thus, private schools would and do offer training when needed, not when it is convenient for a college or university to give, which has to worry about the months or years of vacation or sabbatical time which it has promised its professors under various un ion contracts.

But a more important thing is that the tenure of college and university professors makes it almost a sure thing that the full-time professor who is being protected in his/her employment with the institution is not someone who is keeping up on the advances which should be taught.

Proprietary and career schools, on the other hand, usually hire directly from the persons who are actually doing what they teach and are more apt to know what is happening in the workplace. This factor perhaps more than anything else, suggests that priva tely-owned career schools would expand, if permitted by state and federal regulations (which currently are most discriminatory against proprietary schools), and force colleges and universities to shape up (and do similarly) or go out of business.

Competition by career and proprietary schools would be a good thing, but it is exactly what colleges and universities do not want. The country, however, needs the competition I am seeking.

Colleges and universities take years to turn around and offer new or improved programs, but by the time that the improvements are made, the programs are already obsolete. Career schools, on the other hand, can offer a new program in one day, if given a ch ance by the regulators.

If a new chip or computer program is being introduced, a career school could start instruction on the program the next day, and turn out trained persons ready to accept jobs looking for such skills, but colleges and universities, with their semesters and committees, cannot do the same, with the results that graduates pay a lot for very little.

What this country needs is a better, less costly way for you and I to obtain whatever instruction we need to do what we want to do. Internet may well be the next career school or university which all educational institutions will have to compete with.

The end result for our nation's educational system is that information and training must be readily available to all at a reasonable price. College and universities are a luxury for the persons working there, and a financial plague for the students who pay the exorbitant costs (through their parents' own resources, or through student loans which have to be paid off over the years). Too much money is spent for things which students don't want and don't need, at a price which is too high, and which can't be afforded by students.

With a class of 30 students each paying $2 per hour for instruction, there is $60 to cover teaching and administrative costs, but why do colleges and universities charge $30 or $35 per hour (or $900 to $1,050 per hour of instruction). You and I can affor d $2 per hour per child, but we can't afford $30 or $35 per hour, which you have to remember is after taxes (or $60 to $70 per hour before income taxes).

Underemployment, unemployment and unprofitable small businesses are traceable to the lack of skills in humans, which a good educational system can cure. A person is underemployed because he doesn't have the skill to find a job or doesn't have the skill n eeded in a job, either of which can be remedied by education, if it is made available at a price the student can afford.

Small businesses are plagued with the problem that the persons who run them are multi-skilled, but the persons who come out of our existing educational institutions have very little to offer, and therefore are not worth hiring. I have seen this in 30 years' experience. Small business can't take the time to bring employees up to the required level of training; it is too time-consuming and costly for the small businessperson. It is easier and less costly to do the work himself/herself.

This could be changed by educational programs designed for the small businessperson. For such an educational program see my pamphlet explaining how to ask for a raise and get it, which gives the basics of the career field I created of the Personal Assistant or Business Assistant. The title is HOW TO DEMAND MORE MONEY AND GET IT!, A How-to-Succeed Manual for Employees of Small Business. Pamphlet Giving Instruction for Employees of Small Business.

Finally, the reason that all the good things which could be provided by education are not available for us to use and evaluate is that the nation's laws do not give freedom for entrepreneurs to compete with the publicly financed schools system or the nati on's degree-granting colleges and universities. When competition is allowed, the nation's economy will expand dramatically most of us, but especially for downsizees, underemployeds, unemployeds and presently unprofitable small businesses.

The economy is suffering because of its inability to put human capital to work. High-class (competitive) affordable training is the way to turn this deficit into a major plus for the economy. The persons with a vested interest in preventing competition i n education have caused enough damage to the economy, and they should be required to adjust to the country's needs and not cause any further deterioration of the economy by opposing these needed reforms.

If any community or legislative group is interested in making things happen, it should contact me by fax (212-307-0247), e-mail (carlpers@ix.netcom.com) or by telephone (212-307-4444). I am anxious to help!

Copyright 1995 by Carl E. Person. Permission is given for non-commercial users to send a copy of the data processing file for this work by electronic means to a specific individual for his or her own use, and then only if the entire file is sent, including this copyright notice, but no permission is given for anyone to copy or transmit this file for or to any person for public viewing or downloading. It is intended by the author of this work that the work shall be made available in electronic fo rm only through LawMall (tm).