Fun_People Archive
1 Mar
The Contract On American Education

Date: Wed,  1 Mar 95 02:33:35 PST
From: Peter Langston <psl>
To: Fun_People
Subject: The Contract On American Education

From: (Daniel Steinberg)

>    The new Congressional leadership has vowed to reform the welfare
>    system. ...  Unfortunately, Congress is focused on the nation's less
>    expensive social welfare system, ...

Yes, it's all part of the Republican plan to have a Contract Out On America.
It keeps all those poor, underprivileged politicians and mobsters employed.

And speaking of reform, I'm surprised they haven't targeted the national
University system for commercialization.  Considering the tuition
projections for the next twenty years, you'd think someone would get the
bright idea that there's an awful lot of money going into what amounts to
a huge educational monopoly, and yet nobody with any political clout has got
a hand in their pockets.  The obvious step would be to eliminate non-profit
status for Universities and force a little competition in the marketplace.

The implications are enormous.  For one thing, they'd eliminate the silly
notion of 'tenure' that essentially guarantees an overpaid, under-trained
work-force.  Hiring and firing decisions would be based on current performance
(i.e., how much grant and tuition money is this professor bringing in?)
and slackers resting on their laurels would find themselves on the street
with a "Will Grade Papers For Food" sign in their hands.

Student housing, normally a significant proportion of expenses, would
benefit from a little competitive pressure, as well.  By allowing third-party
motel concessions on-campus, students would be able to choose between
luxury accommodations and discount flophouses.  Dorms offering cable TV and
sauna facilities would compete favorably with Motel 6, while the more affluent
could afford the Hyatt suites.  In-room facilities, such as Pay-per-View
Class Auditing and Mini-Bar Exams would bring in additional revenues, as
would laundry and in-room dining services.

Education expenses would have to be overhauled.  The outdated notion of a
single tuition fee would be replaced by itemized service fees and individual
class costs.  The price for each class would be determined according to
the tried-and-true methods of supply-and-demand.  This would create a dual
level of corporate competition:  each course would be competing against
all others within the University, and the pricing strategy of class
offerings among different Universities would be subject to buyer scrutiny.
The result would be a significant pressure to improve the quality and
relevance of course curricula.  Popular and effective instructors would be
rewarded with greater enrollment (tipping would be encouraged), while boring
and obnoxious professors would finally receive their due.  A small but
thriving market for University Guide Books, such as "College on $5 a Day",
would also develop.

Of course, the Universities would be forced to compete more aggressively
for market share (students).  Advertising expenses alone would return
enormous amounts of money to the proper hands.  All sorts of promotional
inducements could be offered to attract the 'smart' shoppers:  Easy Credits,
Term Paper Limits, Two-fer Class Coupons, Summer Vacation Packages,
Pass-Or-Don't-Pay.  Insurance companies could also get into the game with
Flunked Strivers Insurance, offering various premium levels according to the
number of course failures covered.

Student loan terms would be a natural place for market differentiation,
and could be modeled along the lines of home financing.  By introducing
variable-rate loans with a variety of indexes, students would be likely to
re-finance their loans several times, allowing all sorts of financing and
credit application fees to be raked in.  Instead of paying 'points' to
lower the guaranteed interest rates, students could pay higher interest
rates to be guaranteed extra grade points to boost their academic credit

Sounds preposterous?  Well, who would have thought in 1970 that the
world's cheapest and most reliable phone service would be dismantled in
favor of a nationwide network of scrambling competitors who each get to
charge what was formerly paid to just one company?  And who, today, isn't
sick to death of billboards, ads, junk mail, and promotional phone calls
pushing long distance services?  I'll bet the marketing agencies and
television networks are crying all the way to the bank.  Just you wait:
fairly soon now, even Danny Quayle will be able to buy a PhD.  Mark my words.

[=] © 1995 Peter Langston []