Friday, October 1, 2010

Build No New Schools?

Reading and listening to far-thinking educators, and observing the revolution now going on in high school and university education, it occurs to me to say out loud what might have been unthinkable, much less unsayable, only a few year ago, that is it may no longer necessary to build (always expensive) new junior and senior high schools, and (even more expensive) new buildings on college and university campuses.

The online education movement, these educators are saying, is the inevitable future of education. I believe them. It is not that education is any less important. In fact, it is more important than ever. It is not that good teachers are not necessary. In fact, they are more necessary than ever. The point is that the very physical structure of public and private education has been, and will continue, to be fundamentally altered in rapid sequences. The computer and its many software applications, now also evolving with astonishing velocity, is making so-called modern (and expensive) school buildings, equipment, furnishings and other paraphernalia as outdated as the one-room schoolhouse.

The economics of education, by coincidence, is reaching a seemingly insoluble crisis. The needs are greater than ever, but the cost of providing it are becoming hopelessly too great, especially for a fair and universal public education system. Taxpayers cannot reasonably be asked to contribute more. But if the costs of constructing and repairing buildings and other physical facilities for this public education is dramatically reduced or even eliminated, AND the quality of the education provided is greatly simultaneously improved, we have a fortuitous resolution.

This subject requires much more discussion than I can provide here at this time, but readers can count on my returning to this subject with specific numbers, facts, and cost savings in future columns.

Meanwhile, I encourage readers to send in their own thoughts on the subject.

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