Over the past several years, it seems that the independent school and private education sector has been preoccupied with how to innovate in the area of teaching and learning. No doubt the countless technological advances have surely accelerated this discussion. It seems that there are literally hundreds of conference sessions annually and thousands of evening Twitter chats on the subject of redesigning the classroom.
I'm really sorry to say this, but the last time I checked, independent schools and colleges have historically been pretty solid at the whole teaching and learning paradigm. Not that we can't improve - we can and we should. But, our teaching and learning environment is not an existential issue threatening our very sustainability. It actually turns out to be a strength.
I wish our real discussions were preoccupied with redesigning the business model in order to sustain our industry sector. We are in the early stages of a redefined industry. All of the indicators would tell us that independent schools, in particular, are a declining industry. We see softening demand, increased financial aid, declining enrollment, diminished net revenue, and fewer students being served across the nation. There are few markets of growth and virtually no independent schools are just humming along like a decade ago. The financial pressures are mounting and, at bare minimum, everyone on campus is working harder. We are in unknown territory.
We will be focusing our summer blog content on issues that impact our financial model. We will outline strengths that I believe we can call upon to sustain ourselves in this new normal. We will examine the real threats in the external environment that will surely impede our progress. We will take a few lesssons from the business sector to learn how they have historically responded to market decline. And, we will invite dialogue and contributions from you as we seek to advance our industry together. The weather may look great right now, but there is a storm looming big on the horizon.