Jan 6, 2021

The Reckoning Begins


Educators and economists alike have been predicting a reset of education for years. They have warned that the occurrence of one or two catastrophic events could reshape the entire education landscape. They have argued that tuition was too high, expense structures were too bloated, and private schools and colleges were not centered on the needs of the market, just the needs of a minority.

And, they were right. So, the reckoning begins.

Don’t get me wrong. I am hopeful for the future. While we are in worst moment of the pandemic currently, we have vaccinations being distributed slowly across the nation and the globe. It will be a year of repair and rebound, with in person events and programming slowly coming back. My guess is that 2021 will feel a lot better than 2020 in just a few short months.

But, make no mistake, education will be forever changed. The changes will have the most profound impact on private, expensive, and selective institutions. They have been trying to solve the wrong problems and asking the wrong questions for too long, such as:

  • How do we find more full pay families? The right question here is how do we scale our price and expenses to meet the needs of the market?

  • How do we remain selective in our admissions process? The right question here is how do we make our programs more accessible to those who need us?

  • How do we market ourselves better and be better known in our community? The right question here is how do we better connect and make meaningful and relevant relationships in our own backyard?

  • How do we acquire more diversity in our schools? People were meant to be understood, not acquired. Diversity through acquisition is among our most significant moral sins as an industry. The right question is how do we gain cultural competency and fluency in order to attract audiences that can see themselves in our community?

Our industry has been plagued with seeking solutions to the wrong problems for some time. That time is over and we will see the innovative, strategic schools and colleges rethink their role, programs, learning systems, and expense structures. The smart ones will start now, or have already started.

Sure, people will be excited to get back into the classroom, on campus, and at sporting events. We are all excited to get back to what we once had just a year ago. But, we all know that what just happened in virtual learning will not go away. It will change the way we deliver, price, and scale education to market. And, maybe, it will make our institutions more viable and sustainable in the process.

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  1. mgomezsixto@nnms.org on February 27, 2022 at 3:12 am

    I wonder where Montessori pedagogy falls within this. I recently attended a conference where the theme was about what do we do now because education cannot look the same and much of what many of the speakers/researchers from Stanford were saying sounded very familiar to the Montessori approach. It was interesting that their suggestions were proposed as this new way of doing education. All I could think of was, we are already doing it. Hands on, collaboration, advocacy, debate, etc

    The framing of your questions and answers hit an area that I’ve been wondering about – the rise in tuition and making our school/Montessori more attainable for a greater audience that represents the population of Chicago. I’d love to hear other ideas about this.

    Please excuse typos as my phone and fingers do not always align.

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