Common Core Seizes Control of Future Internet Education

As education follows retail out of brick-and-mortar buildings onto the internet, consumers widening choices clearly threaten government’s control of what the public’s kids are taught and what they are not taught.  Hence the current "Common Core" mandate, by which the federal government has enlisted the states to federalize the U.S. school curriculum, cutting off traditional local control.  Once you control what is taught, you needn’t care where, by whom, or how that is done, you have eliminated all competitors.

While the Common Core program is overtly directed at public, private and home elementary and secondary education, it quietly captures higher education as well, since control of the high school exits provides control of the college entrances.  Additionally, a bill now in Congress carries the Obama administration proposal to regulate private colleges that provide career training; that plus Common Core represents a fair start toward total federal control of U.S. education.  It seems telling that so comprehensive and far-reaching a shift in a democracy is not seen as newsworthy.

It’s obvious that some hundred and thirty thousand public K-12 campuses and their staffs are no longer cost-effective when the internet is an available replacement.  It is equally obvious that all those teachers and their unions and their Democratic lobbyists will not go quietly into that good net.  Taxpayer interests in a major reduction of school taxes will likely be ignored so long as those taxpayers remain quiescent.  Facing today’s economic uncertainties, the dissolution of public campuses seems unpredictable.  But no matter how it comes about, the replacement of physical schools by internet-delivered courses seems likely at some point, if only when government becomes unable to provide financing any longer.

Time will be needed to replace the other service now school-provided: the weekday incarceration of children, freeing parents (if "freeing" fits) to work.  In-home babysitters might once have been an affordable alternative, but states have been bringing home service providers under minimum wage/overtime protection and pushing them into unions.  The Obama administration has announced a six-month delay for similar federal rules.  This economic change plus workplace regulation seems likely to prevent daycares from offering significantly cheaper services than schools now provide.  A recent report said that in 31 states, day care already costs more than college attendance.  This increase in what was once a low-cost service is the direct result of government licensing, regulation, and wage controls, so the internet replacement of physical schools may be delayed even further.

From here on, we will be increasingly paying expensive teachers for what amounts to babysitting services for younger kids while the internet educates them.  The process is under way; internet content is already showing up in public schools.  It seems likely to expand faster than teachers’ rosters are likely to diminish.

High schools may be a different matter; kids of those ages should be able to be instructed at home, alone if necessary, although we should expect a fuss over "socializing" and sports.  Those can be provided much cheaper for home-schooled kids by the private sector.  A more legitimate issue will be the provision of hands-on shop training, though that too can be privatized.  In a return to yesteryear, perhaps high-schoolers could be employed part-time outside the home in addition to their schoolwork.  Not only would that help sustain the home; it would provide valuable, presently missing work experience for the students and perhaps allow more small businessmen to forego illegal employees.  Democrats and unions, however, will not like the idea...

At the moment, phasing out physical schools seems a carrot on the far end of a long stick.  However, U.S. city, county, state, and federal governments include too many in poor to very poor financial condition, often related to inadequately funded pension plans.  The plans may have been adequately designed at one time, but the Federal Reserve’s long suppression of interest rates and inflationary government policies have overtaken them while politicians have ignored the problem. All know of the federal debt and deficits to be resolved.  So government’s ability to continue financing large, costly services is coming under increasing pressure.

This goldmine’s canary is Detroit, currently struggling with a highly politicized bankruptcy, perhaps to be followed by Chicago and Illinois generally while many other cities and some states face similar challenges.  Divestiture of the huge expense of public schools could help a great deal.  The underfunded pensions cannot be dodged indefinitely; the baby boomers are now retirees, and their impact will continue to swell the demands for the inadequate pension resources.  They aren’t going to wait.  State and local governments will have to follow Detroit, Stockton, San Bernardino, and other cities into bankruptcy or obtain the needed money from public workers, taxpayers, or both.  Such needs may overcome political resistance to restructuring education.  

In any case, Common Core is a pre-emptive federal takeover of local education that will survive transition to the internet.  For as little attention as it’s receiving, it’s quite a power-grab.  Too, it carries some unadvertised consequences; the likely collapse of private schools will be one.  Why pay private tuition for your kids to learn what comes free over the internet?  Common Core is aimed at private schools, too, and free public K-12 education is already available online.  Some private education will likely avoid Common Core and command high tuitions, but it seems unwise to expect very many such institutions.  The present Catholic educational system faces a particular challenge as public education continues its ongoing divergence from Catholic doctrine while mandated mass testing relies upon Common Core curricula.

It’s amusing, after a fashion, that the Progressives so enamored of "diversity" are so dead set against any diversity in educating citizens.  The suspicious will use "brainwash" in lieu of "education" here, and if one recalls the works of John Dewey, the patron saint of the progressive education movement, the avowed goal is exactly to turn out useful and amenable citizens, and expressly not to educate critical thinkers who tend to be troublesome.  Regardless, Common Core is here; even a number of Republican governors have adopted it.  We may as well relax and enjoy it...