I’m getting closer to my colleague Mark Guzdial’s intellectual turf here, but I saw two things recently that made me pause and take a moment.
The first was an update on a fluid situation, the question of how much of a budget cut the University System of Georgia will take next year. It’s still a work in progress, note that the article says that there’s another meeting on Wednesday which concluded with a still fluid situation. The list of cuts, from each University appears towards the end of the article and it makes for sobering reading. I say that as a State employee myself, one who works for Georgia Tech.
The second was the announcement that Hawaii’s schools will be moving to a four day school week. I’m not a parent, but I can imagine that this is going to be something else for the dual-income parents of Hawaii. There’s always been an alignment between the school week and the work week, not perhaps a complete one, but this is certainly going to expose more of the assumptions that come with that alignment. And that’s not even a thought about education. As the article comments, people are concerned about the educational impact on Hawaii’s children with less instruction time.
Together they paint a picture of an educational system that is in transformation. No-one is predicting that this recession will end soon. Many suggest that there will be recovery, but it will be slow. The effects of this could be as long lasting as the generation experiencing it (those in education at this time). Intriguingly (and somewhat politically I’ll observe) it is the people who are largely not in education who are deciding the fate of those who are.
Recently, Dick Lipton posted an article about education, asking could Universities become extinct in the next 25 years, one that Mark and I built on. I have to wonder whether these are just two data points, in a sea of others that set up the conditions for just such an event. If we’re optimistic, we can hope that at the end of this time we’ll look back and be able to see innovations that set up better conditions for the next generation. I’m trying to keep focused on that. And, one bright spot, the University of Michigan.