Both candidates have been strong supports of charter schools, and both have shown broad support for reducing the burden of student loans. Trump is strongly anti-union. Clinton is likely to make a huge investment in preschool. Clinton is likely to follow Obama’s policies. Trump is more likely to fund school choice, letting the money follow the student even if the student moves out of the public education system.
Regulation has been subject to wide swings based on the discretion of federal and state policy makers, and the full effects of policies are often delayed for two to three years after a regulation is adopted. As a result, many administrators take a wait and see posture (we’ll be here years after you’ll be gone), since so many policies fizzle before they can be fully implemented.
Maybe focusing on student loans doesn't solve the underlying problem. Isn't the real question how do we make sure that students don't go to institutions where they are worse off after they finish than they were before they started?
Where are the EdTech Opportunities?
Schools are becoming more sophisticated, especially since a typical school system deploys over 30 different systems. They are not just looking at one-off solutions, they are more often looking at how any solution affects the total picture: does it make it easier for teachers, does it drive student learning, how does it affect other systems they have, does it provide needed easily accessible information to teachers and administrators, does it help the school with compliance and compliance reporting?
Still, a lot of money is wasted in EdTech. While other sectors can make claims that technology drives efficiency, in education there may never have been an instance where a school or district actually laid off people based on a technology solution. Imagine telling a parent that her son’s school is moving to 1:1 and that now there will be 60 in a classroom instead of 30.
Education moves a lot slower than other sectors; remember, it took 30 years for the overhead projector to move from the bowling alley to the classroom. One of the biggest problems is making teachers comfortable with teaching with technology, and that’s difficult to do when schools only have 1 tech support person for every 60-100 teachers. PD is an opportunity, with $2.3B in federal Title II funds.
If you’re a potential investor in education, this is not a sector you can just dabble in. It’s a tricky business and it’s very hard to scale. You’re more likely to get a return on a $30M business looking to grow to $100M than on a $3M one hoping to grow to $30M. And the failure rate of education startups is too high to make money on.
The best opportunities may be outside the US. There is a massively growing K12 population around the world, and everyone wants an IB or US style education for their kids, and an increasingly large number are able and willing to pay for it.
What does Arne Duncan think about education now?
Education should be a bipartisan priority, yet neither candidate is talking about the big issues of education. Don’t blame the candidates, it’s a reflection that no votes on education, it’s our fault.
The ultimate issue is making education lead to real jobs. How are we going to keep good jobs in the US when employers can go wherever the qualified workers are?
For-profit schools have been much more nimble than the public sector. They saw an unmet need, they have been able to scale. They are able to react to the market. But if for-profit schools do not police their own bad actors, the government is going to do it, and they are not going to like the results.
Early childhood education shows a 7:1 ROI. There is no excuse for society not to make that investment.
Since Common Core came out, 40 states have opted for tighter learning standards. That’s a good result.