In 21st-century America, hope and change comes from tech-inspired entrepreneurs.
Sadly, rather than letting these innovators lead the country forward, our politicians are more interested in protecting the status quo, regardless of how unsatisfactory it is.
Looking back, the best example of this dynamic was the 2008 financial industry meltdown. Rather than breaking up the big banks or encouraging fundamental reform, both the Bush and Obama administrations were primarily concerned with saving the very banks that created the mess.
While the banks can buy protection in Washington, they can’t provide the customer service needed to compete in the digital era. That point was underscored last week by Apple’s announcement that it will offer a new tap-to-pay system. Marketwatch.com suggests that an Apple iBank is “only a matter of time.” That will shake up the banking industry in a big way.
The same dynamic is at work in the field of education. For decades, reformers from all across the political spectrum have tried to improve our nation’s schools. Despite all the effort, little has changed.
That’s because the political process is committed to resisting change. But entrepreneurs are committed to making life better by innovating. The opportunity to do so in the education arena is enormous.
Consider this. A home-school curriculum costs about $600 a year, while we spend more than $10,000 per student per year for a public school education. Obviously, there’s a lot more to the public school expense than the curriculum, and most parents won’t even consider home schooling.
But, to entrepreneurs, the cost gap represents a truly staggering opportunity.
In fact, Khan Academy is taking it a step further. Khan describes itself as “an organization on a mission.” They want to change education “by providing a free world-class education for anyone, anywhere.”
There’s another benefit to removing education from the political process. Tech-inspired innovation also gives parents a greater voice in what their children learn and how they do it. In an era of political correctness and watered-down standards, that’s a huge issue for millions of loving parents. With such a great opportunity, there are undoubtedly plenty of entrepreneurs working on ways to radically re-invent school.
What they will come up with, nobody knows. But the end result will be determined by figuring out how best to serve students and their parents. Some parents might prefer school uniforms; others might not. Some might like a four-day school week, while others would stick with a traditional schedule. The potential variety is unlimited.
From a legal perspective, home schooling laws make it fairly easy to experiment, and innovators might bring groups of children together to “home school.” The possibilities are thrilling to contemplate.
It’s even possible to envision a “school” at the place where Mom or Dad works. Imagine how much easier and richer life could be if school was just down the hall. Companies that set aside space for such educational activity might find it to be a great recruiting tool.
Some experimental efforts will be wildly successful, while others will fail. But the best will survive to unlock enormous potential for future generations of students. That’s the kind of hope and change only tech-inspired entrepreneurs can deliver.
To find out more about Scott Rasmussen and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.