The Three Issues In Education Which No One Talks About – Part 2

Last week’s and this week’s articles focus on two issues no one seems to talk about when discussing education and the difficulties we’re experiencing by preparing changing children in a changing society for a changing future which is completely unpredictable.

Last week’s article’s theme was that everyone seems to forget that parents are the primary educator of their children – not the school.  The problem with that truth is that parents today are not necessarily “responsible” parents.  There may be family issues, there may be neighborhood issues, there may be drug and alcohol issues, there may be poverty issues – and it’s the school that’s expected to fix all those issues by providing whatever services are necessary to ensure that every child succeeds.

Services like this costs money – and in the public school mindset, everyone expects everything the school provides to be “free” to them.  The problem is the money has to come from somewhere, and it needs to come from multiple sources.  The issue is that schools have relied upon taxes to fund their service – and when there are no more taxes from an eroding infrastructure, or from tax credits given to businesses to encourage them to relocate or build in a particular area, then the entire community suffers.  This issue was particularly exacerbated when school buildings  closed due to the pandemic, and parents were forced to deal with their children’s education.  Consequently, many parents have realized that it’s time to change their focus to what’s really important in their lives.

Now you may think that businesses that take care of those services which schools need employ people, and that helps the economy.  Sure…in the short-term.  What do you think will happen to those businesses when those tax credits mentioned have ended?  Are those businesses going to remain in that community?  There’s a good chance they’ll be looking for the next Enterprise Zone or a place with an advantageous tax climate for businesses.

The second issue is no one pays attention to deadlines today.  This is particularly prevalent in faith-based or private schools where tuition is being charged, applications for financial aid are filed and enrollment fees are paid.  It’s not that parents don’t want to re-enroll their students for the following school year…it’s that they expect exceptions will be made for them.

It’s a well-known marketing principle that scarcity creates action.  Limited-time offers, a declining number of remaining seats on an airplane, or special financing deals encourage consumers to take action or let the offer expire.  The problem in many tuition charging schools is that they aren’t filled to capacity, and since there’s no waiting list, then the parent thinks, “Surely they’ll accept my child whenever I feel like getting around to it because there are more pressing matters I need to deal with.”

Three examples:

  1. Parents are told in November that the deadline to apply for financial aid at a faith-based school is April 15, and are repeatedly reminded throughout the following months that the deadline is April 15.  However, they may have filed an extension, and the government gives them until October 15 to file.  Unfortunately, the assumption is made that the school will also extend their deadline.  When they discover that the deadline really is April 15th so that schools can plan effectively and award financial aid for the school year that starts in July, as they were told and reminded, they request an exception be made for them because they just assumed that deadline was really according to the federal deadline, and the school just forgot to explain this to parents (even though they were told – they just weren’t told individually, but rather by a letter and posting that appeared of the school’s parent portal – which the parent never checks).
  2. Parents are told that the deadline for enrollment for returning families is March 31.  This is to ensure that current parents have seats for their students before new applications are considered.  Unfortunately, the number of returning families falls below the threshold necessary to continue to operate the school with the budget that was created in February.  The announcement is then made in April that the school will not be open for the following school year.  Parents awaken, and complain that they didn’t know things were “that bad financially.”  In reality, they weren’t!  Finances were not the issue.  Then parents say that they thought the deadline was to ensure their child had a seat, and since there isn’t a waiting list, then that’s not an issue.  However, the unspoken reason that a deadline existed was to ensure than there would be enough students to be able to fund the school for the coming school year – and that’s not usually something a parent excited about enrolling their student in the school wants to hear.  Doing so infers that the school is existing from year to year, and parents enrolling students in a tuition-charging school are usually considering having their child there for the duration of their education.  Those parents that shift to a “let’s see what happens next year” mindset usually end up disenrolling their children sooner rather than later.
  3. A friend of mine once shared on Facebook in May that he was completing his local taxes, and it was after the federal deadline, explaining he ALWAYS files for a 6 month extention whether he needs it or not.  Even if a school had made an exception, once they’re granted, the exception becomes the expectation.

Next week, we’ll look at something else people don’t do today…completing the 3 issues affecting education that no one talks about.