The Editors’ Quote of the Day:

“Like the larger context of suburbia, the giant consolidated schools seemed like a good idea at the time. The idea was to save administrative costs throughout a given district or region and the unanticipated consequence was to make education a loathsome and pointless experience for the students. The public schools are well on their way to just collapsing under the weight of their outlandish costs, especially their pension obligations, and the onerous school bus fleets.

Similarly, the colleges that have absorbed the flow of public school graduates — many of them ill-prepared for higher ed — using the loan racket to support their operations, are verging on criticality en route to collapse. Two colleges in my region shut down this year: Green Mountain College in Poultney, VT, and Southern Vermont College in Bennington. A third, Hampshire College over in western Massachusetts, is “looking for a new partner,” i.e. whirling around the drain. Many more will be following them.

The psychology of previous investment plays a big part in all this. Having spent so much of our national wealth building all this stuff, we can’t imagine letting go of it. And we built it during the decades of our greatest wealth accumulation. Now that we are paying today’s bills by borrowing from the future (i.e. accumulating massive debt), we can’t really continue to maintain all this infrastructure. But we’ll continue to pretend we can until we reach the moment of systemic criticality, where reality can no longer be denied. It’s liable to be messy. Like moments of criticality in natural systems — earthquakes, avalanches — financial shock tends to be quick, disorderly, and destructive.

The resolution of all this will be emergent, too, like its origin. That is, it will work itself out nonlinearly and chaotically. As for schooling itself across the whole spectrum from primary to higher ed, a lot of it will simply collapse and disappear, at least for a period of time, maybe a long time. It is most likely to reorganize on the fine grain of home schooling or home schools that aggregate into group teaching. But education will be nothing like the gargantuan enterprise it has been in our time. Some institutions of higher ed may survive, if they can downscale stringently. But anything organized at the giant scale is likely to find it very difficult to go on.” – James Howard Kunstler




6 Comments

  1. And St Joseph’s College has closed as well. Marlboro College was looking for a “partner” but that fell apart. We already lost Burlington College several years back. New England Culinary is in trouble too. I’d suspect that the state may even shut down one of it’s state colleges(perhaps the one with millions of dollars of deferred maintenance needed on it’s buildings). Too many colleges teaching useless subjects at high prices producing too many graduates(and plenty who never graduate) that are deep in debt and still lack useful skills.

    Unlike some states, our community colleges are expensive and mostly geared towards taking courses which will allow one to transfer to a 4-year program. We lack useful programs that are found in other state community colleges such as welding, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, allied health etc.

    I don’t have any issues with the concept of higher ed; I’ve got 3 degrees myself and have taught in a number of colleges. What we’ve got now though isn’t sustainable and isn’t worth the money imho. We need to teach useful skills foremost. And critical thinking skills would also be high on my list of desirable skills one should leave college having learned.

  2. Our local community college is thriving. But it has partnered up with the state college to provide an excellent nursing program and an engineering program that caters to people going to night school.

    Not far away there is a raging liberal arts community college that even the liberals are starting to avoid now. They are eating their own and imploding.

  3. James Howard Kunstler – We May Not Have a 2020 Election
    (YouTube Video)
    Greg Hunter
    Oct 29, 2019
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLlOJX3aVrQ
    Duration – 31:46

    Comment:
    Greg Hunter
    6 days ago (edited)
    (You Tube Demonetization update: After two days with little or no monetization in this video, You Tube sent me the following email at 6:12 am that reads: “Great news! After manually reviewing your video, we’ve determined that it is suitable for all advertisers:” “Great News” after you robbed me of money and got my work for next to nothing? So, it was good the whole time you withheld advertising? YouTube is incompetent, evil or both. Enjoy!)

  4. Kunstler’s comments are interesting. I read the whole article and his general condemnation of suburbia.

    His thoughts appeal to me in one sense because I generally dislike suburbia. I live in the woods and have always said if I did not I might prefer to move downtown and walk everywhere rather than move to suburbia.

    However what I fail to grasp is where Kunstler thinks we came from. He seems to present some kind of past world in which people lived in artistic environments with great public spaces where everyone interacted peacefully and were nurtured and…

    The reality of past life for the majority of our ancestors was grinding urban or rural poverty in filthy environments with hunger and violence ever present. Surburbia may be desolate in some ways but for the majority of the population it was an improvement over their previous lives or the lives of their parents/grandparents who lived in filthy shacks or tenements. The wealthy lived in perhaps more interesting environments but not the common man.

    1. You offer an important reality check, JBH. Many people of my acquaintance romanticize the past…”the good old days”.

      As some now-forgotten (by me) band sang in the 70s, “These are the good old days”.

      Carry on

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