Golden Eggs and Geese

My school, and my superiors particularly, have got some bad press recently (“A Chain of For-Profit Art Institutes Comes Under Scrutiny“). I think, as I have said before, that we in the for-profit industry ought to welcome increased scrutiny and regulation.  We’ve grown quickly in the last 15 years because we filled a gap in the education system that the public institutions ignored. The next 15 years will be different.

I think that the age of Reagan– characterized by a freakish worship of markets and profits– is rapidly coming to a close.  Not all markets are going to be equally regulated and no doubt some insidious ideology of the Reagan kind will always be with us. But the free wheeling days are over. I also think online for-profit eduction is likely to be one of the poster kids for the new age of regulation. That’s one major change.

Another change is that the public institutions are, at least in some cases, returning to their historical mission of proving an affordable education to a wide audience. That too will happen only unevenly and inconsistently but  it will happen. In the next 15 years, then, for-profits won’t be able to recruit as aggressively and its claims about results will come under increasing scrutiny. Soon enough, too, we’ll have real public competition.

If we are going to survive in this new environment, and keep our geese alive, we need to be the poster child for long-term thinking in capitalism. A good analogy might be to the for-profit medical systems’ (admittedly uneven) embrace of preventive medicine.  We need to invest in teachers– that means full-time faculty with job security– and in developing the professional networks that will add substance to our claims.




About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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