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The Auto Industry and Our Education System

Even though many could see it coming for decades, only now does the general public see the results of short-sighted management at GM and the other U.S. auto manufacturers. Of course, their possible demise wasn’t due to a single bad decision by those in charge, but the culmination of years of poor choices, including:

  • Caving repeatedly to union demands
  • Looking to the past rather than to the future
  • Failing to “explore” during good times
  • Looking inward rather than being customer-centric

When an organization ignores sound business economics, accepts irrationally higher labor costs, and expects the consumer to pay ever-increasing prices without shopping for better value, it is delusional. When it continually looks to history for inspiration rather than innovate, they are inviting competition to blindside them. When it ignores the opportunity to try new things when they have the wind at their back, it means change will only occur in an environment of desperation. When an organization is introspective, it cannot “hear” its customers and has no hope of satisfying them.

A company might commit any one of these “sins” and still survive, but has virtually no chance of existing for long when failing on every count. If the U.S. auto companies survive… and there is absolutely no assurance that will happen… they will be but a shell of their former selves. Sadly, most of the damage was self-inflicted.

Now, compare these observations to our education system. Can you see any parallels? I absolutely do!

The education system has become a union-driven monolith. Unfortunately, “management” is ALSO a part of the union, so there is not even a counter-balancing of interests. Labor costs have increased significantly over the past few decades with no commensurate increase in quality… in fact, most objective measurements of quality indicate it has actually declined. The organization has become very top heavy… administration apparently is more important than the “production line”. Despite new technologies, actual teaching has changed little. And, while giving great lip service to the general public, “educators” seem to look to each other for guidance far more often than they do their “customers”, parents and students.

There is one HUGE difference between the auto industry and the “teaching business”, though, that is very worrisome. While wise car buyers can shop around and find the best values, our school system offers little flexibility to their customers. Perhaps there is a choice between the public school to the west of your home and the one to the east, both schools are usually just cookie-cutters of each other… so what’s the point? And private schools are only an option for those willing and able to “pay twice” for their kids’ education since private tuition will be added to the mandated taxes that now support public education.

Furthermore, since funding is both indirect and mandated, it is hard for the “consumers” of education to vote with their dollars and take their business to the competition. All of these factors puts the power in the hands of the providers and removes it from those who are actually paying the bills… which is ALWAYS a bad combination if your goal is to get a job done both well and economically.

Given that education is funded through the government, the factors that would doom any private company could be sustained for a much longer time… but not forever. A flawed system will inevitably fail.

So, the question is: will we learn the lesson of the auto companies and proactively adapt our education system… or will be continue to throw good money after bad until it implodes?

Unfortunately, we’re not talking about buggy whips or betamax. The demise of a product or company is just part of a business cycle. Our eduction system… or the results it produces… has a profound and fundamental impact on our very way of life in this great country.

The U.S. education system was once the pride of our nation, something admired by nations all over the world. It is no longer. Our students were once taught to be informed, thinking, responsible citizens and we ALL benefited. In the past few decades, there has been a recognizable shift in the system. It has become a self-serving congregation of ideologues who, for the most part, are motivated far more by indoctrinating generations of students than molding men and women of true learning and principle. They most certainly have lost sight of what made our country great in the first place, give no credit to the fundamental characteristics that were responsible for our rapid rise in the world community, fail to acknowledge the considerable contributions were have made to the betterment of life for not only our own citizens but millions all over the globe, and distort history to denigrate values based on our Constitution.

Our current system of education is not producing real leaders, it is manufacturing sheep. Rather than building everybody up to a higher level, contributing to a steadily rising standard in our country… it is dumbing down the populus. And, once the majority of citizens are sufficiently dumb, they can be shepherded anywhere by the wily and the cunning, by smooth-talkers and liars and cheats, and by the promisers of green pastures who lead them to slaughter.

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