Free Doesn’t Work

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Oct 292016

Free Doesn’t Work

Free is a Short Term Diversion from the Real Problem

By Tom McDonald, October, 29, 2016

There is a lot of talk of “Free” in education today:

  • Free Community College for all, for example

I. What this double speak really means is MORE money, funding a flawed one size fits all, education system.

We have learned, from expensive trial and error, that more money spent within a flawed, 20th century system of teaching does not at all solve the immediate problem of 21st century, deep learning, because the problem IS NOT MONEY. The problem is the traditional education’s one size fits all teaching methodology, which does not empower ALL students with the tools to be successful. The result of spending more money, within an incumbent paradigm of a flawed one size fits all teaching paradigm, is the preservation of the Staus Quo. This costs us more money, but doesn’t solve the REAL problem of advanced relevant, effective, efficient, consistent, affordable, sustained, student success performance improvement outcomes, for ALL students (Educationally Innovative Pedagogy).

“FREE” K-12, by preserving a flawed, factory based, system of one size fits all teaching, has not, with more money spent, empowered all students to be successful. More money will not fix this problem, because the problem is not money.

“FREE”, Community College, will open up access, for some students, but will do nothing to ensure advanced student success outcomes, for ALL students. With some community colleges currently graduating as few as 15% of their full time students, “FREE” will perpetuate educational mediocrity, the Staus Quo. This will  do nothing to change the flawed 20th century, one size fits all teaching methodology, that DOES NOT empower individual students with advanced relevant, effective, efficient, consistent, affordable, sustained, student success outcomes, for ALL students.

“FREE” is offered, because it’s an easily understood concept and I’m assuming we all like getting something for “free”. Unfortunately free is not the correct solution to the problem.

II. The second reason “FREE” is not a good idea, is that “FREE” puts very little, if any, skin in the game for the students. Individuals like free, but they engage better, if they have something to personally lose within the transaction, even if its a small amount.

III. The third reason “FREE” is not a good idea is that it provides a third party payer, that works against the student and for the institution. The reason traditional education’s feet are into the fire is because we are personally, painfully aware of how ineffective they are AND how expensive they are. Direct experience and supporting data reflects this; Student; underemployment, unemployment, unaffordable student loans;  Societal consequences/additional costs resulting from drop-outs and graduates who learned nothing, or nothing relevant: employer shortages of trained employees, which requires additional training, crime, welfare, drugs, drug intervention, gangs, incarceration. We are NOW connected, directly, to the systemic flaws of traditional education. By making education “FREE’ we are buffering the pain, pushing it under the rug temporarily, not solving the real problem, which will resurface later on, historically more severe.

This is exactly what has happened with Obamacare. The real systemic problem with healthcare costs is not enough relevant, effective, managed care and not enough effective rationed care (commonly called cost containment). “FREE”, subsidized by the government, temporarily buffers the individual pain and takes individual awareness of the ongoing problem away from the participant, leaving cost containment efforts unchecked. This is why cost increases, for plan year 2017, will average 25%+. This is, far, far beyond intended results and far, far exceeding personal and government affordability.

Obamacare provided a subset of the real problem, access for all, which provided a short term respite from the pain.  It DID NOT, at all, address the real problem of sustained, long term affordability, nor effective cost containment.

IV. Last, but not least, you most often get what  you pay for. What did you expect, it’s free?  It tends to lower the bar in expectations and in obligations.

In an incumbent, flawed, ineffective, inefficient, inconsistent, traditional education environment, in serious need of 21st century, relevant, student success outcomes, providing the service for “free” sounds good, but doesn’t solve the real problem, which is relevantly, effectively, efficiently, consistently, long term affordable, empowering each and every student with advanced student success, performance improvement outcomes.

“FREE” provides a great sound bite. Unless we dig deeper and understand what the real problems are, we are being manipulated by others, for their short term gain, at our direct long term loss.

We all know “FREE” is never free. There is always some buried, catch involved that pops up later to bite us directly.

Let’s get involved. Let’s understand the real issues and become advocates for real solutions. We have lots to benefit, by doing so and lots to lose by not doing so.

Why Free College is a Bad Idea

Tom McDonald,; 608-788-5144; Skype: tsmw5752

one size fits all