What will “school” be 20 years from now? I am not ready to roll out my entire argument, but one result that I think is inevitable is that all schools, public and private, will increasingly fall into one of three categories (and probably some mixtures of the three):
- Struggling to stay open.
- Insulated from market forces by a combination of local demand, local demographics, financial resources, and reputation.
- Highly differentiated value and brand.
Like this rock perched on a slope, the forces holding the rock in place are eroding and the forces pressing the rock to roll are increasing. The number and range of opportunities for families to select education options for their children have exploded and will only increase over time. The traditional barriers to selecting a school that fits individual consumer needs and wants have fallen dramatically, and there is no reason to believe they will not fall further and collapse well before 20 years have passed. Where public or quasi-public institutions become open to market forces, the results may not be pretty for some, but they are predictable. It is social physics.