The Next Bubble?

In talking to my friend Sylvia Martinez of GenerationYes! a while back, I had a horrifying thought. It’s taking me a long time to articulate it though, so bear with me.

We’ve watched over the last few decades as one sector of the economy has been subjected to bubble-ization. First it was the dot-com start-ups. Then it was the mortgage market. Then it was the financial markets. I’m sure there was a bubble in there I missed somewhere.

What if all this drum-beating about reform, reform is the lead-up to a massive “reinvestment” in American public schools? “Let’s clean out all the dead wood and tenured teachers, rebuild our damaged educational buildings and reform our way to the top with cash… yadda-yadda-boom-boom-boom!”

Ok. It’s dumb. For one, it’s conspiratorial, and implies the existence of some all powerful “they” who can manipulate public opinion decades out; and that market forces are that predictable; and that the U.S. even has that much money left in its coffers to carry out that reconstruction project on that grand a scale.

On the other hand, it sounds appealing, right? Tons of money flowing into schools that will fix the persistent leak over the library, update all the computers in the lab to the latest machines, and refurbish the gymnasium floor.

But none of that money is actually, directly going to education. It fixes infrastructure, sure. It makes education easier, maybe. But most of that money is flowing into school coffers only to flow right back out again — to construction companies, lumber supply yards, temporary workers, and the logistics groups that move the gear and people around.

The rising tide would float the boats of some schools… The ones already in relatively good repair. The others would get repaired, but they’re not really going to be fixed. And a lot of schools get the shaft.

But after the money is spent on stuff that isn’t, you know, actually education… Then what? What happens when the bubble bursts? Hmm?

Ok. Dumb, I know. I KNOW! Right? It’s dumb. Right, people? Right?

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