We should be preparing for the collapse of our public institutions, not just the schools, because they are indeed on an unsustainable course quite parallel to GM's. We already can't afford the Federal Pensions, Medicare, and Social Security promises made; and yet we've got this wonderful idea to add some sort of universal health-care, funded by yet-more taxes and regulations.
The truth is that 'if a man shall not work, neither shall he eat' -- not because he should noteat, or because we don't want him to eat, but because somebody has to pay his freight. If it's not him, it might be his children; or it might be his wife; or it might be someone he helped out when he was younger. It won't be "society," though, because they won't love him enough to make serious sacrifices for him, forever.
I keep meaning to make a list of the American institutions that have failed in the last decade or so, despite our having lived through a period of spectacular wealth creation. There's the CIA, Wall Street, Hollywood, the Big Three, CBS, CNN, the NY Times, AIG, Citibank, the Federal Reserve, NASA, California, Michigan, Illinois, the universities, the public schools, public employee unions, public pensions. I could go on, but you get the idea. These are institutions that have entered into a fatal drift, dependent on staggering amounts of money and credibility to survive, but rapidly depleting their stores of both. Each in its way has been captured by a combination of smug ideologues and timid bureaucrats content to continue the drift and decline, rather than the dynamic thinkers who might allow them to survive. Moreover, each of the above has political constituencies that would keep them in their present "zombie" form rather than allow them to gratefully expire for no better reason that they can't imagine life without them.