It’s not especially hard to make conventional predictions for the education world in 2012:

*The U.S. Education Department will grant some states waivers from the most onerous requirements of No Child Left Behind.

*Congress will fail — again — to do a comprehensive rewrite of NCLB.

*Education Secretary Arne Duncan will keep pushing the Race to the Top initiative, so long as Congress provides the cash, ignoring the lack of evidence to support the reforms it requires.

*Resistance to high-stakes standardized testing will grow.

But here are some predictions you might not be expecting (and that should make you laugh and cry at the same time). They were written by Mark Phillips, professor emeritus of secondary education at San Francisco State University and author of a monthly column on education for the Marin Independent Journal.

By Mark Phillips

*President Obama will announce a new educational plan to increase achievement, restore teacher morale, and make us competitive with Finland. Entitled “Over the Top and Into the 22nd Century” it will be referred to five different congressional committees and become a major source of argument in the 2016 election.

*The 2012 Republican presidential nominee will make former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee his chief educational advisor and pledge to eliminate all but the top 1% of teachers, raise test scores (while leaving the question “which tests?” unanswered), decrease educational costs, and bring all our schools into the 21st century.

*The phrase “21st century learning skills” will appear in over 300 books and in more than 75 percent of educational columns and articles. In almost all of these the primary focus will be on raising test scores

*The primary hirer of the best new teachers graduating from our teacher training programs will be Finland. This will lead congressional conservatives to call for an embargo on goods from Finland.

*The American Federation of Teachers will publish a list rating the quality of educational coverage by all newspapers. These ratings will be numerical. The AFT will call upon citizens to consider firing these papers by boycotting them.

*A poll of high school students will list the internet as their primary source of education. Television will finish second.

*There will be at least three dozen national conferences on technology and education and another two dozen on the latest advances in brain science and their implications for education. Three schools around the country will implement these ideas.

*Almost all of the best minds in the field of education will publically criticize the emphasis on standardized testing. Almost none of the minds in our varied policy making positions will hear them.

*Having realized that much of educational policy in the United States is akin to a film noir, the newly formed Academy of Educational Arts and Sciences will hold its own academy awards.

The award for “Best Financial Performance by a School District ” will go to the New York City Public Schools for not only closing a record number of schools in 2011, but for planning ahead for even more closings in 2012. The district will also be lauded for contributing to a reduction in the immigrant population by especially targeting schools with high immigrant, second-language learners. Simultaneously, the district will be lauded for helping to decrease the lower class population in the city, thus raising real estate values in many neighborhoods.

The academy will also give the award for “Best Performance by a State in Increasing the Blue Collar Workforce” to California. The state has excelled at increasing the cost of public higher education, thus continuing the dissolution of free access to higher education through its statewide university systems.


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