By Larry Ferlazzo
A new year is approaching, and most of us always optimistic educators will approach it with gobs of hope, along with some realistic trepidation. Here are some predictions for the coming year – not listed in any particular order.
- Public employee unions, including teachers associations (and the students, families and communities we support), will dodge a bullet that would eviscerate them when the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to support plaintiffs in the Freidrichs case. Unions will win on a deciding vote by – of all people – Justice Scalia.
- Hillary Clinton will win the U.S. presidential election and begin pushing a very different education agenda from the one pushed by President Obama. She will act on her stated opposition to the use of test scores in teacher evaluations and on her reservations about charter schools. And her first step in that direction will be appointing a secretary of education with similar beliefs. That person will be….I have no idea, and it doesn’t sound like many others have a clue, either. Many of the names I’ve heard so far sound great, but seem to fall into the category of “wishful thinking” – Deborah Meier, Linda Darling-Hammond, Pedro Noguera. However, perhaps some of those educators have a better shot than I might think. Martin O’Malley has also been mentioned, though I would think his attacks on Clinton rule him out as a potential appointee.. Who do you think would be on Clinton’s short list?
- The new Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will surprise many of us educators by making initial grant-making that actually supports efforts that agrees with many of our positions. This will be helped by the fact their new chief of staff actually is a former teacher (albeit for one year).
- The transition from the old No Child Left Behind law to the new Every Student Succeeds Act will quickly turn into a free-for-all, with an “every state for themselves” mentality reigning. Few are going to pay attention to a fairly toothless lame-duck Department of Education, and most states will move to present the new administration with a fait accompli in 2017. To many people’s surprises, the vast majority of states will come up with fairly decent plans and strategies for implementation.
- Billionaire Eli Broad will pursue his ill-considered plan to spend $500 million to create hundreds of charter schools and enroll half of Los Angeles’ students in them. However, it will create such a backlash that the California state legislature will pass bills making it far more difficult to establish charter schools in the state. His effort will remind people of the old organizing adage that your opponent will do your best organizing for you….
- Efforts to recruit and retain teachers of color, long pushed by giants like Gloria Ladson-Billings and others will bear fruit, as concentrated efforts in New York City and elsewhere begin to gain steam. Unfortunately, it will be a long climb – not least because of past and present racism and unsupportive institutional support.
- The recent OECD report pointing out the lack of success educational technology has had in improving student learning, and the growing recognition among researchers and educators that its use is not narrowing the “achievement” (or “opportunity”) gap, will result in the most serious effort yet to dramatically reassess how tech is being applied in our schools around the country. Top-down unilateral decisions will begin to give way to the “radical” idea of listening to teachers’ opinions and acting on them.
- I borrow this last one from educator Bill Ivey every year. He predicts that “Each and every school day will bring tens of thousands of reasons to celebrate in schools across the country.” That sure sounds good to me…
You might want to review Ferlazzo’s previous years’ predictions and evaluate the quality of his foresight: