Each January signals a new year. When a new year begins, we have expectations of hope and new opportunities. This is a chance for a fresh start. 2017 brought us some good stories, but 2018 is sure to bring even more changes in education.
1. Will Kindergarten become mandatory Indiana?
Currently, Indiana Superintendent Dr. Jennifer McCormick has shared her priorities. One of her top priorities is changing the age when children must enter school. Currently, the compulsory schooling age is seven in Indiana. Dr. McCormick would like to see that age lowered to five. I am in a total agreement with the Superintendent. Waiting until age seven is not good for a student’s long-term educational well being. I truly hope this is accomplished in 2018. I believe this is one lever to help solve the educational problems in our state.
2. Will the charter movement slow down?
2017 was no different than the previous three years in regards to the charter school movement in Indiana specifically Indianapolis. We saw more schools approved and opened. Going into 2018, there are at least eight new charter schools opening. A major question is, “What will 2018 hold for the charter movement?” Can we expect the same influx of school openings? I know there will not be a shortage of applications; however, will the various charter authorizers slow down to see if the ones that are currently open are effective?
3. Will Betsy DeVos make it through 2018?
One of the many problems with the current administration occupying the White House is the lack of vision in regards to education. Betsy DeVos became the US Secretary of Education which included many fumbles on her part. From the confirmation hearing with the statements about guns and grizzlies bears to her being booed by students at an HBCU graduation, and her infamous comment that “HBCUs were pioneers of school choice,” her list of mistakes are ever growing. I wonder will she make it another 365 days as US Secretary of Education. I saw a study that said she had the lowest approval ratings of anyone in 45’s cabinet. We know how much he cares about ratings, so with her being the weakest link, maybe 2018 be her final year as the US Secretary of Education.
4. What will the final year of I-STEP scores look like?
Officially in 2017, the very controversial and often-ridiculed Indiana Assessment for student performance, the I-STEP, will end after 2018. ILEARN will be the next assessment. It took a few years, but a new assessment is on its way. I remember the I-STEP debacle of a few years ago when all of the sudden weeks before the test they scrapped social studies. I look forward to the ILEARN assessment in 2019; however, I am curious what the final I-STEP scores will be when they are released next Fall.
5. How much more of Obama’s education legacy will be undone?
Barack Obama was a pioneer in education. He rolled out Race to the Top, which encouraged schools across the country to rethink the way they educated students. I saw a school district in Indianapolis win the grant and watched how it changed their school district. No Child Left Behind ended and he introduced the Every Student will Succeed Act to ensure that students received a quality education and that schools are held accountable for their students’ performance. The current administration is trying to undo the legacy of Barack Obama. One of the most glaring examples was back in March when 45 signed bills that eliminated requirements for K-12 teacher preparation programs on training new teachers, and rolled back rules on how states will carry out ESSA. Unfortunately, the lack of vision in regards to the educational well being of country is crippling the legacy of a President who believed our country will only prosper if our children succeed. Instead, the current administration is more focused on undoing the legacy instead of improving aspects of it. It appears that 2018 will be the year of the undoing of the Obama education legacy.