Education gurus are the first to acknowledge that their pet issue has not been a prominent feature in the presidential campaign. Thank God it's over.
I give education policy experts kudos for is their ability to keep humming along despite being largely ignored on the federal stage. School administrators, teachers groups, foundations, think tanks, research institutions, etc., are the places where you will find the next big ideas on education. Eventually the lawmakers catch up.
I'm collecting ideas on the next big topics in education--stuff the administration will be dealing with in one form or another. I'll start off the discussion with a few of my own.
*Digital Learning. "Ed Tech" is a big deal in Silicon Valley these days, which means there will be more and more products on the market to help teachers teach and students learn. Online campus learning is becoming a central feature of colleges and universities. Regardless of worriers who fear such innovations will replace the traditional classroom, high-tech learning is here to stay. The only question is, what form will it take?
*Common Core State Standards. With 46 states on board with the skills that kids should possess before they graduate from high school, the big question in the next year will be about implementation. How to translate the basic concepts of vocabulary, reading comprehension, logical writing, fractions, geometry, and probability into curricula and assessments will occupy the best education planners for years. Teachers, school districts, and states will have to work closely together to build this learning environment or the standards will begin to look like pipe dreams.
*School Choice. The new wave of parent-based education organizations shows that the PTA is no longer the only player in the school debates. With the help of these advocacy groups, parents are agitating for more control over where their kids go to school. They want alternatives to the bad schools. That means that the old charter school and school voucher movements aren't going away. But it also means that there will be new conversations about how to ensure that good schools are available to all kids, perhaps through new types of funding allocations or public-private partnerships. Blame Education Secretary Arne Duncan for making so much noise over the last four years about failing schools. Now no one wants to enroll their kids in them.
What other big education topics will surface for the next administration? Am I on target with my choices? What barriers will educators face in Congress? In the states? In their districts? How will the advocacy movements impact the debates? Who are the big players? What can we look forward to?