Fast Forward to the Future
Yesterday was the futuristic day Dr. Brown and Marty traveled forward into time to October 21, 2015. There was considerable media coverage comparing the cinema prediction of what life would be like in a small town 25 years into the future to what it actually is like today. Some perditions were correct while others were far off.
So let’s fast forwardin time and see what progress public education has made to be more inclusive, unified and productive. To begin our journey we should start with the present issues influencing public education across this country in 2015 and then fast forward to the future of public education.
Inclusion: for the past 25 years and arguably the present American society and public schools continue to reflect variations exclusion. The desegregation laws attempted to forcible break down segregation based on race. Title IX came about to regulate and provide oversight to seclusion based on gender. IDEA is growing in complexity and impact as more information is learned through reseach into the human brain and physiology. The Federal oversight is in place to provide as level of a playing field as possible for those of us with disabilities.
In the future, we will have a more tolerant, inclusive and accepting society. Our country will experience what Europe experienced and that being a wide mix of citizens from other countries, religions and languages all melding together and benefiting from it’s diversity. We will not longer have public debates on Confederate Flags, Christmas vs Winter Break, school prayer or In God We Trust logos. We will be a tolerant, inclusive and respectful society and we will see this reflected in our schools and kids.
Respect for Public Schools and Employees:
At some point in our past someone said “If you can’t do then teach” and this simple yet impactful statement became a national sentiment. In the future public school employees, not just teachers, will all be held with the highest regard in our society and the new slogan will be “If you can’t do then don’t teach”. We will see a profession driven by importance and there will no longer be the need for labor unions to “protect” employees because these employees will drive the free market. Public school positions will be highly sought after, competitive, year round positions, blended between virtual and on-site and highly compensated based on results. Public schools will be employed with the best and brightest from within our country and from outside our boarders.
No Need to Defend Public Schools at the Polls: 25 years ago we had the same publically elected governance structure for schools as we do today. There were special interests and political/personal agendas infiltrating the Board of Educations then as there is now. Today there appears to be more organized politics from outside the school district boundaries pressing down on school districts and disrupting the very premise of local control. The influence of political action committee money slipping through various filters to end up influencing local board of education elections is more common today than 25 years ago. In the future there will be no need for, nor tolerance of, the current politically elected governance practice. The existing governance structure of electing people with political agendas with little to no expertise or training in the education profession will not look the same. When we fast forward to our future our society will evolve the public oversight procedures of not only taxation to fund schools but also on ensuring there are accountability measures that will be locally driven but focused on school outcomes and not political interests.
School Choice/Adaptability: Students today have very little more choice of schools to attend or customization of courses within the school they presently attend than did their parents 25 years ago. When we fast forward to the future we will see in essence a public school system that is more flexible and focused on performance based progression through a system as compared to age based progression. Choice will be the name of the game and students will be able customize what, when, where, how and by whom they take a course from. There will be a blended learning environment balanced between face-to-face instruction, peer review and on-line learning. Students will customize their educational offerings thus eliminating a systemized tracking protocol. Students entry and exit from school will be based on demonstration of mastery of concepts and not based on their birthday.
The best is yet to come for American public schools. To quote Dr. Brown from Back to the Future, “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”