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2011- What will the current year bring?

January 2, 2011

I’m not much of a soothsayer, myself.  It seems many people, however, like the idea of making predictions for the future when it’s time to turn the page on the new calendar.  I’m not sure we ever really look back much, though, to see what came to pass or how accurate the forward-looking statements were.

I thought I’d try to take a whack on offering a few random thoughts on what we might see in the world of education in year 2011.  Let me know what you think — or better yet, feel free to make a few of your own.

  • By the end of 2011, 49 states will have some form of anti-bullying laws on the books.  As of today, there are 45 states in the country that have these laws already.
  • However, in spite of the increase emphasis on legislation, bullying will continue to be rampant. I expect a significant upswing of anti-social behavior and school-based violence in late-April to early-May.
  • The toll of bullying-related suicides will be higher in 2011 than in 2010.  It’s hard to tell, however, whether it’s actually because there are more bullycides themselves, or because it’s more widely recognized and reported as such.
  • There will be an increase in attention to prevention of bullying and other anti-social behavior. One significant area of prevention is in the area of pro-social/emotional skills learning, such as our own SocialSmarts program.  In Washington State, for example, State Representative Mary Lou Dickerson (D) is renewing her efforts to raise awareness of the need for this type of education.  The problem I see, however, is that while the need is becoming more obvious and legislators are trying to call attention to these programs, funding will continue to be the biggest limiting factor in adoption.
  • Because of the financial constraints, more programs will need to be donated to schools, if we’re to see any improvement at all.  SocialSmarts, for example, has pledged to donate our program to up to 1,000 schools across the country — other companies are going to need to make similar offers.  The problem with this approach, however, is that frequently schools value their curricula and programs at exactly what they pay for them. If they don’t see this type of education as “worth” paying for, why will it become more important if it’s free?
  • We’ll see more divisiveness between school districts and teachers/unions as working conditions for them continue to worsen. Talk of longer school days or school years, along with an increasing push to raise test scores, coupled with dwindling budgets doesn’t bode well for teachers. So, we’ll see more battle lines drawn, at the expense of the kids. This is unfortunate when there are solutions in place that help all stakeholders including district administrations, teachers/staff, and students.
  • I think the Federal Government will make another push to dedicate more funds to schools like through the recent Race to the Top initiative.  I’d be very interested to see how these initiatives actually perform, but the likelihood is that the current Administration will be out of office before we see any results — positive or negative — against which to measure “success.”

I could go on, but I think keeping it to a few choice “predictions” is plenty.

We always talk about how the New Year gives us a chance for a fresh start, to do things better and more successfully. I’m not sure I see that in the cards for Education in 2011 — I’d like to be proven wrong, particularly when lives and well-being of children are concerned.

Now it’s your turn — what do you think about what I’ve offered and what predictions can you make for the coming year?

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