2017 Education Predictions

There is no way to know for certain what the year ahead will bring, but as 2016 winds down, Tobecomeateacher.org has reached out to colleagues and compiled a list of 2017 education predictions. From the likely boost for charter schools to the rise of virtual high schools to calls for “sanctuary campuses,” 2017 promises to bring new policies, innovations and challenges to educators across the United States. In fact, our 2017 education predictions suggest that over the coming year, uncertainty and debate will prevail on many fronts at both the K-12 and postsecondary levels.

2017 Education Predictions for K-12

Charter Schools will Get a Boost

2017 education predictionsWith Betsy DeVos’s appointment as Secretary of Education, it seems likely that charter schools will get a huge boost. Indeed, this may be the most certain 2017 education prediction. In Michigan, DeVos has long supported a move to charter schooling–a system where public education funding is essentially redistributed to schools with increased freedom to operate at arms-length from state departments of education. This is also why charter schools remain controversial. Charter schools are given latitude to shape everything from hiring criteria to the curriculum. As a result, they are especially popular with families who wish to access a religious education without paying private school fees. DeVos’s push for charter schools in Michigan was successful, but can she replicate this nationwide? It seems likely that her mandate will anger many public educators, but given that education is dictated by state mandates, we also predict that it is highly unlikely that a voucher-based system will take hold nationwide any time soon.

Teachers’ Wages will Continue to Lag Behind

In a high percentage of U.S. states, average teacher salaries do not meet or just meet the estimated living wage for a family of four. A likely 2017 education prediction is that this low-wage trend will continue. Teachers’ wages continue to drop compared to people in comparable positions. Under the new administration, there is no indication that teachers’ salaries will be a priority.  Of course, teachers’ salaries are primarily a state and local issue not federal issue. As a result, it seems likely that in states where teachers already make the most (e.g,. New York, California, Connecticut and Massachusetts), they will continue to be well compensated. In states where teachers’ wages lag behind, the situation will hold. However, there are also concerns that teachers’ unions will face growing opposition and may even lose some of their bargaining power under the incoming administration. If this happen, at least some American teachers may find themselves in an even more dire situation. Also, since nearly all American teachers make well below Trump’s proposed new middle and high income tax brackets, which will see the highest tax cuts, few American teachers will benefit from the significant tax breaks about to be rolled out.

Virtual High Schools will Gain Ground

2017 education predictionsWhile homeschooling has been gaining ground across the United States in recent years, not all parents are up to becoming full-time teachers. As parents look for reputable yet affordable alternatives to homeschooling , virtual high schools continue to gain popularity. For some time, the idea of doing an online college or university degree has been gaining acceptance, and there are now many viable and even reputable options available to students across fields. Moving into 2017, we predict that the interest in virtual high schools will grow too. Although still not for every kid or parent, some online options, like the Stanford Online High School, offer the best of both worlds.  Embracing a blended learning model, Stanford’s online option brings students together for meet ups, field trips and graduation and even has clubs and a form of student governance, but the high school otherwise takes place online.

Augmented Reality will Dominate Ed Tech

Augmented reality (AR) has been around for some time now but until recently, it remained somewhat unknown. The concept is usually used to describe computer technologies that add an additional layer of information or experience over a user’s lived experience. Rather than lose oneself in a virtual world, augmented reality is about integration. It brings the digital world to the material world. While museum educators have been embracing AR for some time, in 2017, its seems likely that AR will gain ground across the education system. This is largely due to the growing available of free AR apps targeting K-12 educators and growing awareness among educators of AR’s wide-reaching potential.

Common Core will Continue to be Debated

While Trump has said, on more than one occasion, that Common Core has to go, in reality, Common Core standards are not a federal issue. Although designed to create common standards nationwide, they were developed and adopted on the state level.  In fact, the U.S. Department of Education has no authority to dictate what happens to Common Core.  Among our 2017 education predictions, however, is the near certainly that Common Core’s structure, value and impact will continue to be debated among parents, students and teachers.

2017 Education Predictions for Higher Education

Rise of the “Sanctuary Campus”

Within days of the Trump’s election, universities across the United States were declaring their status as “sanctuary campuses.” The move came quickly as undocumented students and their allies on campus pushed for their administrations to commit to protecting anyone who might be at risk as the new administration takes power.  Xavier Maciel, an undergraduate at Pomona College, even created a list of campuses that have declared themselves to be “sanctuary campuses” or are petitioning to do so.  The problem , however, is that legal experts suggest colleges and universities have no real legal basis upon which to declare themselves sanctuaries. Worse yet, by doing so, they may mislead students into thinking they do have some legal protection while enrolled. Princeton University president, Christopher Eisgruber, for example, issued a statement of support for DACA but also declined calls to become a “sanctuary campus.” In late November, he wrote, “Immigration lawyers with whom we have consulted have told us that this concept has no basis in law, and that colleges and universities have no authority to exempt any part of their campuses from the nation’s immigration laws.”  Among our 2017 education predictions for higher education is that the debate over how best to support undocumented students will continue over the coming year.

Bernie Sanders’ Supporters Won’t Disappear 

bernie_sanders_supporters4-620x412In 2016, they came, they listened, they worshipped and they wept. College and university students loved Bernie Sanders’ message. But why not? Sanders, who once cut his own folk album and later helped to create the most popular punk venue in the Northeast, delivered a powerful message about education throughout the 2016 election cycle.  Postsecondary education should be free for all, and students should not graduate in debt. In 2017, Sanders’ young supporters will mature and form several new coalitions focused on promoting accessible higher education. While they will no doubt have a long and hard road ahead of them with the current administration, there is no question that Sanders’ supporters and the message he conveyed will continue to make news.

More Campus and School Shootings

According to Everytown, a gun safety advocacy and research group, in 2016, there were more than 35 school and campus shootings nationwide. The shootings took place in middle schools and high schools and on college and university campuses across the nation. Some of the shootings resulted injury and some in death. Of course, 2016 was not an exception. In recent years, school and campus gun violence has been on the rise and for this reason, sadly, our 2017 education predictions include a grim prediction that more shootings in schools and on campus are inevitable. This will no doubt also keep the lively debate over campus carry alive.

Percent of Part-time Faculty will Rise

Few of our 2017 education predictions bring good news, and this also holds true for our predictions on postsecondary hiring. In 2016, the New Faculty Majority reported that over 75% of postsecondary faculty now work on a part-time basis. With soft hiring across fields and levels nationwide and few wide-scale hiring drives on a global level (China may be a notable exception), in 2017, we can expect to see more part-time faculty. There are several reasons for this continued trend. First, most colleges and universities have grown so accustomed to relying on contingent faculty, the norm is already firmly entrenched. Second, with the arrival of new administration in Washington, it seems unlikely that many U.S. colleges and universities will be opening up new hiring lines in 2017. Indeed, they will likely want to wait and see how the new government impacts the economy and higher education before investing in long-term hiring lines.

Humanities PhDs will Decline

libraryAmong our 2017 education predictions is the continued decline in PhD enrollments in the humanities. The trend started a few years back. In 2015, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that in 2013 to 2014, PhD enrollments fell by 0.5% and between 2009 and 2014, enrollments fell 1% a year. By contrast, enrollments in doctoral programs across fields rose by 1.2% during the same period.  In 2017, there is a high likelihood that enrollments in PhD humanities programs will continue to decline. This reflects several factors, including the growing reluctance of universities to train high numbers of humanities scholars in what remains a dismal job market.

Contributor: Cait Etherington, Dec. 24, 2016


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