On the day after the election, many of us in education may be wondering what might have been and what will be when it comes to the presidential impact on schooling. Mr. Romney’s election may likely have ushered in increases in school choice programs (especially vouchers and for-profit charter schools) and decreases in school spending (at least if Mr. Ryan’s budget would have held out). With those changes on the loosing end of the ballot, should we anticipate more of the same from a second four years of President Obama? In some ways, yes, I believe we will see more of the same—for better or worse.
Given Mr. Obama’s emphasis on the need to keep America competitive in an increasingly technological and knowledge-based global economy, we will likely see more focus on recruiting and (hopefully) preparing math and science teachers, which will be backed with government funds. We will likely see continued efforts to alleviating bullying and the achievement gap in schools, but we will likely see less federal funding to aid in doing so, especially as the last of the stimulus money dries up, putting Obama’s major first-term project, Race to the Top, at risk. And while Race to the Top funding may cover some of the performance pay plans that the president desires, others will go unfunded by struggling local districts.
Money may be sought from other sources, however, as I believe President Obama will continue to celebrate philanthropists and foundations that sponsor educational innovations. Relatedly, I think President Obama will continue to applaud the efforts of organizations leading the charter school movement. If his pattern from the first term holds, he will likely do so without enough careful scrutiny of the practices of those schools, especially in terms of how they use public dollars or meet the needs of poor and minority children with pedagogical styles that sometimes jeopardize other educational opportunities, like the development of good citizenship.
I suspect we will also continue to see Secretary Duncan offering NCLB waivers, despite the fact that these have angered many political opponents who see them as circumventing the good intentions of the original law, which had Democratic roots, bipartisan support at the time of signing, and a Republican legacy. Hopefully this situation might provoke positive changes and a reauthorization of the overdue ESEA law during Obama’s second term. Additionally, I anticipate that Republicans at the state level will continue to push school voucher and tax credit legislation despite Mr. Obama’s position against it, as demonstrated by his stance on the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. Finally, the next four years will begin to show us the usefulness and effectiveness of the new Common Core State Standards, an endeavor that Obama’s administration has supported, sometimes dangling funds in front of leery states in order to get them on board.
This is what I anticipate. I welcome hearing from you regarding what you suspect we will see in the next four years.
Photo credit: Romeo Area Tea Party