Editor's Note (The View From Here)

An Interesting Year Ahead

Many are wondering what is in store for education as our new President takes office. While the debate may be about how to improve education, the real focus will be on who gets the funding.

At Risk: Early Childhood Educational Support — In December, state legislators participating in the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) Capitol Forum in Washington D.C. discussed the question, “Are early childcare and development programs an expense or an investment?”

While there is a national concern about educational outcomes, many still question the cost and value of these programs. Brain science research shows that early experiences affect the development of brain architecture, which provides the foundation for all future learning, behavior and health.

But the question posed by Representative Cathy Connolly of Wyoming (D) is how to keep early childhood educational programs in the forefront when they aren’t legislative priorities and aren’t constituent priorities except for a narrow group.

Careful What You Wish For: School Choice, Vouchers and Tax Credits — There is little question that our new President supports privately run, publically funded charter schools. School choice can help students trapped in a bad school.

New competition can be healthy and help improve all of our schools — public and charter alike. The concern is discerning and funding “good” charter schools. From a personal perspective, I have had the opportunity to visit some great charter schools, along with some that are really frightening.

Key to any good school, public or charter, are expectations (academic and conduct) that are clearly defined and measurable; a commitment by students, faculty and parents; environments and curriculum that prepare students for life in the real world.

Unfortunately, I have seen some of the privately run charters that were much better at marketing and profit margins than they were at educating students. Overcrowded classrooms, non-existent technology and teaching to the test were the norm. While the test scores may have looked good, the students were not being prepared for what comes next.

There is no question that this is the start of an interesting year!

This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of School Planning & Management.

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