Trends in Education

What Will Be Trending in Education During 2016?

Trending in Education

PHOTO © BYCHYKHIN OLEXANDR//SHUTTERSTOCK

Most people did not predict a reauthorized new Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Every Student Succeeds Act [ESSA]) by the end of 2015 But I did. Nor did many people believe there would be a omnibus budget bill passed for FY 2016 before Congress recessed for the holidays as well as a tax reform bill and one for transportation. But Congress succeeded. And no one envisioned the departure of the House Speaker John Boehner, much less being replaced by Congressman Paul Ryan.

Using my trusty cracked crystal ball, and knowing full well that 2016 is a presidential election year, one should say all bets are off. However, by the end of the first session of the 114th Congress, there were signs of bipartisanship and attempts to find common ground on legislation and issues that have been very divisive over the past several years.

So what does the future hold in 2016? How much will or won’t be accomplished in the next 12 months or the last 12 months of the Obama Administration?

Here are some things that I believe will happen in 2016. Some are obvious, others are not or just a calculated guess.

1. The Republicans will not have a brokered convention no matter how divisive that primary campaign becomes.

2. There will be a several legislative policy debates on the House and Senate floors over security at home and military action abroad, immigration and refugee policy, Affordable Care Act, climate change, free trade, an audit of the Federal Reserve, and additional tax reform proposals.

3. Speaker Paul Ryan will follow ‘regular order’ and on the issue of Puerto Rico’s debt will allow the various committees with a stake in territorial issues to weigh in, but they will have a do-or-die date of March 31 to submit each of their solutions.

4. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions chaired by Senator Lamar Alexander will make a strong effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act after his success with ESSA. There are not very many outstanding issues in the area of student financial aid, however there are still one or two sticky wickets that may be obstacles. It would be a significant victory if legislation would be passed and signed, especially in an election year.

5. Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray will hold at least 3 hearings concerning the implementation of ESSA.

6. Presidential candidates will address a few education issues during the primaries and general election, such as financial aid to make college free in public institutions; early childhood education; education for those incarcerated (adult and juvenile); career and technical education; vouchers and school choice; testing and high education standards; higher education accountability; the application for student aid; teacher training, tenure and salaries; and defining the federal, state and local roles in education.

7. The U.S. Department of Education will begin the regulatory process for implementing ESSA and that includes negotiated rulemaking. This will be an interesting conversation and balancing act given the new statute’s language to move more responsibility back to state and local education entities.

8. On the President’s agenda, he will push legislation on criminal justice reform, free trade and climate change, but the chances of success are slim. More will be known when Obama makes his last State of the Union speech on Jan. 12. I understand it will be a non-traditional State of the Union address.

9. Political ideology will continue to be a thorn in the side of Speaker Paul Ryan, but he will figure out ways to work around it. On the Senate side Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will control the agenda to give minimal support for any presidential or Democratic priority.

10. One big outstanding question is what will the Supreme Court’s decision be on Affirmative Action. The decision will have an impact on policies and practices of higher education institutions as well as the rest of society.

11. Congress will continue to have a Republican majority in the House and Senate after the 2016 elections though their margins will be smaller.

12. No, I will not predict who the candidates will be or who will win. To be able to predict the thinking of the American public is very treacherous. There is too much time between now and November 2016 that can affect the election’s outcome. I do predict there will be a new President of the United States!!!!

Currently Trending

Federal education dollars increase in FY 2016 by $1.2 billion. This largely consists of a $500 million boost for Title I, that provides funding for poor students in grades K-12, and a $415 million increase to the Individuals with Disabilities Act, which funds special education programs.

Funding for Head Start the federal preschool program for low-income families that is run through the Department of Health and Human Services will grow by $570 million to $9.2 billion. In addition, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, another early childhood program under the jurisdiction of HHS, gets a $326 million boost to $2.8 billion.

Additional education winners and losers in the omnibus appropriations bill include charter schools with an $80 million increase. The federal program that funds states attempting to turn around their lowest performing schools will see a decrease in funding, from $506 million to $450 million, but that the money is there at all is significant since the new education law eliminates the program for 2017-2018 school year. ESSA gives states an increase of three percent in discretionary money to be used for that purpose or others.

We will see how much of this comes true. But it is always dangerous to try to predict the future.

Happy New Year!

Trends in Education

School Planning & Management asked experts who are involved in various education-related fields to talk about what is happening in regard to K-12 education and what they expect in the near future. The following are their thoughts on the topics of planning, design, architecture, legislation, energy management, and safety and security.

This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of School Planning & Management.

About the Author

Fritz Edelstein is a principal in Public Private Action. His work focuses on strategic government and constituent relations, business development strategy, advocacy research and policy analysis, strategic planning and resource development, and advocacy, outreach and public engagement. This work includes producing Fritzwire, the education Internet newsletter providing timely information on education and related issues. To subscribe, write fritz@publicprivateaction.com.

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