Education and Related Policy Predictions for 2018

The political division across the country makes it difficult to predict with any certainty what will happen in Washington, D.C. and states in 2018. Since Congress did not complete its work before the holiday recess, the January legislative agenda is full. Most of these are directly or indirectly related to education.

Predicting what will be addressed includes:

  • Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act: House Republicans introduced the PROSPER Act before the holiday recess. It will be reintroduced during the second session of the 115th Congress. The Senate will introduce its own bill sometime in 2018 and will be a bipartisan effort.
  • CHIP Funding: The Continuing Resolution funded the child health program through March 2018, but will have to be addressed again in 2018.
  • Reauthorize the Career and Technical Education Act: High on the Administration’s agenda is to promote more apprenticeships and other programs in secondary and postsecondary education.
  • DACA: Promises have been made to fix the problem, but it is not clear what the resolution will be.
  • ESSA Implementation: States begin implementation and oversight of state efforts are being questioned including on accountability.
  • Education Funding: No final decision for the FY 2018 appropriation so how many education dollars will be available remains a question.
  • Supreme Court cases and decisions: The Court has heard several cases and a few more to be heard in 2018 that will have an impact on education policy and practice.
  • Net Neutrality: FCC’s elimination of the Net Neutrality rule will have an impact on education both K-12 and postsecondary education. We have to wait and see the extent of the impact.
  • Tax Reform: It will have an affect on state and local education funding, as well as available dollars for private education.
  • Regulatory Change: The Administration’s vigorous efforts to eliminate or change additional regulations, guidance, policy and practice in education instituted by the Obama Administration will continue.
  • Welfare reform: To be a high priority of the Administration in 2018.
  • Infrastructure: A proposal will be made by the Administration in 2018.
  • Mid-term elections: November 2018 will determine who controls the House, Senate and several governor mansions. If there are changes, a new political landscape will take place.
  • Other items to be addressed by Congress in January include: reauthorization of the warrantless surveillance program, Omnibus appropriations, Affordable Health Care fix, funding for disaster relief, defense spending, debt limit, and addressing spending caps.

What may occur includes:

  • Lawsuits will be filed over regulatory and guidance changes made by the Trump Administration in education and related policy areas such as Net Neutrality.
  • States will have some difficulty in implementing ESSA, and federal oversight will be mixed. Several members of Congress will continue to question if the law is being correctly implemented.
  • A stronger effort to expand public school choice, and for-profit postsecondary institutions will be made.
  • The divide between the Secretary of Education and the majority of the education community will become even more adversarial.
  • An ongoing battle in states over funding for education and equitable funding at the elementary and secondary level will continue.
  • Increased effort to address the teacher shortage
  • Expansion of STEM efforts at the local level and an increased participation by corporations to address future workforce needs.
  • Issues such as free speech on campuses, transgender policy, rights for those sexually abuse and harassment, transgender students, and similar salient issues will continue to be addressed but not resolved.
  • Increased efforts to expand personalized learning and social and emotional learning.

Questions to be asked and answered include:

  • How will the new tax reform legislation affect education funds at the state and local level and what will be needed to address any shortfalls?
  • Will Congress authorize and fully fund CHIP and other programs, which were not extended at the end of FY 2017?
  • Will assessments continue to be challenged and changed?
  • Will the Department have a more rigorous approach to accountability at all levels of education?
  • Can the Administration nominate additional appointees to help manage the U.S. Department of Education and other agencies?
  • Will the Congress attempt to reauthorize the special education legislation?
  • How long will the ongoing budget battle over education funding and related appropriations last?
  • Will education infrastructure be included in the President’s infrastructure proposal?
  • What other rules, regulations and guidance will be changed that have an impact on school districts, postsecondary education, students, and other education services?
  • Is there other education legislation to be introduced?

Wishing you all the best of luck in 2018. I hope I am right on many of these predictions.

This article originally appeared in the January 2018 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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