A year ago I played prognosticator and offered “educated guesses” about what 2011 would bring. So how did I do? I report, you decide.
1. Cathie Black will be gone by Easter.
This was perhaps my proudest moment of the year. (I even got some shout-outs from the mainstream media.) In hindsight, though, it wasn’t really a tough call. I mean, Cathie Black? What was Mayor Bloomberg thinking?
2. A new ESEA will be law by Thanksgiving.
For a few fleeting moments this fall I thought I might have a chance. But alas, it wasn’t in the cards. The issue wasn’t substance—something akin to Lamar Alexander’s reauthorization package could pass both chambers of Congress by a wide margin, and the President would happily sign it. Politics were to blame, mostly on the Democratic side of the aisle. Simply put, the reformers and civil rights groups on the Left weren’t going to allow a bill to move that would step away from NCLB’s top-down accountability mandates, and the Administration’s actions on waivers took away the urgency to act.
3. Education-establishment groups will file a slew of new funding-equity lawsuits–and charter school groups will join them.
I don’t see any sign of legal activity from the charter sector, but this year’s budget cutbacks have indeed led to a new round of school finance lawsuits. Several are underway in Texas, Alabama was home to a novel federal suit, and the Wall Street Journal reports that über-lawyer Michael Rebell is getting ready to jump back into action (if not head to the courthouse itself).
4. Michelle Rhee will embrace “paycheck protection” as part of her agenda.
She had her chance, as such a policy was a part of Wisconsin’s collective bargaining reforms. But she decided to oppose the changes in Wisconsin and, like Democrats for Education Reform, went out of her way to voice support for collective bargaining rights. Still, as long as the unions can raise hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign cash just by adding a small surtax to their members’ fees, Rhee is going to be doing battle with one hand tied behind her back. I still think, at some point, paycheck protection will go mainstream among reformers (including Rhee).
5. At least one district will go bankrupt.
At least, I’m not aware of any district that did. But a half-dozen municipalities, including Central Falls, Rhode Island, did enter bankruptcy, which has implications for their local schools.
6. “Local control” will come under further attack.
But this one was cheating; those of us at Fordham are among the ones doing the attacking, as we investigate the future of education governance in America.
7. Diane Ravitch and the teachers unions will criticize budget cuts but offer no alternatives.
Diane and Randi will demur, but throughout the conversation about the “New Normal,” their most consistent suggestion has been to raise taxes in order to reverse budget cuts. That’s a reasonable argument, but it’s not currently politically viable. So then what? Diane at times has criticized expensive no-bid contracts going out to New York City vendors, but trimming those wouldn’t reap much savings. The union-backed “National Center for Education Policy” blasted the Department of Education for promoting resources (including several from Fordham) that offer cost-cutting ideas—but provided no alternatives of its own.
By my count, I batted .500. Not bad if you’re a baseball slugger; not so good if you’re picking stocks. In coming days I’ll take a crack at 2012 and see if I can do any better. Until then, Happy New Year!
This post also appears on Flypaper.