I’ve been publishing annual education-related predictions for over a decade now, usually in The Washington Post.
Let’s just say that no one would have become rich by betting on my past predictions.
Nevertheless, since being wrong has never stopped education pundits from continuing their pontifications, I figured it shouldn’t stop me, a practicing teacher, from continuing mine!
1. Despite what Bill Gates and Sal Kahn say, artificial intelligence will not revolutionize education—and certainly not next year. However, it will help teachers craft more accessible student materials, make writing letters of recommendation easier, and create some excellent language-learning opportunities. It will also force us teachers to review our assignments to make them more AI-proof. By the end of 2024, AI will just be another tech tool that we teachers have figured out how to incorporate into our practice.
2. The frenzied panic about cellphones in schools will die down as more and more schools figure out, like ours have, that the simplest way of dealing with them is by requiring phones to be in backpacks during class. At the same time, however, the public will become more aware that teen cellphone use in schools is not the primary cause of student challenges. Instead, like most factors affecting academic achievement, the real issue is cellphone use outside the schoolhouse walls.
3. Layoffs of teachers and classified staff will begin as districts face the “fiscal cliff” (the end of pandemic funding from the federal government). And it won’t be pretty—for those who are laid off, for those who are kept, and for our students. It will mean bigger class sizes, dirtier classrooms, and it sure won’t make the teaching profession look any more attractive to prospective teachers.
4. However, President Joe Biden will be reelected, Democrats will keep control of the Senate, and retake the House. That means that come 2025, a renewed effort at providing additional funding for education, particularly Title I schools, will be successful and reduce the negative impact of the fiscal cliff.
5. This Democratic victory, which will also be reflected in races throughout the country, will take the wind out of the sails of Donald Trump and many of his enablers and followers. Though some book bans and teaching restrictions on systemic racism and LGBTQ+ issues will endure, at least for a while, I believe that 2023 will be viewed as their “high” mark.
6. A reaction to some of the overreach of the “science of reading” has begun and will accelerate in 2024. More and more researchers and educators will recognize that its tenets have an important place in the classroom, but that it’s also possible to have “too much of a good thing.” Its endorsement by Moms for Liberty will also begin to take its toll.
7. Many of us teachers will continue to search—unsuccessfully—for ways to replace Twitter/X as the invaluable place it was for professional and personal learning communities for so many years. Some of us are still hanging in there on the site, and Threads and Blue Sky are not quite cutting it as replacements. I suspect I’ll be saying the same thing a year from now.
8. Chronic absenteeism will go down substantially, and state test scores will improve as our resilient students bounce back from trauma of the pandemic. Nevertheless, there will continue to be pundits who will say we teachers are still not doing enough.
9. I borrow this last one from educator Bill Ivey every year. He predicts that “each and every school day will bring tens of thousands of reasons to celebrate in schools across the country.”