Even though the traditional K-12 calendar is only about halfway over, the New Year is a time for reflection and goal-setting for educators. The year 2013 has certainly seen a lot of advancement in pedagogy and technology in the classroom, but 2014 is poised for even more changes. While every district, school and individual classroom operates in its own way, these are some sweeping trends that will impact K-12 education across the board.
Equity in education has long been an ideal. It's an ideal celebrated in a variety of contexts, too. Even the Founding Fathers celebrated education as an ideal, something to which every citizen ought to be entitled. Unfortunately though, the practice of equity in education has been less than effective. That is, equity is a difficult ideal to maintain and many strategies attempting to maintain it have fallen far short in the implementation.
Do women simply need a degree to land a job in any field? If so, the opposite is certainly not true for men—at least not yet. Will the young men in our classrooms today have a worse quality of life if they do not attend college or will it be about the same?
Despite many K-12 libraries finding themselves on the chopping block in the budget cuts of recent years, I believe this aspect of student learning is essential for academic and real-world success. Librarians, information associates, media center specialists - call them what you want, but these professionals are just as important to student success as homeroom teachers and administrators.
One thing is for sure though -- we can expend change to classroom management and discipline strategies in public education classrooms. We may not have the full story yet on what is likely to happen five to ten years down the road, but we have some signs of change, some definite evidence of the types of shifts. How exactly these individual shifts play out? Only time will tell.
The test for public school libraries will be the maintaining of a balance between access to resources - innovative access where possible - and managing associated costs. The good news, long-term, is that the future trends look set to help this balance, not hinder it. In the end, though, only time will really tell which trends stick among those that we are already noticing, and what new technologies will do for school libraries in the longer-term.
The achievement gap will likely always exist in some capacity, much in the way that the U.S. high school dropout rate will likely never make it down to zero. This doesn't mean it is a lost cause, of course. Every student who succeeds, from every demographic, is another victory in K-12 education and it benefits society as a whole. Better recognition by every educator, parent and citizen of the true problem that exists is a start; actionable programs are the next step.
This week I have been writing about different facets of the year-round schooling debate. First I looked at the effects on students and then moved to the impact on teachers. As I researched both groups, I found no distinct disadvantages to either (and some advantages) when placed on a year-round academic calendar.
Research has not found any large negative effects on teachers who teach on year-round schedules instead of traditional ones. Like any profession, the preferable schedule depends on the individual. For veteran teachers who have been teaching in a traditional setup for years, a switch to year-round schooling may be more jarring than a newly-licensed teacher. Overall, though, the job and time off are comparable - just different.
Overall, year-round schooling seems to show a slight advantage academically to students enrolled, but the numbers of students are not high enough to really get a good read on it at this point. What does seem clear, however, is that at-risk students do fare better without a long summer break, and other students are not harmed by the year-round schedule.