What Didn't Happen in 2014
We're reaching the end of 2014, close enough that there's nothing left for policymakers to do except a few trying-to-stay-below-the-radar gestures. (Hey, Connecticut! Your governor just gave his appointees an up-to-12 percent raise! Merry Christmas!) But the big events of the year are past us, and I think it's safe to put together our list of Things That Did Not Happen in 2014.
Common Core Did Not Garner More Love
The groundswell of grass roots support for common core seems to have gotten lost in the same dark hole as missing socks, the Iraqis waiting to greet us as liberators, and my hair. There has been more than ample opportunity for teachers across the country to say, "Well, now I can see this is actually awesome," and for opponents of the national standards movement to say, "I have to admit; now that I can see it in action, I might have been too hasty to condemn."
That has not happened. The biggest proponents of the core are still the folks who make a living advocating for the reform movement (and the biggest opponents are folks who don't make a living in the Resistance). There's a related question that remains unanswered this year—if reformsters like Gates and Walton stopped pumping money into CCSS support, would it be able to survive strictly on merit and grassroots love?
Administration Did Not Come Out In Support of Public Education
Duncan and the rest of the Obama administration occasionally make mouth noises that would seem to support public education, but can anybody point to a single policy or action of the department this year (ever, actually, but I'm just writing about this year) that was an unequivocal move in favor of U.S. public education?
They've worked hard for charters. They've gone to the wall and helped cut deals for education corporations. They made sure that predatory for-profit college operators stay afloat. But at no point did Duncan et al advocate for public education or the people who work there.
Next Generation Tests Still Haven't Arrived
It's possible they're just in the mail, because folks have been saying these are coming any minute now for, well, many many minutes. But the tests our students are all taking still encourage test prepping and then measure an inch deep and an inch wide. The only way reformsters get away with the "no more bubble tests" line is because now students click on the multiple choice answer with a mouse instead of bubbling it in with a pencil.
The closest we've gotten to a next generation is the insistence that we can now score essay writing with a computer (spoiler alert: no, we can't).
America Did Not Hit 100% Mark
2014 was, of course, the magical year in which No Child Left Behind would create an America in which 100 percent of our students were above average. We did not do that (we also did not, as a nation, spin straw into gold or master cold fusion or open successful unicorn farms).
Apparently we were not even close. While some states have backed away from Race to the Top and NCLB waivers, they cited reasons such as Evil Federal Overreaching Pinko Naughtiness. Nobody looked at the waivers and said, "No, thanks, but we have this 100 percent of students above average thing totally under control, so NCLB doesn't scare us at all."
Will any of these events finally occur in 2015? Are there other Important Education Events that still haven't happened, despite all our anticipation? Share your list in the comments section, and enjoy the holidays.