Jon Bernstein, Founder and President, Bernstein Strategy Group, Marty Creel, Chief Academic Officer/Vice President, Curriculum & Instruction, Discovery Education, and John Harrington, CEO, Funds4Learning What does a Trump presidency mean for the future of E-Rate, ESSA, personalized learning, credentialing, appropriate tweeting, and more? Here are some highlights.
Where to begin? This seems to be the most widespread question since President-elect Trump’s historic election victory in November. On December 7, the Tech&Learning editors invited a wide assortment of advisors from the worlds of edtech industry, government policy, and school leadership to answer that question within the context of two of the most prevalent issues concerning the future of education—digital access and personalized learning.
JOHN HARRINGTON, CEO, FUNDS FOR LEARNING
I think that, fortunately, E-Rate was not a big discussion point in the election and because it enjoys bipartisan support at the FCC and, I believe, in Congress, I’m not worried about the immediate impact of change. In fact, I think because of the discussions about infrastructure that there may actually be opportunities.
JON BERNSTEIN, PRESIDENT, BERNSTEIN STRATEGY GROUP
E-Rate is not just bipartisan, it’s also a public and private school program. There is no federal education program that actually provides dollars to private schools in the way that E-Rate does and when you look at your incoming education secretary designate, Betsy DeVos, who sent her kids to private school, who attended private school, and who wants to shift more money to voucher programs that will allow kids to attend private school, I think she can look at E-Rate and say this is a program that’s not just a public school program.
DAVID ROSS, CEO, PARTNERSHIP FOR 21ST CENTURY LEARNING
The infrastructure build is fascinating to me because of the interplay between the potential focus of the new administration on vouchers and school choice. I co-founded a charter in northern California; I realize every state is different, but part of the charter application in my state is you have to have a significantly different pedagogical model, instructional model, or outcomes from the public schools in your area in order to be authorized as a charter. Well, a lot of the models that we see across the country are founded on concepts of personalized learning or blending and in order for that charter to even exist it has to have the infrastructure to be able to do that. So if, per se, the Trump administration will support an increased number of charters they commensurately have to support an infrastructure build.
IRENE SPIRO, CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER, COSN
I think it would be useful to discuss outcomes but also to think in terms of what kind of message on infrastructure is going to resonate with this new administration. It’s not going to be the one we would have had if the election had turned out differently. It is not what we had in the past, so what kind of message are we going to create? We can’t split off. We really have to have a unified message. And that’s why I’m happy that SETDA and SIIA and ISTE and CoSN are all coming together this spring and having a policy summit to carry a uniform message to Congress.
MARTY CREEL, CHIEF ACADEMIC OFFICER / VICE PRESIDENT, CURRICULUM & INSTRUCTION, DISCOVERY EDUCATION
I think what we know most about the incoming secretary of education, if she’s approved, is that she’s a passionate advocate for school choice. So I think we can expect to see a lot of impact in that area. Will that then trickle down into MOOC’s, formative assessments, blended learning, digital curriculum? Will having that increased school choice make a difference? I can see there’s two different schools of thought.
One is that we’ll have very little impact because when you get down to the classroom it doesn’t matter if you’re in a charter school or a private school or a traditional public school. The other school of thought is that parents are going to choose schools based on innovations and that they’re going to look for schools that have more innovative approaches. That change, that expectation for more choice, is going to mean more differentiation. If I’m a school administrator I’m going to differentiate my school from the others and look at innovative technologies, which may be a way that I can really differentiate myself as a school, which then is going to increase the trend.
LISA NIELSEN, THE INNOVATIVE EDUCATOR, DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT & LEARNING, NYC SCHOOLS
Another area I think we’ll see assessment going is collaborating with some corporations and doing microcredentialing and certifications. I think we’ll start to see some industry certifications taking place in our schools as well as the microcredentialing with partners like Future Ready and Digital Promise who are going down those paths. I think we’ll start to see them bubbling up more prominently.
At the New York City Department of Education we did start a program where we’re partners with many companies, both large and small. Common Sense Education is one of our partners, as are Google and Microsoft, but also smaller companies like Brain Pop. There are more than two dozen. Basically what we’re doing is those edtech companies are providing certification programs for our educators and then those educators become the leaders across our city who can turn what they’re learning to their school districts or boroughs and they can also be places where people can go in and see what is happening.