Each year, the Wake County Public School System has to be prepared to update plans according to changes in population, budget, leadership and technology. These factors are just a few examples of the many variables school officials must consider in predicting the Raleigh school landscape for the next generation.
Christine Kushner, a member of the Wake County Board of Education, says this is why the school board and community must make plans but must also be willing to make adjustments.
“In 2014, a community task force adopted a visionary strategic plan for WCPSS, Vision 2020,” Kushner explains. “I would like us to update that plan in three- to five-year increments, continuously working for improvement.”
And though the board relies heavily upon population trend and household migration forecasts for budgeting and planning decisions, Dr. Terry Stoops, the director of education studies for the John Locke Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Raleigh, says it’s more complex than just predicting the numbers.
“Even the best data can’t capture the diversity of ideas, opinions and experiences that people bring with them,” Stoops says. “As the share of native-born North Carolinians continues to shrink, the educational landscape will be informed by out-of-towners who have different, and in some cases competing, ideas about schooling.”
Acknowledging that there is more that’s unknown than known, Stoops and Kushner agree that schools 20 years from now will most likely continue to integrate technology and online instruction as tools and educational resources. Outside of that, and despite current students predictions (see sidebar),
the experts agree that the overall model of the classroom will still be recognizable.
“I hope one consistent thing 20 years from now is that our classrooms will have skilled teachers engaging all students, and students who enjoy being at school and learning in up-to-date, welcoming school buildings,” Kushner continues. “Nothing can replace the need students have for relationships with gifted teachers.”
“The traditional model of public schooling has not changed for more than a century,” Stoops notes. “On the other hand, if, in 1988, I had speculated that cell phones would be a classroom management issue for teachers in 2018, I would have been told to go back to listening to Cheap Trick.”
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