Chester Finn Predicts — By 2030 ALL American Children Will Be Able To Choose From A Wide Variety Of Educational Options

As I research material for the book I’m writing, “Kettering Public Education In 2030,” I’ve discovered that a distinguished and well funded “think tank,” The Hoover Institute, last year published an e-book, “American Education In 2030,” and also posted a series of videos with the same theme. In future posts, I intend to analyze this material, maybe incorporating some of these thoughts about twenty years in the future into my own project.

Chester E. Finn, Jr. serves as chair of the the Hoover Institute’s “Task Force on K–12 Education.” He is also president of the Fordham Foundation, originally a Dayton based foundation. Fordham has been an active supporter of charter schools in Dayton.

In this video, Finn predicts that by 2030 all American children will be able to choose from a wide variety of educational options. “Districts will no longer be operated by a single bureaucratic school system,” he says, “(parents will choose from) dozens of providers, operators of schools and learning institutions that have all kinds of contractual relationships with the district.” Here is a partial transcript:

It’s the year 2030 and world of school choice in American primary and secondly education has evolved dramatically from the old days of 2010. Almost every child in America is now able to exercise some kind of school choice. That’s up from about one-half of the kids, back in 2010 and they go to an astonishing rich variety of schools in 2030. …

Let me illustrate with Columbus Ohio, which has about 50,000 students in 2030:

  • About 5000 (10%) students study at home, mostly on-line, occasionally with their parents. They have a wide variety of providers they can tap into from home
  • About 10,000 (20%) attend what we might call old fashioned brick and mortar schools. They look like schools, they smell like the old fashioned schools with a teacher at the head of the class providing instruction.
  • The rest of the students in Columbus, 35,000, (70%) attend an amazing variety of hybrid educational institutions in all sorts of physical facilities with partly on-line and partly face-to-face instruction. Some of these are akin to old fashioned schools by the way they look, but when you walk in the door they don’t feel that way. A lot of learning is taking place in a lot of different formats. And these schools are not operated by a single bureaucratic school system, but by dozen of providers, operators of schools and learning institutions that have all kinds of contractual relationships with the Columbus city and with the State of Ohio.

What has made this kind of change possible are six historical developments.

Six historical developments in the United States:

  1. National standards and tests have made transparent the performance of each school as well as a lot of other information about it, so it is possible to get more and better information than it used to be, and many families are making better choices than they use to do.
  2. School finance is now piggybacked on the back pack of each child in America. The money travels with the kid to the school of his or her choice — the State, local and federal money, too. Different amounts per child, depending on special needs, etc.
  3. Charter schools take hundreds of different forms, all kinds of operators can contract with communities and states to operate different kinds of schools. School systems are no long big bureaucratic behemoths … rather they enter into these contractual relationships with educational providers of many different kinds.
  4. Venture capital has become available for educational entrepreneurs. It wasn’t in the old days, but now with a whole lot of valuable changes in state and federal tax law, venture capital is now rewarding investment, just like it used to be in the old days when it was used for green technology and energy efficient cars and things like that.
  5. Federal education policy has changed. Children who are eligible for help from the federal government — for example, disabled or very poor kids — the money travels with the kid. It no longer is sent to a district to be administered centrally. It is now part of that backpack that stays with the child as he or she attends a school of choice.
  6. States have rewritten compulsory attendance laws., the rules that say you must go to school. Well, what is a school? It used to have a homogeneous definition. Now those laws have been liberalized so that many different educational providers qualify as “schools” for the purpose of satisfying the compulsory attendance requirement.

The upshot of all of this is that choice is now universally available to all American children and lots are taking advantage of those option, particularly poor and minority kids. And the remarkable news is that student achievement is beginning to inch up and achievement gap that has troubled us back in 2010 is beginning to narrow

This has been a promising and fruitful development for American education, and I’m really glad it’s happened between 2010 and 2030.


Conservative “Think Tank” Predicts And Welcomes A Future Where Teaching Machines Dominate Public Education, May 17th, 2011

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