This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

June 16, 1999

Pressure on our Educational System

199 days until January 1, 2000

Society is increasingly concerned about the quality of high school graduates. Pressure is building. Standardized tests reveal, sometimes with a significant degree of embarrassment, how well educators actually perform.

Measurement will continue . . . and intensify. Legislators, pressured by employers demanding quality graduates, will send very strong messages to educational administrators. Watch for increased turnover in school administrative positions as traditional career educators are replaced by more aggressive results-oriented executives. Private business will become more involved in running schools, not just supporting them. Charter schools and contractually managed schools are just the beginning. A serious upheaval is not far off.

Public schools are feeling the heat. This summer, the New Orleans school system will have a free, five-week summer school program for incoming fourth and 8th graders. Next Spring, those students must take a new, high-stakes test that will determine whether they move on to the next grade level. The summer school program is seen as a pre-emptive strike at the massive number of 4th and 8th graders expected to fail.

We see this effort as another step toward year-round schooling. Some school systems already offer a year-round option, but we haven't yet seen strong support for mandated 12-month education. The shift will happen, as schools finally recognize that students are no longer needed in the fields during the summer.

The current school calendar is based on an outdated agrarian model. The majority of today's parents are not toiling in the fields, nor are they home during the summer to care for their school-free children. Both parents are working, and this will continue to be the case at least for the next ten years in our tight labor market. Year-round education, even with longer school days, will fit more with the family lifestyle of today and tomorrow.

In the interim, educationally-oriented camps will keep children busy, safe, and managed during the vacation periods. The market will respond^×first commercially, then governmentally, to assure that children are grown and protected while anxious parents work. Parents, and society, will devote more attention to preparation of today's children for tomorrow's challenges.

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