It's a new year. What better time to preemptively make a fool of one's self by offering predictions for the coming 12 months? In the spirit of optimism (spiced with skepticism) that accompanies the dawning of a new decade, here are 10 fearless predictions about what lies ahead for education in Colorado in 2010.
1. Colorado will win some Race to the Top money from the U.S. Department of Education. The amount will be significantly less than state officials had hoped. Winning the grant will not profoundly change education in Colorado.
2. The hot new story in Colorado education in 2010 will be the Harrison School District in the southeastern portion of Colorado Springs. Superintendent Mike Miles is doing some remarkable things. The district and Miles will become much-celebrated over the course of the year, at least in education circles.
3. Similarly, while Denver schools continue to garner most of the headlines, Aurora Public Schools will keep chugging along, making nice, steady gains and getting too little notice for it.
4. The legislature will pass a slew of education-related bills in 2010, but the state's money woes will render many of them ineffective, or at best only marginally relevant to what happens in classrooms each day.
5. Denver Public Schools will limp along with a 4-3 split on its school board, slowing but not stopping the Bennet-Boasberg reforms, and providing a grim sort of entertainment. If Boasberg gets fed up and leaves -- unlikely, but possible -- the already-troubled district will hire a more traditional superintendent. A brain drain will ensue. DPS will slide into irrelevance and may never recover.
6. New schools like the Denver Language School and the Green School will prove attractive to parents. More whining about charters and autonomous schools draining resources from the district will ensue from predictable quarters.
7. No one will come up with a palatable resolution of the Public Employees' Retirement Association (PERA) pension mess.
8. No one will come up with a miracle cure for the fiscal cliff Colorado education will fall off in 2011. By year's end, panic will rival the Y2K bug and H1N1 scares. But in this case, the catastrophe may be real.
9. Mid-term elections will shake up the political landscape in Colorado. The net long-term effect on public education will be negligible. The pendulum will continue swinging along its proscribed arc.
10. When 2010 CSAP scores are released in the summer, some new star schools will be born, while at least some of last year's wunderkinds will slide backwards and be consigned to media oblivion.
And finally, one last thought. It's not a prediction, but rather a description of a reality. It happens year after year, as reliably as solstices and equinoxes:
The usual cast of characters will appear when controversy erupts in a school or neighborhood. They will complain vociferously, especially when TV cameras are present. They will threaten to unleash righteous fury on unresponsive bureaucrats. Then, when the cameras are gone, the controversy dies down and there is actual work to be done, they will vanish into the woodwork until the next big conflict arises.