A Look Ahead: Education and The New Decade

January 10, 1990 31 min read

The education-reform movement sparked in 1983 by the landmark report A Nation at Risk and sustained throughout the 1980’s shows no signs of abating.

Indeed, as the nation heads into the last decade of the 20th century, school improvement remains high on the public agenda.

What major issues, trends, and developments will mark education in the 1990’s?

Education Week posed that question to more than 150 policymakers, practitioners, and pundits. In many cases, we followed up with another question on a specific subject or issue.

What follows is a sampling of the responses.

Government’s Role

Probably the mostsignificant issue will be whowill control the schools--who will make the decisionsthat govern their operationand who attends them.George McKenna


The top issue of the 90’sis an easy call:money, money, money.David A. Bennett


The restructuring ofAmerican education is goingto be the debate of the 90’s.... Are we talking abouttinkering, or are we talkingabout whole newapproaches?Timothy Dyer


I expect to see a resurgenceof interest in the creativityof teaching.Douglas Biklen


The emergence of theconcept of a common corecurriculum including bothknowledge and cognitiveskills is the single mostimportant thing we’ll bewrestling with.Chester E. Finn Jr.


American education in the1990’s will be concernedabout the quality ofeducation for all students.Alan Gartner


I’m seeing a grassrootstrend of some newpartnerships that are goingto be stronger.Marilyn Smith

Early Years

We will finally see that ifwe want a child to learn atage 5, we must make surechild care is of good quality.Edward F. Zigler


The 1990’s for highereducation is going to bethe age of limits.Robert Atwell

Terry Peterson, executive director, South Carolina Business-Education Subcommittee:

If there’s one trend, it’s that more education is better. I’m not sure that some folks see that. If you have a rapidly growing senior-citizen population with increasing health needs that doesn’t see it, or doesn’t buy it, it could be ugly.

Theodore R. Sizer, professor of education, Brown University, and chairman, the Coalition for Essential Schools:

The system is going to fragment. There’ll be a growing number of different ways to get schooling, and any similarities among forms of schooling will no longer be obvious.

The reason for this is there is a major erosion of confidence in the existing way of providing for schooling. And an alternative that will find favor has not yet become apparent.

In the absence of this, communities and groups are increasingly going to go their own way. The notion of a single sort of common school is a notion that’s going to become less important. Whether this is going to be good or bad, I don’t know.

David Hornbeck, partner, Hogan & Hartson, and former Maryland superintendent of schools:

The issue that will dominate American public education in the next decade is whether the nation has the will to allow public schools to accept the responsibility of producing workers for the 21st century. More clearly stated, it is whether we have the will as a nation to succeed in having virtually all students--including the poor, African-Americans, and those who do not speak English--learn to think at relatively complex levels, to express those thoughts verbally and in writing, and to solve problems from a logical, mathematical, and scientific perspective.

Since we know how to accomplish that objective, it is basically a moral issue as to whether we achieve it.

It follows that, to have a chance of adequately addressing that issue, it will be necessary for states to implement a system that is based on rich outcomes, driven by meaningful rewards and sanctions, with the school as the unit of measurement and managed by a school staff who have appropriate technical and financial resources. We will succeed or fail at the state level.

George McKenna, superintendent, Inglewood, Calif., public schools:

Probably the most significant issue will be who will control the schools--who will make the decisions that govern their operation and who attends them. The reason for this is that we have failed to show we can educate in schools when we are in control as educators. And the public erroneously believes their desire for change should allow them to take control without any expertise.

U.S. Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos:

The ferment and experimentation already under way in some schools and communities will spread and accelerate--mostly between the twin policy pillars of decentralized decisionmaking and accountability for results.

As experimentation expands, schools and communities will want to know which experiments produce which kinds of improvements in student outcomes. The desire for more options, more choices among parents, educators, policymakers, and others will grow.

The federal role will be to help sort out what works; to provide the information on effective policies and practices, and how they can be replicated; [and] to target assistance to areas and populations that are falling short of the nation’s education goals.

Matthew W. Prophet, superintendent, Portland, Ore., public schools:

I see the continuation of an oscillating phenomenon as various groups reassert themselves to gain control of education. Now, for the first time, it appears that governors have begun to assert themselves. What happens as a result of their activities will depend on the political situation in their states rather than on any national resolve.

I don’t know where it is going to oscillate back to after that. What I don’t see happening is any true synthesis that brings together all of the actors--the state bodies and local boards, business people, and communities--to be involved at the same time. Accusations will continue back and forth, and various parties will continue to step forward and lay claim to having our salvation.

We need to stop this nonsense of political posturing and work together to collectively develop objectives.

Robert F. Sexton, executive director, Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, a citizens’ advocacy group in Kentucky:

What we are going to be looking at is the limited ability or the complete inability of state government to reform schools. We are beginning to see that the education enterprise is so massive, so complicated, and subject to almost completely balkinized control at the local level that the state role is going to get redefined.

There are two possible directions. One is toward much stronger state control, not necessarily accountability, but state initiatives that will require more state authority.

But the more likely result is that we will see more and more action at the district level. School districts will distinguish themselves in some special way. There will be more diversity between one district and another.

At the end of the next decade, some districts will be really special--and not necessarily the richest ones--but others might end up as the third world of education.

Ernest L. Boyer, president, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching:

The most important issue American education will confront in the 1990’s is how we define standards for the schools and how we will evaluate results.

For the first time in our history we are seriously considering the question of a national agenda. The questions the country now confronts are whether we will establish standards for the schools, who will take the lead, and how we will evaluate the performance of our students.

Of course, we could back away from that, and that itself would be a powerful decision. But I think we have moved away from localism. It is the first time in our history we are confronting a question as critical as this one, at least in the public-policy arena.

Don’t in any way confuse federal involvement with this. I think as before the federal role will be minimal. I would hope in the 90’s the federal role will be seen increasingly as the strategy to help the disadvantaged, that is the constitutional and moral responsibility of the federal government.

U.S. Representative Bill Goodling of Pennsylvania, ranking Republican, House Education and Labor Committee:

Accountability at all levels--fiscal accountability, outcome accountability, program accountability--will be the driving force.

The time has come when people aren’t willing to pay tax dollars unless they see that there’s accountability and unless they see dramatic improvement.

I don’t think we can keep on, as many of my colleagues do, when we talk about Head Start, saying “It’s the greatest thing since motherhood.” Let’s look at Head Start kids who are 15, 16 now--did it make a difference? We say, “Chapter 1 is the greatest program,” but where are these kids when they are teenagers?

Arthur E. Wise, director, rand Corporation’s center for the study of the teaching profession:

The most important question is whether we will have top-down or bottom-up accountability in education. I foresee a clash between two sets of forces now in motion.

On the one hand is the force for top-down accountability represented by the President and governors at the recent summit. In this form, we would formulate national goals and ensure progress toward those goals, probably using an expanded version of the National Assessment of Educational Progress. It would be authorities outside schools who would be establishing objectives. But the force of that would be created by their using a standardized test of educational outcomes. If we were to carry this out, it would represent an unprecedented attempt by national and/tate governments to try to determine what goes on in schools.

On the other hand, we have in motion something called school-based management. It is a set of forces predicated on the assumption that education will be improved if we expect those who provide the services to be accountable to those who they serve.

Many observers think that these two forces of accountability can be reconciled, but I am not sanguine about that possibility. He who measures the outcomes calls the tune. With high-stakes testing raised to an unprecedented level of visibility, I would anticipate that the degrees of freedom at the local school level would ultimately be very few, as all eyes would focus on how well students perform on standardized examinations. As more and more emphasis is placed on standardized tests, less and less will be given to teaching students real skills like writing, thinking, and creating.

Gerald W. Bracey, director of research and evaluation, Cherry Creek, Colo., public schools:

Accountability is a major issue still rising, because we keep dodging it. We have some right to ask schools to be accountable for their actions.

If you are going to hold schools accountable, you have to have a way of measuring quality. We know all too well the Scholastic Aptitude Test and norm-referenced tests are totally inadequate measures of the quality of schooling. What else is there?

We need models of indicators that will appropriately evaluate the context in which a school has to work. We wouldn’t want the same indicator for the wealthiest school in Cherry Creek and the poorest school in Denver.

David A. Bennett, superintendent, St. Paul Public Schools:

The top issue of the 90’s is an easy call: money, money, money. After a decade in which the Reagan Administration taught the states to mimic the federal government by saying “no more resources,” we now have the prospect of a “peace dividend.” We have the opportunity for education to have its share, maybe even the lion’s share, of the money that might otherwise go for defense.

The downside of that--the pessimistic view--is that education as an enterprise will continue to cannibalize itself. That in our internicine wars we will beat each other up so badly that we will not have access to even our share of the peace dividend. This will challenge all sectors of education to get their collective act together for the common cause of ensuring that we get our share.

U.S. Representative Augustus F. Hawkins, Democrat of California, and chairman, House Education and Labor Committee:

Education deserves and will possibly receive greater funding in the federal budget. The direction we’re moving in will, in effect, establish an education trust fund or something similar, so it will be separated from other budget cuts. It would be like the Social Security or highway trust funds, invested and used for a stated purpose.

Harold Hodgkinson, director, Center for Demographic Policy:

The most significant development will be a new set of lawsuits, like those in Kentucky and Texas, that will redefine equity, not in terms of access but of expenditures. This is now the new approach poor districts are taking to equalize their schools. It’s a real sleeper, and it has a lot to say about race, class, redistricting, magnet schools, and more. The only time we pay attention is when we’re sued.

John E. Coons, professor of law, University of California at Berkeley:

There will be a gradual decline in the monopoly status of publicly financed government schools, that monopoly being replaced ultimately--perhaps, but who knows, in the 1990’s--by a mixed system of government and private institutions in which the determining decisions about education are shared by families of all income classes, much as they are shared today between government providers and the wealthy.

I also expect to see a very wide spectrum of experiments in school finance. At one end, there will be extreme centralization. Somewhere in the middle will be a district power-equalization system. At the other end, there will be perhaps systems in which the state finances no institutions at all except the family in its choice of schools, both government and private.

Paul Schwartz, teacher and director, The Brooklyn New School, New York City:

School restructuring--in the sense of parents, teachers, and administrators taking ownership of schools--won’t be a passing fad. In urban education, the schools are too big for people to take power, and that’s the root cause of many of our problems. As people begin to see schools as their own schools, they’ll take better care of them, take pride in them, take responsibility for them through shared ownership.

Timothy Dyer, superintendent, Phoenix Union High School District, and incoming executive director, National Association of Secondary School Principals:

The restructuring of American education is going to be the debate of the 90’s, and how that gets manifested will probably be the focus of much of what we will debate. Are we talking about tinkering, or are we talking about whole new approaches?

I really believe the principal is going to be viewed as the preeminent change agent and assume a tremendous leadership role with sharing of governance with his or her staff.

Linda Cropp, member, District of Columbia Board of Education:

You will see a change in the traditional type of school, to a totally new program dealing with today’s job market. That would include changes in the way student schedules are made, changes in the curriculum, and changes in the manner in which we hire and certify teachers.

The schools cannot continue to produce the same type of student they did 20 or 30 years ago, and teachers are getting harder and harder to recruit. To get the kind of people we want, we may have to allow someone like a scientist or a doctor to come in and teach a class of students. Those people can’t teach 45 minutes a day, five days a week, but their employers may let them go for a three-hour block one day a week. So schools are going to have to look at the way that they schedule classes.

Steven Friedman, assistant principal, Nova Middle School, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.:

[Shared decisionmaking will] absolutely continue to spread. As an administrator, you have to change your thinking from that of an authoritative position to a position where you have to be able to listen to your staff, weigh the alternatives, and make the best decision with them in mind.

That has to become part of the requirements or certification process for administrators. It’s more than bus duty and lunch duty.

Jean Carlstrom, vice chairman, Minnesota Board of Teaching, and third-grade teacher, Merritt Elementary School, Mountain Iron-Buhl, Minn.:

My feeling for public education in general is one of pessimism. We have too many non-education groups messing with it. They’re tinkering with this and that and thinking they have the solutions, and they can’t give the answers without having been in the classroom. It’s like a lay person telling a surgeon where to cut.

The creation of (a professional-standards board) in every state, governed by a majority of teachers, would greatly impact education. Teachers are the ones that can best shape the future of education and address the areas of concern that have surfaced nationwide and the weak points.

Juanita Jones, special-education teacher, Wildwood Middle School, Wildwood, Fla.:

Educators are going to become more involved in the community. When I first started teaching, we made home visits, and I got to know the parents of my children. It makes it an easier job when [a student knows] that I know your mother, and we can talk about what’s best for you, and that what I’m doing she will reinforce at home.

We’re going to see a lot more public-relations committees in the schools and community involvement in the schools. The communities are going to realize it’s in their best interest.

Peter R. Greer, dean, Boston University school of education:

There will be continued worry about the quantity and the quality of the teaching staff of our schools. Becoming a teacher is going to be a big thing, promoted by the whole idea of community service. It will be fashionable to become a teacher.

Linda Darling-Hammond, professor, curriculum and teaching, Teachers College, Columbia University:

An important issue is what we’re going to do about teacher recruitment and preparation.

The National Center for Education Statistics estimates we need two million teachers between now and 1995. The estimate of the supply of newly entering teachers is a little over one million. There’s a reserve pool, but we don’t know how much is left in it.

One of the key strategies being pursued for dealing with this issue is shortening or avoiding teacher preparation. That means in the face of a radically changing student population and heightening demands and expectations for schools, we have the question of whether we’ll have people in the classrooms who have the kind of training that will allow them to meet those challenges and demands.

We’ve had no federal action on this at all. There has been lots of talk and rhetoric, and now good proposals are beginning to emerge. While we’re bailing out the savings and loans, even a few million to address the question of whether we have adequate human capital in the schools as we head into a knowledge-based economy is being neglected. The future depends on whether we get mobilization on this and soon and on a large enough scale to make a dent.

The second issue is educational assessment and testing. Along with needing very well prepared and knowledgeable teachers, we need for them to have the authority to use their skills well and we need incentives that push teaching in the right direction.

Our current policies are more and more constraining on the schools and push away from many of the things we need to do in schools. If we don’t tackle it soon, we will be killing excellence by mismeasurement.

Jawanza Kunjufu, president of African-American Images, and author of Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys:

For African-Americans, the most significant issue will be the declining number of African-American teachers. With 17 percent of the enrollment in public schools, we now have a situation where African-Americans are only about 8 percent of the teaching force, and it’s been steadily declining. It’s projected to be only 5 percent by 1995, and I’ve seen predictions that the student figures will be around 25 percent.

Two factors make this extremely important. Where students don’t see role models in the classroom, it will be detrimental. And while expectations for students transcend race, the rule of thumb says that African-American teachers will have higher expectations for African-American students.

Douglas Biklen, professor of special education and director of the division of special education and rehabilitative services, Syracuse University:

I expect to see a resurgence of interest in the creativity of teaching. That means there will also be more attention given to the kinds of atmospheres and organizational qualities of schools that can facilitate teacher creativity.

I see this interest in teaching as a creative enterprise growing out of backlash to or disillusionment with the standardization and bureaucratization of educational practice. I also see it as being congruent with the heightening of the status of teaching.

Anne Powers, staff developer, P.S. 261, New York City:

There’s basically going to be a change in methods, away from workbooks and teacher-directed activities toward having kids do more hands-on activities. The research now backs up what we’ve already known for a long time about how kids learn.

Chester E. Finn Jr., professor of education and public policy, Vanderbilt University:

The emergence of the concept of a common core curriculum including both knowledge and cognitive skills is the single most important thing we’ll be wrestling with.

It is desirable, overdue, and revolutionary. It is the way we have to think if we are to see any change in the outcomes of education: what will kids have to know and be able to do when they graduate.

It is a debate worth having, and one we are having as more and more states deliberate about the core of the curriculum. At the national level, we are beginning to see, by subject, a national conversation about the core of the curriculum. Depending on how that marries up with the goal-setting exercise, the movement may accelerate.

It does involve a reassertion of adult responsibility for what children ought to learn--that’s healthy--and a non-relativistic determination that some things are more worth learning than other things. There is also a necessary academic twist to it, as opposed to vocational, affective, and artistic, although it doesn’t rule those out.

Gordon M. Ambach, executive director, Council of Chief State School Officers:

The focus will be on preparing our children for a worldwide marketplace. There will be a strong emphasis on languages other than English and understanding other nations, accompanied by a deepening interest in the study of citizen responsibility in democratic government.

It also means a much greater emphasis on cross-national comparisions of education and a much greater focus around the world on the use of education to unify global action on issues such as the environment and peacekeeping.

Richard Esner, social-studies teacher, Brighton High School, Rochester, N.Y.:

The curriculum will be focused on interdisciplinary activities with themes and topics being the vehicles for study, rather than distinctive classes on syllabi for each discipline.

Many teachers are becoming aware of the fact that compartmentalization into 45-minute blocks, 7 in a day, is destructive to the learning process. There is no continuity, no relevance from one to the next. Kids become robots.

Themes would unify periods of time, create a different structure. Four-hour blocks, with teachers teaching the themes, rather than having the science teacher doing his thing, the foreign-language teacher his, and so on.

U.S. Representative Dale E. Kildee, Democrat of Michigan, and chairman of the human-resources subcommittee, House Education and Labor Committee:

The pressure is going to be on addressing vocational education. There will be efforts to try to target such education to those who really need it the most. We will try to make sure we reach those people who are virtually unemployable in the present business and industrial environment.

Often in the past, school districts have focused efforts on those who just need a little bit of training. But the people really deficient in basic reading and math skills are often neglected, because it takes a greater investment of money and time to bring their skills up.

Gilbert T. Sewall, director, American Textbook Council:

There is a lag between textbook criticism and a new generation of textbooks. Textbook criticism registered in the past three or four years won’t have a payoff, if any, until the mid-1990’s.

We are beginning to see some textbooks with 1989 and 1990 copyrights responding to complaints. So far, those responses have been fairly crude. Publishers are at planning meetings now. What they put in the pipeline in 1990 and 1991 will see the light of day in the middle of the decade.

There is no question in my mind that the efforts for textbook improvement will sustain themselves in the 1990’s. Educators discovered the textbook as the de facto curriculum in classrooms. Those who fund education understand that textbooks can be changed without vast infusions of money in school systems, thereby providing a cost-effective means of curriculum reform.

Dee Brock, senior vice president for education, Public Broadcasting Service:

We haven’t used television as wisely as we might have for the educational process. Now technology has caught up with the dream. We are finally at a point where we can accommodate the lesson plan with technology.

We are combining TV with computer technology, and it is going to revolutionize the way we use television.

Bernard R. Gifford, vice president of education, Apple Computer Inc.:

I forsee a movement of technology from isolated labs into the instructional mainstream and a growing understanding that instructional technology is not a tool that should be used only by the technology sophisticated.

What we’ll see emerging is not the traditional character-based computer, which is nothing more than a super-fast typewriter. Over the course of the decade, we will begin to see the seamless integration of video, graphics, text, and sound in the personal computer. The pioneering instructors will start using the technology in everyday teaching activities.

The personal computer is going to enable us to create any-time, any-place, any-topic learning, and give us the means of breaking the rigid schedule that imposes itself on the education process.

Alan Gartner, director of research, graduate school of the City University of New York, and a critic of special education:

Perhaps for the first time, American education in the 1990’s will be concerned about the quality of education for all students--not based on opportunity, but based on achievement and outcomes, and not excusing some students from achieving on the basis of their race, their gender, or their disability.

The trend will be to establish “youth schools.” These are schools that have accepted the responsibility to serve and succeed with all children. And they do the things they need to do to make that happen. They bring the locus of the decisionmaking closer to where the youngsters are. They adapt the curriculum to meet the varied needs of all students. They “unteach” the staff the principle that they cannot teach some children.

Those of us who came to adulthood in the post-World War II years know a time when America was rich enough and strong enough to be wasteful. We could afford to discard 20 or 30 percent of the population that did not do well in schools. We can’t afford to do that anymore.

Anne Henderson, associate, National Committee for Citizens in Education:

The challenge will be educating students from minority cultures and low-income families--that is, making our schools work for people who need education the most. We’re rapidly becoming a nation of minorities, and the challenge is making schools work for everyone if public education is to survive into the next century.

I think what we have to do--really the key to educating our least privileged children--is that we have to make schools more supportive of the family. Every time somebody talks about the dropout problem they list this whole litany of social ills--the breakup of the family, poverty, drugs--and they don’t look at the schools themselves. If schools continue to treat parents as unimportant or negligible influences on a child and take the attitude, “Look, we’re going to educate this child despite his family,” they’re undermining family relationships.

Studies show that a kid who believes working hard in school will make a difference does well in school. But a kid who feels there’s nothing he can do to better himself, that the deck is stacked against him, will fail. To the extent that schools reinforce that attitude by telling families, “You’re powerless or unimportant,” they’re creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Robert Cervantes, director, child-development division, California Department of Education:

In California and in the Southwest, but also in parts of the Eastern Seaboard, we will be addressing the increasing number of children from varying language groups. This will prompt discussion of how to best deal with the needs of these children and will bring into question our assumptions and teaching methods.

Charlene Popham, immediate past president, National Rural Education Association:

We must keep in mind that there will always be children who live in isolated areas or small towns. That’s just the nature of our country. As states go about establishing goals for education, the parameters of rural communities and rural schools should be considered.

We must not lose some of the valuable things we have in rural schools. Those schools are models of small, humanistic units of people.

Margaret Wang, professor of educational psychology and director of the center for research and human development, Temple University:

The students that schools will be asked to serve over the next decade will be increasingly diverse. We can no longer leave the education of children with special needs to special programs. The facts of life are that all children are different and all specially require an education that is reflective of their educational needs. The question is: How do we make the regular school environment more powerful in dealing with this diversity?

This agenda has not changed over the past 100 years. Because of what I call the new “morbidities” of society--teenage pregnancy, economic issues, drug and alcohol abuse, and others--the children who are coming to school are not as well equipped for school. Statistics show that children of children need more help in school, for example. What is special about special education is going to be special for most children in schools.

In some schools right now, 50 percent or more of the children could qualify for categorical programs. The question is not who needs to be served. It’s really: How do we make the learning environment more powerful, so that we can be more adaptive?

Norena Hale, president, National Association of State Directors of Special Education, and director of special education, Minnesota:

In special education, the issue I identify is babies being born and living who didn’t live even a few years ago. We have babies living with fetal alcohol syndrome, babies living who are drug exposed, premature births--at least 50 percent will be handicapped as a result of those conditions and problems--babies with aids, babies having transplants and living. We will have more children living who have severe handicapping conditions than ever before. There will be funding questions.

The new advances in technology and adaptive devices also raises the issue of who’s going to pay for it. This will cause us to look into the purpose of special education.

Harriet A. Egertson, administrator, office of child development, Nebraska Department of Education:

We’re going to see at least in some places a re-emergence of the notion of the neighborhood school, but it’s going to have a much broader function. School people will begin to share the school with other community agencies so that the local elementary school will become more of a support center where young families can get help with a variety of needs.

Education will be seen as one of the services needed, not the only one. Other needs will include access to social services, support for pregnant mothers, parent education, child care, and recreation. What I’d like to see is for children to have a less complicated set of social settings with which to deal than they do now with such a fragmented system of support.

Marilyn Smith, executive director, National Association for the Education of Young Children:

I’m seeing a grassroots trend of some new partnerships that are going to be stronger. One of these is between employers and parents. It’s almost as if business leaders are taking the lead on this and giving parents permission to become more expressive of concerns about their children--the recent child-care initiatives announced by ibm and Johnson & Johnson, for example.

Business leaders are recognizing that for the future and the future quality of the workforce, we have got to invest in all kids. If you get big, prestigious corporations setting a pace here, and really acting on it, many others will follow.

We will see new partnerships between teachers and parents as well. If these trends play out, politicians will end up having to be responsive to constituents’ demand that the nurturance of children be a top priority.

Edward F. Zigler, Sterling Professor of Psychology and director, Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy, Yale University:

Education has got to get way beyond concern about curriculum to understand that children’s development is not a six-hour phenomenon that takes place in school, but is determined by home life and the circumstances of their own biological development.

Schools are swimming upstream and will continue to swim upstream until they finally realize they cannot compartmentalize the child. We must think of the child as a family member, a member of society. Until this happens, all of this talk about excellence isn’t going to amount to very much.

We will see a new school in America--one where children will be enrolled at age 3. There will be more family support, starting the minute a child is born. There will be before- and after-school care; schools will be open year round from 7 to 6. There will be child care in school buildings, but we won’t call it child care, we’ll call it “educare.’' We will finally see that if we want a child to learn at age 5, we must make sure child care is of good quality. We have got to do something about the child-care situation, and tying it to schools makes the most sense. I have no doubt it will happen over the next 10 years.

Allan Shedlin, executive director, Elementary School Center, New York City:

We need to develop a new common language for various professionals who work with children and an increased recognition that the different professions have to come together on behalf of children. We need to create a new language, which I would call “kinderspeak,” because it would not only help bring together the professions working with children but create a language where children are at the center of our concerns.

That is absolutely happening; I see it developing more in the 90’s, driven by the realization that we need to change the focus.

We need to develop a child-impact policy whereby we don’t do anything that has a potential impact on children before we analyze its possible effects. I would also like to see a child-advocate general in the White House and child savings bonds that would allow people to designate certain amounts of money that would go for children.

John Esty, president, National Association of Independent Schools:

The attention that will be accorded to public education in the next decade is symbolized by this year’s education summit and its ensuing national agenda. The part of that agenda interesting independent schools the most would be restructuring.

What may be most interesting about the agenda, however, is that it pre-empts a lot of things independent schools thought they had a monopoly on, such as choice, excellence, no central office, principals in charge, teachers creating the curriculum, liberal-arts graduates being able to teach without a lot of certification requirements.

Because of this, I have urged independent schools over the next decade to concentrate on areas where we will continue to be unique, even as we are pressed by good public schools determined to be even better.

The top three are teaching all the time, in study halls and on the athletic field, not just in the classroom; nurturing a sense of community service; and fulfilling the potential to be truly multicultural communities. A fourth area, maybe the most important, is teaching, learning, and living in an ethical context.

Bishop Wilton Gregory, auxiliary bishop, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago:

If Catholic education is to continue into the future, we are going to have to broaden our understanding of who owns the school, who is responsible. They will have to be looked at as regional or area or multiparish-owned schools.

We also must address the presence of non-Catholic students in our schools, and their impact on the Catholic schools’ responsibility for educating Catholic students.

Robert Atwell, president, American Council on Education:

We’ve got to do a better job in higher education for minorities, especially black and Hispanics.

The 1990’s for higher education is going to be the age of limits. The national priorities are going to be K-12 education.

Donald Stewart, president, The College Board:

The 1990’s will witness an all-out attack on educational weaknesses. I hope we see Americans deciding the real battle is not in defense, but in education.

The College Board will set out to attack the gap in high-school-to-college participation and college completion. That is our single most overriding goal. That is the what, but the how has to be through improved K-12 preparation, with an emphasis on math preparation. We think that is going to be the key to college-going.

A version of this article appeared in the January 10, 1990 edition of Education Week as A Look Ahead: Education and The New Decade