Looking Forward

If you could look into a crystal ball to see what may come to pass in regard to education, this year’s vision, more than any in the recent history, would probably be the most clouded, considering the change in government, the slow recovery of the economy and a number of other factors. Readers, columnists and others who work in the education field look at 2011 and beyond and share their thoughts about what we have to look forward to — both positive and negative.

Predicting Education Politics for 2011: Are You Kidding?

By Fritz Edelstein

Anyone who says that they know what will happen in Washington, D.C., on Capitol Hill or in the White House pertaining to education policy and budget in 2011, must have special powers and vision.

Several factors will affect what occurs during 2011 when it comes to education policy, legislation and appropriations/funding. With the change in the majority and leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 112th Congress, there will be new rules, priorities and interests. This, along with the emergence of elected Tea Party candidates in the halls of Congress, will alter the temperament of both bodies. Tensions may run strong in both houses, at least during the first few months, as members flex their muscles to show they intend to keep campaign promises.

What we do know, is that under Speaker of the House John Boehner, there is a new rule for all introduced legislation — it will require that all introduced bills include a Constitutional justification for the legislation. This will surely create debates on the floor of the House as to the Constitutionality of certain bills, and delay action.

Republicans want a balanced budget and more rigorous oversight on programs that seem to be either duplicative or ineffective. With a majority in the House, they chair all House committees, including education. Democrats control the Senate and, as a result, there will be some very interesting fights over budgets, funding priorities and programs between the two houses. This will surely test whether either body is interested in bi-partisanship and if we can ever pass a fiscal-year budget.

So, what also MAY HAPPEN during calendar year 2011.
  • Currently, the federal government is operating on a Continuing Resolution through March 2011. It will be intriguing to see what is written into a new continuing resolution for the rest of FY 2011 (ends Sept. 30, 2011). Speaker Boehner will try to bring the federal budget back to FY 2008 funding levels — that is about a five-percent cut (trying to cut some $60 billion). Also, it will be very interesting to see what transpires between the House and Senate to come to some agreement, if any.
  • ESEA conversations will continue in both houses, but there will be no closure on reauthorization. Two bills maybe introduced, but reauthorization drags on for another year unless someone can come up with a deal, and the most likely candidate to do so is Senator Lamar Alexander (R - Tenn.).
  • Republicans in the House and Senate will push for a reduction in education spending and programs that they deem ineffective or redundant to help balance the budget. There will be no increases for Title I or IDEA, and there will be specific changes to the School Improvement Grant program models.
  • President Obama’s FY 2012 Budget (to be released in mid-February) will have minimal increases for education. He will be hopeful just to hold the line in funding.
  • A proposal will be made to change the poverty basis of the funding formulas in education as a result of a new Census Bureau data. Will this be the end of Orshansky’s formula?
  • Congress will not agree on an FY 2012 budget and a continuing resolution or budget reconciliation will be the end result for another year.
  • Without additional assistance to school districts, more teachers will lose their jobs and average class sizes will rise along with a reduction in programs, support and services to the students who need it the most.
  • Expect a continued battle over the regulations controlling for-profit colleges, but the Department of Education will prevail with some compromises.
  • No additional funding and limited extension of some programs that assist in school construction. One new proposal will be put forward to create a new authority to finance school construction and renovation for both charter and traditional K-12 education.
  • Tea Party advocates in the House will fail in an effort to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education, and they may even never get on the agenda to raise it.
  • No additional Race to the Top or i3 funds in the final FY 2012 budget.
  • The House will reduce its own spending levels for committees and offices in its effort to curb the budget imbalance. Will the Senate do the same?
One can only hope that the powers that be can develop some constructive, substantive and relevant education policy/budget for students in the country to improve the quality of educational opportunities under the current political alignment and climate.

Frederick (Fritz) S. Edelstein, Ph.D.
is a principal in the Public Private Action, a consulting group. His work focuses on strategic government and constituent relations, business development strategy, advocacy research and policy analysis, strategic planning and resource development, and advocacy, outreach and public engagement. This work includes producing Fritzwire, the education Internet newsletter providing timely information on education and related issues. You can read Fritzwire everyday to keep up with what is happening in education around the nation and in Washington, D.C. To subscribe, write: [email protected]

What Does the Energy Crystal Ball Reveal for Schools?

By Larry Schoff

Gazing into the energy crystal ball in 2001, one viewed the increasing use/development of energy efficiency items/systems/strategies that would reduce energy consumption in new and existing schools. These items/systems/strategies included: T-8 and T-5 lighting, occupancy sensors, dimming ballasts and day-lighting sensors; energy and utility management; establishment of energy efficiency and sustainability design standards, LEED and CHPS; geo-exchange for heating and cooling; and incorporation day-lighting features into new designs. Gazing deeper into the 2001 crystal ball, the use of renewable energy systems — photovoltaic and wind — were visible but cloudy and LED lighting could hardly be made out.

Today, gazing into the energy crystal ball in 2011, many of the above items are now crystal clear and normal requirements. Looking closer, many new energy efficiency/sustainability elements/strategies are becoming visible and will become clearer in the next three to five years. These include the following:
  1. incorporation of energy awareness and education in the day-to-day operations and curriculum taught;
  2. making every school building a teaching tool — adding energy efficiency (E2) and sustainability (S) to the 3 R’s with an online software platform to advance sustainability in your educational community;
  3. identification and realization of plug and phantom/vampire loads on electrical consumption and how to control them;
  4. maximizing building energy efficiency before consideration of renewable energy sources — Resource: California Grid Neutral — Efficiency cost less than renewables — www.documents.dgs.ca.gov/dsa/pubs/gridneutralpub.pdf; and
  5. requirement and use of energy efficient distribution (dry) transformers — U.S. Dept. Energy’s CSL-3 or C-3 Design — 30 percent more efficient than minimum requirement known as TP-1 in EPACT 2005.
Those gazing into the 2001 crystal ball saw the future energy efficiency/sustainability in schools of today. Your challenge is to gaze into the 2011 energy crystal ball and implement the elements/strategies that will, in 2021, be considered the norm.

Larry Schoff has more than 46 years of background in facilities management, over 26 years with K-12 schools.  Currently assisting schools with energy efficiency evaluations. Assisted with writing the LEED for Schools Doc., ASHRAE Advanced energy design guide for schools and California Grid Neutral document.

Sustainability Will Be the Key

By James Scott Brew

The most important issue facing school construction in the coming year is sustainability. If it's not being built in the most aggressive terms of sustainability, it will be obsolete before its time. And the benefits to the children and staff attending these low-energy, high indoor environmental-quality schools goes beyond human and environmental health — these buildings are pedagogical.

The challenge with sustainable design, in this economy or anytime, is to truly work cross-team in full-on collaboration with shared risks and rewards, such as can be found using consensus documents such as AIA's Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) contracts. Otherwise, the temptation is to cut costs, line-item by line-item, and you cannot achieve integrated design by disintegrating the sundry of materials and systems that make up the built environment.

“The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not the other way around.”
- Senator Gaylord Nelson, founder, Earth Day

James Scott Brew, FCSI, AIA, LEED-AP
, is a Certified Passivhaus Design Consultant and principal architect wit the Rocky Mountain Institute, www.rmi.org and a member of the Construction Specifications Institute.

What 2011 Could Bring for School Safety

By Michael S. Dorn

As with last year, I got a bit nervous when I was asked to write this. Since I don't have a crystal ball, and the economy has been extremely difficult for those who are far more learned than I, I will take my best shot with no warranty as to my accuracy expressed or implied.

Now that adequate legal notice has been provided, we can move forward with some possible trends for 2011. Barring any catastrophic school safety incidents, the economy will likely drive school safety efforts heavily, as it has for the past year. The following are some of the trends we may see in 2011.
  • School safety, security and emergency preparedness efforts may continue to be underfunded as public and non-public schools continue to struggle with funding gaps. Even if the economy rebounds well this year, the lag time for improved funding to reach schools could be considerable, particularly in districts and non-public schools that had severe funding shortfalls in 2009 and 2010.
  • Schools may continue to shift to less-time intensive approaches to staff development relating to safety. Many school organizations have already dramatically reduced the amount of time spent on staff development. As improvements in technologies and cost reductions continue in this area, it is likely that Web training, custom training videos, distance learning and other cost-effective approaches will continue to gain popularity.
  • Many school organizations will continue to attempt to replace direct security and law enforcement personnel costs with security technology solutions. Improvements in security technologies, and in some cases, reduced costs of implementation, have caused more school officials to consider these options, particularly when they can be implemented during new school and renovation construction projects.
The often severe cuts in budgets have forced many school organizations to reduce staffing, combine positions relating to safety and to consider alternative ways to provide safety. My thought is that these trends are likely to carry over in the 2011/2012 school year in many school organizations. Some improvements will be seen in school organizations that see more rapidly improved funding.

Michael Dorn has published 25 books on school safety, and his work has taken him to Central America, Mexico, Canada, Europe, South Africa, Asia and the Middle East. He welcomes reader feedback and suggestions at www.safehavensinternational.org.

Shift of Power at State Level Will Affect Biggest Changes

By John K. Ramsey

After many spirited campaigns in the 2010 elections in the U.S., most of the rhetoric has been focused on the U.S. House and Senate. However, there has not been a great deal of discussion in what typically is of greater interest in midterm elections — the state houses and gubernatorial races. 2010 saw a larger shift of political power in the states and territories than in the federal government, which will have those of us in the school environments business extremely focused. Why? That’s where a great deal of capital funding for school projects begin or is chartered. There were 39 gubernatorial elections and most all states held elections in assemblies, legislatures and state senates. There are 29 new governors taking office this month and an astounding 13 states had a total party shift in their respective state houses. In other words, the “change” that we paid so much attention to in the 2008 federal election is going to be “reality” with midterm 2010 election at the state and local levels.

According to the “Fall 2010 Survey of States,” published by the National Governors Association, 36 states will see less general spending in FY 2011 than in FY 2008. CEFPI will be keeping a keen eye on the climate in the state houses in the U.S. during 2011 as the economy slowly recovers. Our hope is that as tax bases increase (i.e. new revenue sources that can support construction bond initiatives as well as bond ratings), new planning for construction and renovation for schools can begin or resume in areas that have been cut. We will also keep an eye on operational budgets as they pertain to professional development of school facilities personnel. We, like most public sector industries, have seen a downturn in conference attendance, which is essential for sharing best practices, having an edge on new trends and being able to cope in a rebounding economy.

John K. Ramsey, CAE, is the CEO of the Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI).