Making a better future for the next generation in North Carolina.

The Extraordinary Class of 2044: A Future History

by | Feb 15, 2023 | Children, Education, Future Planning, Government, North Carolina, Well-being | 0 comments

The 2044 high school graduating classes in North Carolina may have been the best prepared in the country. They were certainly the best in their state’s history. North Carolina graduated over 98% of the kids who had lived in the states since kindergarten.

Many of “The Class of 2044” actually graduated in earlier years. Many had gained enough college credits to skip the first year or two of college. Personalized learning systems developed in the 2030s helped speed up high school for them. But a bigger role was played by the transformation of students.

Teachers noticed attitudes and behaviors of elementary school students changing for the better in the 2030s. Things had calmed down from the wild 2020s. Teachers saw fewer discipline problems, less shouting and showing off in class, longer attention spans, and more homework showing up on time.

Parents supported and encouraged their kids to do well in their studies – and to respect their teachers. That was nice. Some teachers even posted online about how working with students had become pleasurable again.

“I haven’t felt this good about teaching since before the COVID pandemic,” wrote a veteran teacher. “I’ve got eager students, supportive parents, tech systems for learning that make my job easier, and great support from my administration. I can be more like a learning coach than an old-fashioned teacher.”

By 2040, the quality of North Carolina’s public schools rivaled the best private schools in their states. Additionally, the progress was evenly spread — a school’s Zip Code no longer determined its students’ educational opportunities.

Reforming the schools

In the mid-2020s public pressure forced leaders in North Carolina to take action. There was a new determination to do whatever was necessary to make the schools work for all children. Educational consultants now point to North Carolina’s educational systems as a model. Beginning around 2026, both states implemented research-based programs like these:·

These reforms played a role but changes in schools were only half of the story. The other half of the education puzzle was improvements in the well-being of the students. Researchers presented compelling evidence that kids who lived in a healthy and stimulating home environment were more likely to suceed at school. They were much better learners, more excited about school, and less troublesome for their teachers.

Helping families give kids a strong start in life

The keystone change in North Carolina was a set of pro-family policies that gave children a good start on education (and life) from birth to age eight. The public finally had enough with tinkering around the edges and demanded both reform of the schools and reform of programs for children’s well-being.

In the early 2020s, leaders in North Carolina knew what needed to be done. Advocacy groups like NC Child, and EducationNC publicized research-based ideas about improving conditions for families, children, and education systems. North Carolina’s government had its office for Early Childhood. These organizations expressed high aspirations. Yet, neither state was succeeding.

In 2022, less than half of North Carolina’s kids were proficient with reading or math by 4th grade. The 2022 Kids Count Data Book ranked North Carolina 34th in child well-being. 20% of its kids lived in poverty, 58% had not attended a pre-school, and 36% lived in single-parent homes.

In the aftermath of the COVID 19 pandemic, North Carolina was in a race to the bottom. Many families were living in stressful conditions and not able to help their kids succeed at school. Classrooms were chaotic. Teachers felt unsupported. Administrators felt like political punching bags. Everything seemed about to fall apart…and then – surprisingly – things turned around by 2026.

Can you write the end of this scenario?

  • · What made state leaders come together to enact the school reforms and child well-being policies needed to excel?
  • Was there a bipartisan consensus, or did one party ram them through?
  • How did they fund them?
  • How were the reforms made politically safe so legislators could vote for them without fear of losing the next election?
  • Who were the supporters and how was their support rallied?
  • Who were the opposition and how were they neutralized?
  • What could we do to make this all happen?

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