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The View from 2025

A child in a pilot outfit smiles with outstretched arms in front of large wings drawn on a grey wall

A lot has been said about 2020, but what I think about is the view when we look back from 5-10 years in the future.

In many ways, 2020 illuminated the issues that were already present in our society and our educational system. The pandemic brought them to light and then accelerated them.

Impact on students is alarming with estimates pointing to students losing three months to a year of learning. Students with dyslexia, language needs, economic disadvantages, disabilities, and learning disabilities are highly impacted.

What do we want to see looking back from 2025?

We’re already beginning to see some bright spots. By and large, students see the real value of in-person education (it was only apparent when it was taken away). Acceptance of assistive technology has never been higher as educators and administrators look for ways to combat the COVID slide. Use of accessible technologies has exploded and have become essential everyday learning tools. These were the things that happened quickly.

But over the next five years, there will be other opportunities:

  • Designing inclusive environments combining the best of in-person learning with technology
  • Spotting students at risk of falling behind before it’s too late and having the right help ready
  • Helping raise opportunities for students so they can participate in society in a meaningful way and feel they have a path to take

These things will take collaboration across the divide. You are at the forefront of the wave of change. It’s not an easy job to do, but when we get through it and look back, we’ll see the view from the highest mountain.

As Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out, “Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.”

Thank you for the important work you are doing. It’s the human part of teaching that is most humane and impactful

Don Johnston smiles at the camera wearing a helmet
Don Johnstons signature in blue ink on a white background


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Karen A. Erickson, Ph.D.​

Karen A. Erickson, Ph.D. is Director of the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies at University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill. Her focus is on understanding the best ways to assess and teach reading and writing to children with the most severe disabilities. As a special education teacher, Dr. Erickson has worked to support students with a range of disabilities in a variety of classroom settings, particularly students who do not use speech as their primary means of communication.


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