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Class of 2020: Action Plan for Education ~ 13 Years Flew By 

Students Multicultural Barefoot

It is difficult to believe that it has been 13 years since SETDA’s 2008 journey in developing and publishing the Class of 2020: Action Plan for Education. This project included a Student Bill of Rights and a series of white papers (below). At that time, the critical topics that bubbled to the top were broadband access, online assessments, professional learning, online courses/content and STEM. The COVID-19 pandemic shined a light onto the various topics related to digital learning which include similar subjects from the Class of 2020 work. Technology tools, resources and efficiencies may have evolved since 2008 but unfortunately, most classrooms remained the same. Yes, there have been pockets of innovation such as SETDA’s Student Voices Finalists and Winners and many other schools across the country that have been driving forward, leveraging technology to support all learners. However, the digital divide continues.

The concept of the Class of 2020 was a simple idea from one of SETDA’s most influential leaders, Lan Neugent (retired – Virginia Department of Education) that led to the collaborative initiative which created the foundation for much of SETDA’s work over the last 12 years. Developed with support from members, private sector partners and education leaders from a variety of organizations, these resources provided advocacy and implementation support for digital learning at the state and federal level. The original concept was to inform the new administration about the potential of digital learning and provide the membership with resources to support state work. SETDA leveraged the work to advocate for 2009 stimulus funding direct for education technology which included over $600 million dollars to states via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). ARRA funds did drive some districts to be innovative and support technology integration, however the investments were relatively small and districts often did not plan well to support digital learning once the grants finished. At that time, some districts still considered technology as a “nice perk” versus a new way of learning so technology tools and resources were supplemental versus the norm. 

“Looking back now at this work and the focus on the need for resources such as broadband and professional learning, we were spot-on,” shared Rick Gaisford, Education Technology Specialist, Utah State Board of Education. 

The COVID-19 pandemic recently forced all schools and districts to identify inequities in access to technology and for most, to attempt to implement remote learning. This summer is an opportunity to evaluate the ability to implement digital learning and prepare administrators, teachers, students and families for not only potential blended or remote learning for the fall, but to shift teaching and learning moving forward. The silver lining of crisis can be having equitable, educational opportunities that support the Student Bill of Rights published in 2008. The terminology may have changed but the concepts remain the same.

STudent Bill of Rights Class of 2020

So cheers to the Class of 2020! May your adventures be golden and may you drive innovation in this global society. Cheers also to the Class of 2032! Entering Kindergarten will not look the same as it did in 2008, the students won’t know the difference as much as the parents and educators. As Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper noted back in 1987, the most damaging phrase in the language is “We’ve always done it this way.”  May this silver lining of this pandemic be revolutionized educational models that SETDA and its members have been campaigning for since 2001. 

Class of 2020 White Paper Series (Published in 2008)

Hannah and Matthew


The children of former SETDA staff, Mary Ann Wolf and Sara Hall (Matthew and Hannah)  started kindergarten in 2008 and were part of the inspiration for the Class of 2020 Action Plan. 


CHHS Class of 2020 Graduation Picture

Matthew, Chapel Hill High School (Duke)



Graduation Picture Hannah


Hannah, Severna Park High School (Michigan State)




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