Saturday, April 5, 2008

Governor Pawlenty

I was watching a favorite TV show of mine on Minnesota PBS this weekend and the Governor was on talking about how schools are always in a state of emergency.  He's right.  I don't think that American schools have ever been given boat loads of money.  Schools buy, with the money they do get, things that have been getting more and more expensive.  Health insurance and energy to name two.
He also commented that schools are going to go through a radical change in the next 15 years or so; as technology comes more and more into play.  (I am not direct quoting here.  Please visit Almanac here and look for the the April 4, 2008 episode.)
I wonder if he thought that tech would make education cheaper?  It has been my experience with technology in education that the technology doesn't really mean you can use fewer teachers to do the work if you want to have high quality work done.  That is still going to take a teaching staff.  A technically fluent, well-trained, teaching staff.
Technology can help teachers communicate ideas better.  It can also help diagnose problems and gaps in understanding.  Technology can also make help available 24/7/365.  The mission really is about making certain student understanding is created.  That is still going to take teachers.  
Computers haven't wiped out accountants from the American workforce. Computers haven't replaced engineers or lawyers either.  I'm sure computing has made it possible for those professions to do their jobs better.  Technology in education can do the same.
Now about the funding.  My district is cutting this year.  From what I hear, we are not alone.  We are roughly a million and change in the hole right now.  Our plan to get out of debt involves hundreds of thousands of dollars of cuts for the next 5 years.  
Whole programs are being disposed of right now.  
We do not have enough tech support staff right now.
One of the things cut back was training for the staff.  If schools are going to change we need training right now.  
If technology is going to change our schools, we need the means to cope right now.
Please don't use change as an excuse to not invest now.  We need to do change right.  Now.

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