Monday, September 12, 2005

elementary schools go first

There is a spirited discussion raging in one section of the Seattle district email system. It is about the changing of what the district promised its schools from the tech levy. I will not go on about the details, but I will summarize the changes by saying elementary schools are getting much less than they were told to expect.

This decision leaves me absolutely stunned. It comes on the heels of
a weekend article in the Seattle Times about the huge amounts of money school districts (particularly Seattle) are spending on their "crown jewel" high schools.

So, elementary folks are outraged that they are being shorted because the projections weren't exactly accurate. Here is what I say to those making such decisions:

It is a clear no-brainer that the newest, best, and fastest technology MUST go to the youngest students first. No question, no discussion. The best does NOT go first to the oldest students. Ask any educator. Ask anyone who understands the educational process, the way kids learn, and a little bit about technology.

Several years ago I sat next to John Stanford (Joseph O. was the finance guy at the time, sitting across the table), surrounded by all the suits representing technology in the district (with execs from IBM and Microsoft). I was one of two teachers asked to sit in with this group, as they were planning the strategic implementation of an upcoming technology levy. I expressed the above idea to them when they asked how money ought to be allocated. They listened. They said, "Yes, that makes good sense, thank you". It is so very discouraging that big decisions like this are still made based on an outdated and groundless model of deciding who should get the best and fastest equipment.

This space is too short and my time is too limited to go into explaining why this is so. I suggest administrators get together with classroom teachers (not those who have not taught for several years, but those who are front of a classroom every day) and listen to what I am talking about.

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