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Teachers Resist High-tech Push In Idaho Schools 311

Posted by samzenpus
from the hold-onto-your-slide-rules dept.
First time accepted submitter Jack W writes "This morning's NY Times highlights the issue of learning in our public schools and the proper role of technology. The Idaho governor and his state school superintendent are advocating a legislative bill for a massive infusion of computers and on-line technology in schools and is meeting resistance from state teachers, particularly the part of the bill that requires high school students to take online courses for two of their 47 graduation credits. Superintendent Luna is quoted as saying, the computer 'becomes the textbook for every class, the research device, the advanced math calculator, the word processor and the portal to a world of information.' The article notes that the governor had received campaign contributions from technology companies and that Apple and Intel had played a part in drafting the bill."
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Teachers Resist High-tech Push In Idaho Schools

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  • by dreamchaser (49529) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @09:49PM (#38591600) Homepage Journal

    If you'd read the article (I know, I know. No I'm not new here) you'd have seen that the teachers are opposed to it because the State is diverting funds from salaries to pay for it.

  • by ctmurray (1475885) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @10:07PM (#38591720) Journal
    I was on the parent tech committee when we rolled out laptops to every kid in 7 to 9 Jr High, which they took home with them each night. All these were concerns that turned out to be nearly non-existent. You set up the program with some extra units to handle issues and keep the kid with computer.

    1. Lost/Stolen devices. Who pays for replacements? Why?

    Did not happen to any degree (I don't recall hearing about any but it might have happened). The kids loved the laptops. They "grew up" and treated them as their most precious possession. We did not require them to take out insurance, just replaced from our stock.

    2. Damaged systems that need replacement. Who pays? Why?

    Happened very rarely. Couple of LCD screens got banged up (closing lid hard with pencil in the joint was the leading cause). Replaced the unit immediately (kid just exchanged at the repair room). We had a cheap source to replace the LCD (vendor set us up with their repair contractor). So no one paid anything.

    3. Virus infections and such. What's the turn-around time on support for those? Will the school have extras to loan while they "clean" the students' machines?

    Had Mac computers and no virus problems (don't hate me, it was true). We had replacements not loaners so all your data had to be on the server at all times. Any problem with the computer was dealt with by taking in the problem unit and replacing with one from stock. Then offline repairing the turned in unit.

    4. Upgrade policy. Will the freshman class have better equipment than the senior class?

    These started out as the units just replaced by a slightly faster model. Everyone in all classes got their computers from the same larger stock. All grades turned in their computers at year end and got a "different" unit the next year. But all the same model and style. For what you do with the laptop the fastest and latest is unnecessary. The plan was to replace them after three years with a new batch.

    And so forth.

    Throwing tech at a non-tech problem is stupid. And tech gets old really fast. And tech needs expensive support.

    We had one adult in the exchange room during the day. The best techie student became the person that re-imaged devices (which was the first line of "repair"). And then any true damage was sent out for repair. 900 students with laptops. One person and a volunteer. The only crunch came before the year to image 900 units in a short period of time, but that is where we used adult volunteers and teaching staff in the summer for a week or so.

    If anyone is truly interested I can share more details (I would need to look up some of the details, for example the number of extra computers we had in the tech room). Many parents were convinced their child could not be trusted (and many in the community were sure that these juvenile delinquents would immediately steal us blind). But other schools experiences mirrored what we saw. Very low incidents of any problems, these kids really rose to the occasion.

  • by medv4380 (1604309) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @01:19AM (#38592814)
    If you lived in Idaho and watched it go down you'd know better.

    The funds aren't being diverted from salaries. Sure salaries are being cut, but Salaries + Tech does not equal what their budget was. They were getting a budget cut ether way. Then Luna decided that this group that paid him money for his campaign should get their little Technology In the Classroom project forced in. The original plan was going to require the local schools to come up with the money coupled with a state wide cut to education which would have required firing some teachers and reducing the number of classes available. However, most of our Rural Schools out in the middle of no were with a population of less than 100 were going to have to find a way raise the funds. Parents also aren't too happy with the idea that they are cutting back on actual teaching even more in-favor of an idiot box baby sitter. I'm all for fixing out Education System but this is just more of the same Politics that has made our Education System what it is today.

    PS Idaho is that state that tricked the people into approving a Sales Tax(1966) [] that would ALL go to education then turned around and said ohh all tax money goes into the General Fund per the State Constitution and the Legislature gets to decide how to spend it.

  • by weiserfireman (917228) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @12:09PM (#38597352) Homepage

    Idaho Native in one of those rural towns. I have friends on the local school board that are having to deal with this idiotic law.

    Our high school averages 500 kids, 125 per class. In 4 years, there will be 500 laptops or tablets needing support. The school district doesn't even employ a full time IT person now. They have one of the high school business teachers be the Network administrator.

    With the additional support load, now they are going to have to have an IT department. It is going to be beyond 1 person.

    Now add on other laws about requiring schools to filter internet access on computers that kids have access to. The law doesn't say that it only applies to equipment located at the school. It applies to all school district equipment, no matter the location. So your IT department has to be sophisticated enough to manage web filtering for traveling equipment so that it is filtered no matter where it is. I know there are products out there that do this, but is a step up in sophistication. One thought being tossed around by the school board is that they won't allow the students to take the laptops or tablets home.

    They thought maybe they could save money on textbooks by buying the e-book versions and issuing those to the students to use on the laptops or tablets. But for the most part, the textbook publishers are charging the same price for e-book or hard bound. With DRM schemes, the textbook publisher is forcing faster refresh cycles too. So they charge the same price, but you have to buy them more often

    There are school districts that are even smaller. They might have 40 kids in their high school. They have even less IT skills in their schools, but will have to have much more sophisticated networks now.

    Our school has several "smart classrooms". They are telepresence equipped classrooms. One of our local teachers teaches a course on Holocaust Literature not only in our school, but through this kind of technology, to six other high schools in our region. This is good technology. This is the kind of technology that the schools wanted more of. It is relatively cheap to equip these classrooms these days and the equipment is simple to maintain. But this kind of technology isn't getting funded. Instead we are getting more expensive solutions that require more maintenance and support.

    It is asinine.

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.