Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Public School Technology Costs Are Measured In More Than Millions Of Dollars

This morning I read an Op-Ed in the Norman Transcript written by several parents of Norman High School students - anonymously.
I want you to read the letter, but I want to make several points about this letter:

  1. The parents felt the need to publish this anonymously. We need to ask ourselves why. If the comments we've gotten from the posts on our Facebook page about the teacher "walkout" are any indication, they were scared of repercussions on their enrolled children - or themselves - from/by teachers. Dealing unfairly with a student - or treating them differently than other students - because of their parents should be grounds for dismissal, however, with a teacher shortage, it appears all teachers will be kept whether or not they are actively working against parent's wishes. 
  2. These parents shared their concerns with staff ("Parents’ concerns about the technology initiative were never answered last year.") and were clearly IGNORED, prompting them to write a letter where a much larger audience could see it. HEAR THAT: The public servants paid to educate their child/children ignored the very legitimate concerns of these parents.
  3. Apparently when confronted by parents, the FIRST ORDER of business of NPS staff was/is to defend the program and waive away parent concerns (We ask NPS leadership to read this letter carefully, not in order to defend the MacBooks, but to understand the negative impact the technology initiative has brought many Norman families as it has been implemented.).
    Shouldn't the first order of business be to listen to the parents and judge their concerns fairly?
  4. Not only have we written MUCH about student privacy on public school campuses (just search "data" in this blog and it will bring up numerous articles), but we helped author HB1989 in 2013 to help protect student privacy in the face of unimaginable and unprecedented student data collection by the OSDE. These parents have a point. These children are not only unsafe on the internet, but massive data is being collected about their online behavior in conjunction with their student ID.
  5. Norman Public Schools is parenting for parents. Instead of listening to parents - the people who pay their salaries and to whom they've entrusted their children - they are clearly excusing their own behavior while OVERRIDING THE WILL OF PARENTS. We've talked about this numerous times because it happens more and more frequently in public education today - this message to parents of, 'sit down and be quiet, we know what we're doing' is INEXCUSABLE in every sense of the word. 
  6. This technology costs MILLIONS of dollars - 98 Million in 2016 alone. Why in the world do teachers and schools seem hell bent on allowing computers to take over the role of teacher? It seems as though, if we'd quit 'investing' in technology at such a heavy rate, we could afford teacher raises of quite a chunk. Yes, I've heard all the arguments and not only myself, but most of silicon valley (programmers and design techs send their kids to NON-TECH schools because they know how bad it is for kids) believes this kind of teaching to be lazy, distracting and not used in the ways it's meant to be used.

Sadly, this is yet another reason to be skeptical of technology in schools and of public education in general. This is not a new phenomenon - parents being overridden in their desires by school personnel and too much money being spent on something that DOESN'T WORK. I'm grateful these parents spoke out publicly, but will it help? If history is any indication - no.