Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Teachers Resist High-Tech Push in Idaho Schools

It appears there are a number of dynamics here that should be addressed, the most important being the need to educate the children. Teachers fear losing their jobs but want the best for their students. Tech companies think they have the answers and want the business. Legislators and taxpayers want to contain costs and give the best education to their children. But worst of all, unions want control, power and dues and could care less about education.

Eliminating the union stranglehold on public workers would go a long way in solving the cost problem, and elimination of the the ridiculous work rules would free up the teachers to teach.

Teachers should recognize by now that the future will run on technology and the majority of jobs will require hi-tech familiarity. A blend of technology with the use of the socratic method in teaching would better prepare the student for the future.

If the tech companies provide a lousy product, no one will buy it. It is to their advantage to make a product that does what it is meant to do, educate. Let them earn their profits and let them keep them.

Let the teachers learn along with their students and prepare themselves for the future. Make the legislators and taxpayers happy by controlling costs and let the unions go the way of the dodo bird.

Ann Rosenbaum, a former military police officer in the Marines, does not shrink from a fight, having even survived a close encounter with a car bomb in Iraq. Her latest conflict is quite different: she is now a high school teacher, and she and many of her peers in Idaho are resisting a statewide plan that dictates how computers should be used in classrooms.

Last year, the state legislature overwhelmingly passed a law that requires all high school students to take some online classes to graduate, and that the students and their teachers be given laptops or tablets. The idea was to establish Idaho’s schools as a high-tech vanguard.

To help pay for these programs, the state may have to shift tens of millions of dollars away from salaries for teachers and administrators. And the plan envisions a fundamental change in the role of teachers, making them less a lecturer at the front of the room and more of a guide helping students through lessons delivered on computers.

This change is part of a broader shift that is creating tension — a tension that is especially visible in Idaho but is playing out across the country. Some teachers, even though they may embrace classroom technology, feel policy makers are thrusting computers into classrooms without their input or proper training. And some say they are opposed to shifting money to online classes and other teaching methods whose benefits remain unproved.

“Teachers don’t object to the use of technology,” said Sabrina Laine, vice president of the American Institutes for Research, which has studied the views of the nation’s teachers using grants from organizations like the Gates and Ford Foundations. “They object to being given a resource with strings attached, and without the needed support to use it effectively to improve student learning.”

Read full NYT article here.

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