Technology in the Classroom

Currently in the U.S. there is a push for education to move toward online learning. In some schools, all day students are learning strictly on computers as evidenced in the Pilot School below. Language in the newly passed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)  will allow this ideology to grow. This raises many concerns for parents whose children will be affected. Listed below are just a few of those concerns.

Let’s look at the future our children can expect if we allow this to continue. Legacy High School is one of the Pilot schools for 21st Century Learning using computer based technology for learning. In the student handbook you will see the computer mod schedule. It looks like this.

Mod Schedule

Technology might have a place in education, but to allow it to replace teachers is unthinkable and unconscionable. Due to the teacher shortage, some of these classrooms are staffed with business professionals, people who do not have a degree in teaching or any formal training about childhood development, to fill the void. Is this the direction we are headed here in Florida as well?

Take a look at The Future Ready District Pledge. from the U.S. Department of Education. It states, “Future Ready builds on the momentum of the President’s ConnectED Initiative with the launch of the Future Ready Pledge.” Here is an excerpt taken from the Connect Ed Initiative:

“In June 2013, President Obama announced the ConnectED initiative, designed to enrich K-12 education for every student in America. ConnectED empowers teachers with the best technology and the training to make the most of it, and empowers students through individualized learning and rich, digital content.

Preparing America’s students with the skills they need to get good jobs and compete with other countries relies increasingly on interactive, personalized learning experiences driven by new technology. Yet fewer than 40% of America’s schools have the broadband they need to teach using today’s technology. Under ConnectED, however, 99% of American students will have access to next-generation broadband by 2018. That connectivity will help transform the classroom experience for all students, regardless of income.

The President also directed the federal government to make better use of existing funds to get Internet connectivity and educational technology into classrooms, and into the hands of teachers trained on its advantages. And he called on businesses, states, districts, schools, and communities to support this vision, which requires no congressional action. Following the 2014 State of the Union address, the President announced major progress on the initiative, highlighting commitments by the FCC and the private sector.”

Did I read that right? President Obama can do this without involving Congress? You can find more information about being future ready here. You can also see what private sectors may be benefiting from this initiative and how much money they have donated here.

Equally disturbing is that our district in Pinellas County, FL needed money for technology due to the Digital Classroom Plan as required by Florida Law. Pinellas County Superintendent Dr. Grego signed the Future Ready District Pledge from the USDOE.

Taken from the Agenda packet page 23-24 of The Pinellas School Board Meeting, June 9, 2015:

“A. Items Introduced by Superintendent Dr. Grego’s report included the following:

2) He stated that the US Department of Education has selected Pinellas County Schools as one of nine district finalists from across the nation, and the only district in Florida, to showcase the role leaders’ play in leveraging technology to create transformational learning environments. We were selected out of 400 school districts that have taken the Future Ready District Pledge from across the country. The USDOE Office of Educational Technology visited the district on Thursday to interview staff, students and families to produce four videos about our district’s technology success stories. He thanked Mr. Keith Mastorides, principal Clearwater High, and Mr. Tom Lechner, Associate Superintendent, Technology Information Systems for their role. The videos will focus on unique technology initiatives within the district, including Connect for Success, the free computer loaner program for Title 1 elementary students, and Connect to Compete, a reduced rate internet program sponsored by Bright House Networks, as well as technology used to foster personalized learning and the district’s dynamic technology infrastructure. The videos will be presented to nearly 12,000 superintendents across the country at Future Ready Summits this fall.”

The piece that is not being mentioned in any school board meeting I have ever attended or heard about is the data mining. How are local school districts going to secure our children’s data, and is it even possible? Like everything else in Education, why is this so rushed? Why can’t we just take a step back and analyze this before forging ahead? Why the secrecy? As parents, I hope we are all asking the same questions.

There will be more details about the intrusive data mining in another blog. Stay tuned.

Laura Oosse McCrary
Founder of United for Florida Children


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