Andrea Flinders, Kansas City’s Acting Superintendent
Andrea Flinders is president of the Kansas City Federation of Teachers, the AFL-CIO-affiliated teachers’ union. But last week at the board meeting of the Kansas City Public School District, it seemed as if she also was the acting superintendent.
Flinders rose during public comments to restate her opposition to the 1:1 technology program, which would have the district buying 17,000 computer tablets. She was very critical of Superintendent Stephen Green and his unresponsiveness to her questions about the program. Of the initiative itself, she said:
There is no 1:1 implementation plan.
But don’t take my word for it. Ask to see the classroom diagrams for each school showing which classrooms currently have working wireless access points or working Eno boards, or working projectors, or enough electrical outlets, or proper furniture. For the classrooms that don’t have those things, ask administration to show you the cost and the timeline for getting these classrooms ready for 1:1. Ask to see proof that the district has enough bandwidth, and if there isn’t, how much will enough cost.
Ask to see the procedure for students getting computers. Is there a form? Do students sign for it? Do parents? What happens to students whose parents don’t or won’t sign for it? Ask for that written procedure. What’s the plan and procedures for the student who leaves the computer at home? What happens if a computer is stolen, or broken, or lost? Ask to see that procedure. Ask to see the plan to show students how to use and take care of their device. Ask to see the insurance policy. Is there insurance? Are you requiring parents to pay a fee? Ask to see the process for gaining parental permission.
Ask to see the procedure at the school site for checking out computers to students. Who’s in charge of it at the school site? How will teachers print student work? Nine hundred students printing to one copier could be a problem, because there are no printers in the classrooms. Has the paper and copier budget been increased? Ask to see the building plan for accounting for computers. Will both classified and certified staff members get these computers? Where does it say that? Ask to see the plan and timeline for training staff and students on the hardware.
Board Chair Airick West asked Flinders what she would propose instead. She rattled off several suggestions for launching a much smaller — and less costly — pilot program involving perhaps just one school in the district. Remember, she was given almost no time to prepare a response.
We previously wrote about the problems with the proposed technology program and we lauded Flinders’ opposition. The “plan” she criticizes was “developed” by school district administrators being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries and benefits. Yet it seems to be full of holes.
Flinders was “acting superintendent” because she seemed to be the only one providing thoughtful suggestions to the board or to be interested in really holding the superintendent and district staff to account.