Kansas City School’s Untested Tech Program
The Kansas City School Board recently unveiled a new program in which they’ll give each student a tablet computer.
Andrea Flinders, president of the local teachers’ union, was critical of the plan, saying:
If you think throwing a computer at [students] in August and letting them take it home is going to automatically cure all the evils of this district, then you are clueless.
Flinders is correct; there is no compelling research indicating that such an approach is worthwhile. And if the school district wants to test such a program, this is not how they should go about it.
An article in Salon Magazine sheds some light on the practice, which is not limited to Kansas City:
[F]or all the anecdotal evidence supporting iPads, there’s other anecdotal evidence from schools that suggests iPads actually harm education.
What do school board members make of the controversy? Board Member Kyleen Carroll told teachers that if they are not on board with the plan to “go somewhere else.” This is similar to a reaction from Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) officials when parents objected to scripted answers to their questions about the Common Core State Standards. Officials said, “If you are unable to follow the way we are going to hold this meeting, you’re welcome to go ahead and leave.”
Of course, some families will do exactly that. In some ways, that is normal and fine. That is how cities and schools are forced to compete. However, for poor families, that is not exactly a realistic option. And it is never the proper reaction from a public official such as a school board member.
Parents and teachers are frustrated with the education bureaucracy’s inability to efficiently and effectively educate our children. If anyone needs to leave or go somewhere else, it is the bureaucrats, not the parents.