I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

25 July 2014

Luddite Kindergarten

It's a good thing Proposition 30 passed, because California's schools are going to need it.  Honestly, we had better start the campaign for continuing the Prop 30 taxation schemes, because we are setting schools up to have ever-increasing technology costs.

The Smarter Balanced Assessments are all done online; beyond that, their performance tasks are fundamentally typing tasks.  If every third through fifth grader in a school is going to have the annual pleasure (well, probably thrice yearly, especially at our poorer schools  - how can we know how kids will do on the test unless we waste weeks of learning giving ongoing assessments?) of typing two essays, every kid starting in Kindergarten will need regular screen time.  (Also, SBAC was originally going to make K-2 tests as well as 3-12; if this really happens and the District demands them, they had better realize that one laptop cart isn't going to cut it.)

And since these tests are rather unwieldy and constantly updated, regular hardware and software purchases are going to be annual costs.

This is an equity issue, of course,   Wealthier students have more access to technology outside of the classroom.  Moreover, they have more access to computers that use the kind of interface SBAC does.  There is no Swype typing or touchscreen use on Smarter Balanced.  It demands a keyboard and mouse.  If your home gets online via inexpensive tablet or cell phone, you are less ready for SBAC.

Traditionally, technology is a site-based budgeting item.  Some schools have invested in technology, others haven't.  But between the utter inadequacy of the Weighted Student Formula and the District's ongoing commitment to inequity via PTA, schools with significant tech infrastructure are wealthier schools.  It's a to those that hath shall be given type situation, really.

(Also, there's the whole wifi/ethernet capacity problem at some schools wherein the Disrtict contractor took the money and didn't do the work.  I don't know much about this scandal, but I do know that the schools that have this problem are clustered in poor neighborhoods, probably because the District charges schools to fix the problem.)

Anyway, between Smarter Balanced and the CCSS (Starting in K, the standards demand technology), I think an enormous amount of money is going to end up going to Apple and the like.  Ultimately, I am opposed - not only because I don't think that private corporations should be making quite so much cash off our public system, particularly when they are working so hard to control it, but also because it further warps the school day.

As it is, teachers don't have enough time for everything.  More tech time means less time elsewhere, and I suspect it will be the usual suspects that disappear: the arts, music, physical eduation, even social studies and science (if you don't test it, why teach it?).  Schools serving children with fewer out of school technology opportunities will have to place more emphasis on tech just to get the kids through the test.  So as always, the worst constraints will be placed on the children who most need the freedom.

Personally, I would rather have a sand and water table than an ipad.  I would like my students to spend more time finger painting than typing.  I value parachute play over online learning activities.  Moreover, I believe that the research shows the importance of early childhood play.  I believe getting dirty is a human right, really.

Given our current education path, I sometimes wonder how much longer I really want to work at high-needs schools.

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