After more than six weeks of handicapping, assessment, critique, and other such parlor games, we can finally see the plume of white smoke emitting from the Chicago chimney. President-elect Barack Obama has selected Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan as his nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education.
For the past few weeks, the crystal ball gazers waiting to see who is tapped for EdSec have been all a twitter about how the choice will serve as the white smoke as to whether the Obama Administration is the status quo or a reformer when it comes to education. Will reformers (whether they be Democrats for Education Reform or advocates for new ideas such as Teach for America or New Leaders for New Schools) be given the keys to Maryland Avenue? Or will the old guard (be it the teachers unions or old-school researchers and academics) be given the power to lead?
In keeping with Eduflack’s ongoing discussion of technology in the classroom, following is a guest post from Kelly Kilpatrick.
and colleges have undergone a sea of change from the days when I was a regular
at both. And lest you think that I’m as old as Methuselah, let me stress that I
graduated just a couple of years ago, which means that there’s been a rapid
change in a short span of time. Technology and the way it’s being leveraged in
schools is a major debating point with both pundits and laymen alike – neither
is sure if it’s a boon or a bane in the classroom.
the controversy surrounding the introduction of laptops for every child in
school – some condemned this move arguing that it would distract children from
their lessons, that they would be immersed in the world of video games and the
Internet and forget what they were in school for; others claimed that by
denying children this opportunity to explore and learn for themselves, without relying
too much on teachers and facilitators, we are setting them back in their
thing with technology is that it works wonders as long as the child is
interested in learning and is not easily distracted by other pastimes. Some
argue that interest is born when technology is involved, that when there are
more interesting aspects to school than just books and teachers, kids show a
keenness for learning that was never there before. But is it interest in the
technology itself or an interest for the subject that the technology allows
access to? Can we make this distinction to the advantage of the child?
question that crops up with relevance to education and technology is – Does
reliance on technology make us more stupid in the long run? With the advent of
calculators, we’ve forgotten how to do mental mathematics; with the
introduction of mobile phones and storage memories, we’ve forgotten how to
remember and recollect phone numbers; and with the advent of social networking,
we’re all hiding behind screen personas that we work so hard creating that
we’ve forgotten who we really are.
then, does this mean for the future of technology? Are we to eschew it
altogether simply because it makes our brains lazy and prevents us from
thinking for ourselves? Or should we say to hell with the consequences and let
the march of the machines continue unchecked into every aspect of our daily
lives? The truth is, we’re not forced to choose either extreme – there’s a
middle ground that’s totally acceptable with the way things are today.
must be used as an aid to education and nothing more – the trick lies in
knowing where to draw the line between using it as an application and as an
addiction. And when students are able to make this distinction for themselves,
only then will technology truly contribute to our learning experience.
post was contributed by Kelly Kilpatrick, who writes on the subject of an online university. It represents Kelly’s opinions, and she invites
your feedback at email@example.com.)
To paraphrase the Godfather, just when we thought it was done, he goes and brings it back to life. For the past year or so, just about anybody who is anybody had written off No Child Left Behind. We assumed the law was dead, and we figured that ESEA reauthorization would occur in 2010 at the earliest. But then U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy strikes. According to today’s Politico, Kennedy has added NCLB reauthorization to his wish list (thanks to the FritzWire for spotlighting the news story.)
With yesterday’s arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich for an alleged “pay-to-play” scheme to fill President-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat, one has to wonder about the larger implications on Obama’s remaining Cabinet appointments. The history of ethics in Chicago politics is legendary. Blagojevich’s alleged exploits are the latest chapter, perhaps a little more brazen and little more offensive than some of those that came before him. But it reminds us of the Chicago of old, and makes us wonder what the Illinois governor and his chief of staff may have been up to in the past.
Eduflack has been a broken record when it comes to the need to equip all students with the knowledge and skills they need to achieve in the 21st century. We know all kids will need higher-level math, science, and technology skills if they are to hold good jobs a year or a decade from now. And we’ve put the impetus on our K-12 system to provide the instruction relevant to today’s economy and to tomorrow’s opportunities.
In recent weeks, we’ve spent a great deal of time talking about economic stimuli, bailouts, and investing in the future. We talk about what is necessary to compete in the 21st century workforce, what skills our kids need to acquire to compete, and how we as a nation stack up against other nations. We look at our major industries, wondering which will thrive and which will still just exist a decade or two from now.
We have all heard the stories of how classroom teachers are forced to supplement instructional materials on their own dime. Every fall, office supply stores offer discounts for teachers, knowing that supplies are being funded directly from the pockets of educators (and not just from the school districts themselves). According to the National Education Association, the average teacher spends $430 of their own hard-earned dollars for books and supplies for the students in their classrooms.
Years ago, Eduflack attended a Lumina Foundation for Education conference on the cost of college. Lumina’s Making Opportunity Affordable effort helped throw a spotlight on many of the costs associated with higher education, with effort calling on the education community at large to offer real solutions that could help address the concerns associated with the rising costs of college.
e student health centers, and the athletic facilities. Virtual ed should be seen as a path to get more kids into college, not purely as a profit center for the institution.