kitchen table math, the sequel: Oh brave new world!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Oh brave new world!

photo: Jim Wilson/The New York Time
CHANDLER, Ariz. — Amy Furman, a seventh-grade English teacher here, roams among 31 students sitting at their desks or in clumps on the floor. They’re studying Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” — but not in any traditional way.

In this technology-centric classroom, students are bent over laptops, some blogging or building Facebook pages from the perspective of Shakespeare’s characters. One student compiles a song list from the Internet, picking a tune by the rapper Kanye West to express the emotions of Shakespeare’s lovelorn Silvius.

The class, and the Kyrene School District as a whole, offer what some see as a utopian vision of education’s future. Classrooms are decked out with laptops, big interactive screens and software that drills students on every basic subject. Under a ballot initiative approved in 2005, the district has invested roughly $33 million in such technologies.

The digital push here aims to go far beyond gadgets to transform the very nature of the classroom, turning the teacher into a guide instead of a lecturer, wandering among students who learn at their own pace on Internet-connected devices.

“This is such a dynamic class,” Ms. Furman says of her 21st-century classroom. “I really hope it works.”

Hope and enthusiasm are soaring here. But not test scores.

Since 2005, scores in reading and math have stagnated in Kyrene, even as statewide scores have risen.
In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores
By MATT RICHTEL
Published: September 3, 2011
Spend first, find out the stuff you bought doesn't work later!

My district, one year after the crash (or was it two? time flies--) bought SmartBoards for every single classroom in the district still remaining SmartBoard-free after the first go-round of SmartBoard acquisition.

The reason?

SmartBoard equity.

Seriously. Those were the actual words our administrators and then-school board members used. SmartBoard equity.

There were kids in classrooms with SmartBoards, and there were other kids in other classrooms without SmartBoards. Not fair!

Hence: SmartBoard equity. Taxpayers had to buy SmartBoards for all the classrooms so all the kids could have SmartBoards all the time.

We've got high school kids who can't do long division (I tutored one such student this summer), but no worries. Our district has achieved SmartBoard equity, and that's what counts.


addendum

I realize I've told the SmartBoard equity story before.

I will probably tell it again, because I can't get over it. Where tales of SmartBoard equity are concerned, once is not enough.

High-Tech Heretic: Reflections of a Computer Contrarian
High-Tech Heretic: Reflections of a Computer Contrarian

Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom
Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom

the founder, chairman, and CEO of Netflix has a really bad idea
speaking of technology and stagnant scores
oh brave new world!
codswallop, part 2

6 comments:

Luke said...

As one who has to carefully watch my budget, should a "SmartBoard equity" problem arise in my house, we would simply sell the ones we already have. Makes more sense to me [smile].

~Luke

Laura said...

Ah yes...SmartBoards. My daughter's former parochial school here in AZ had lots of fundraisers for SmartBoards in every classroom. 10 in the school simply were NOT enough! Why? Because ALL the Public Schools had them in every classroom. *sigh* How they would be used wasn't thought through. How the money could be used in other ways to benefit the school wasn't even considered. *deep sigh* And yes, it's true, SmartBoard and computer mania has overtaken schools here in Arizona, while the quality of our educational system remains at the bottom of the barrel.

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

I've posted on a local boondoggle along the same lines:

http://gasstationwithoutpumps.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/wasting-money-on-interactive-whiteboards/

Catherine Johnson said...

As one who has to carefully watch my budget, should a "SmartBoard equity" problem arise in my house, we would simply sell the ones we already have. Makes more sense to me [smile].

Oh my gosh - I've just seen this!

I'm cracking up!

Catherine Johnson said...

My daughter's former parochial school here in AZ had lots of fundraisers for SmartBoards in every classroom. 10 in the school simply were NOT enough! Why? Because ALL the Public Schools had them in every classroom. *sigh*

This phenomenon is a huge problem.

I think this is what people used to call "cultural hegemony" back in graduate school.

The ed school/union establishment is so immense that there is no escaping it. When we toured the two Catholic high schools we were considering for C., parents were complaining that the Jesuit school he ended up attending didn't have technology and wasn't up to date.

These were parents paying out of pocket for a Catholic high school while also supporting their public schools -- and they were unhappy that the Catholic high schools weren't blowing thousands of dollars on 'technology.'

Catherine Johnson said...

My district bought all these extra SmartBoards AFTER THE CRASH.

By that time the town had voted down TWO fields bonds, something that never happens here in Westchester (we were the first town - maybe the only town still - to do so) -- and the board STILL bought a gazillion new SmartBoards on grounds that we had a SmartBoard equity problem.

I bet I still have one of the SmartBoard equity PowerPoints around here somewhere, but I can't put my hands on it quickly.

Wish to heck I could.

Social Justice in a rich suburban town: Smartboard equity.