Sorry I didn't say it all in one post. Teachers' plates are getting fuller and fuller. I watch the board meetings fairly often and the teachers and parents who appear seem to be ignored most of the time. I agree with much of what I hear. Now Dr. Enfield is creating another way for teachers to communicate with parents: turning the school website into a potential blog site that will be monitored by teachers. Good Lord! That's not what we need. How much money has been spent on IT in the Distrist already. Put it at middle and high schools where kids can make more of it. Elementary schools do not need more IT. More bandaids for appearances. They need to change the paradigm.
And, with all the money that has gone into IT, TEACHERS ARE STILL DOING REPORT CARDS BY HAND. Can anyone explain that? At least at my school.
First, just to let you know Joanie, that first sentence was one of the pleas I made to Dr. Enfield. No more new stuff. Too much new work for teachers, too much for parents to absorb, too much work at central. A moratorium on new initiatives for at least a year.
Second, this issue of compounding work is something I have told the Board, repeatedly. I think Central staff has so much work to do that they may not be doing a great job which leads to poor audits and mistakes made. I'm not sure it's the quality of people but the quality of work at Central.
Third, I'm going to have to find out about this "blog" idea for each school. I predict - poor use at some schools, parents worried about anything they say getting back to their teachers and well, it could be a disaster. I'm not sure if a school is already keeping an up-to-date website (and most don't), how a blog will help.
Fourth, the issue of IT development. The NY Times had an article about this last week entitled, "Amid Cuts, City to Spend More on School Technology."
The question, of course, is not whether we think schools need technology. Of course, they do. The question is whether this is the best use of capital money...right now. I would rather see safer buildings. (Another "this or that".) I would rather see salaries for capital staff come out of the Operations budget and the money be used for schools. Here's what the Times' article says:
Despite sharp drops in state aid, New York City’s Department of Education plans to increase its technology spending, including $542 million next year alone that will primarily pay for wiring and other behind-the-wall upgrades to city schools.
The surge is part of an effort to move toward more online learning and computer-based standardized tests. But it comes just two years after the city declared a victory on the technology front, saying that every classroom in every school had had plug-in Internet connections and wireless access set up, an undertaking that cost roughly half a billion dollars over several years.
Some local officials are questioning the timing, since the city is also planning to cut $1.3 billion from its budget for new school construction over the next three years, and to eliminate 6,100 teaching positions, including 4,600 by layoffs.
While state law prevents capital funding, the source of much of the technology spending, from being used for salaries, both moves are likely to make class sizes rise.
It's interesting because if you go back (and I'll try to this week), there has been a lot of spending in our district over the last 10 years on technology. This drive for more and more, I believe, is over MAP testing and any further kind of standardized testing that could be given on a computer.
So what's the driver in NYC? Ah, the ability for more students to be able to self-teach with the teacher as overseer.
Instead of a lonely desktop or two at the back of a room, officials picture entire classrooms of students going online simultaneously, taking Internet-based classes or assessments to measure both their and their teachers’ performance. This school year alone, the city has issued $50 million in contracts to build an online course-management system, called iLearn NYC, as well as to provide training and to pay companies like Rosetta Stone and Pearson Education to provide content.
The front line is called the Innovation Zone, or iZone, a group of 80 schools (out of the roughly 1,700 in the city) that are testing more intensive ways to use computers, like by having them design individualized lessons based on each student’s progress and weaknesses. Teachers would still be needed as guides, but the goal would be to try to solve the age-old problem of how to teach a group of students with a wide range of abilities. The plan is to expand the zone to 125 schools next year, and 400 schools by the end of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s third term.
The cry is that "our kids need to learn to use technology" but is that what it really is? Or a future way to cut costs ( fewer teachers, bigger classes and you probably could use all TFA recruits if all you do is oversee a lesson).
One big issue is whether you could ever have enough bandwidth capacity if you had, say, a school of 650 students where every single class was on-line at the same time? That's a lot to ask but if the direction that education is going is more and more computer teaching and assessments, then that's where the capital money will go.
But some teachers are still doing report cards by hand.