|As part of his winning campaign platform, our newly reelected
President plans to connect all schools to the Internet by the year 2000. Yay! Three cheers
Wait a moment. Are we ready? I dont
mean are we technologically ready. But arent we required to achieve Maslows
hierarchy of public school needs first? Shouldnt we be concerned with issues like
plumbing, less crowded classrooms, better teacher pay, and more schools? Dont be
silly, of course not. Unlike us ignorant voters, our President realizes that the Internet
has the power to heal the many ills of our current public educational system. Think of it
as "trickle down technology." For example, by surfing the web, students can
discover the underpinning subjects that dominate school bureaucracy-asbestos, school
repair, and the disparity of wages. How else do you expect them to learn-from a teacher, a
book? Come on. And besides "every school on the Internet by the year 2000" makes
a better sound bite than "every school gets textbooks published after the year
Our President, the man who rarely answers his own email,
understands that the Internet in the classroom "would lead to an explosion in
learning." That explains why teachers are so underpaid. Their students are only
"bursting at the seams" when they should be "exploding."
Its time we get the computers out of the computer lab
and into the classroom. We need more distractions for our teachers. Theyve
had it easy for long enough. And hey, why stop with computers? Lets put more random
stuff in the classroom. Give those teachers a real challenge. Take those basketballs out
of the gymnasium, the card catalog out of the library, and the mystery meat out of the
Computers in the classroom sounds great, but can we pay for
it? We all know school finances are bad. No need to bore you with an array of endless
statistics about the depressed state of education. Mostly because I dont know any.
But thats never stopped anybody from lying, now has it?
Time to play "Fill in the Bad School Statistics":
- ___% of our schools are in dire need of improved plumbing.
- Teachers pay is 1/___th of supermodel Claudia
- And only 1 in ____ classrooms have a globe so that 1 in ____
students can incorrectly identify the location of the United States.
As you can plainly see, any way you slice it up, it comes
up peanuts. Though not to worry, our Presidents got one of those new financial
calculators that can determine how a school in Detroit thats rationing toilet paper
can afford a T1 line.
The President has already budgeted $2.3 billion a year to
link schools and libraries to the Internet. Critics note that "connecting"
schools is only one-fifth the cost. There are other uncounted expenses like computers,
software, training, upgrading, and maintenance. Again, not a problem, because our
President has come up with an ingenious solution: get the computer and telecommunications
industries to pay for everything. What a great idea. Why should we stop there? Lets
ask other companies to subsidize public school spending. We can start by demanding that
mean old Mr. Whipple cough up a few rolls of Charmin for the kids in Detroit.
Though unlike other school courses, computer education
cant depend on 50 year old textbooks. Teachers have to rely on learning the Internet
at weekend EST seminars(Repeat after me, "I feel good about myself using the web. I
dont have to feel stupid in front of my students."). Switch over to this method
of training and fourth graders will soon be learning Tony Robbins "Awake the
Giant Within You."
Computer knowledge is important for the working world.
True, but when did job applicability become a criteria for K-12 education? Last year, Bill
Clinton said, "Preparing our children for a lifetime of computer use is now just as
essential as teaching them to read and write." Really? I find that odd. I studied
computers in grade school, yet I still cant find a single company thats
looking to hire someone with TRS-80 experience.
Its admirable that our President wants the
nations children to be computer and Internet knowledgeable. But to keep up with
quickly evolving technology, schools will be forced to upgrade their $3,000 computers
every three years. Id advise you not to worry. Im sure our President will
figure out some way to absorb the costs even when most states are having difficulty
updating $20 textbooks every 30 years.
© 1997, David Spark