Thursday, March 12, 2009

The long arm of the school

ARRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHH!!!

The ignorance and fear and, perhaps, paranoia of some districts STILL makes me crazy. Today, for example, we heard of one school who told their teachers that they were not to access Ning sites using their school laptops - not even from home! AAAARRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!

So, their staff can't participate in the classroom 2.0 ning, for example. This is a professional ning which, at the time of this writing, has 19,768 members (educators) from around the world. It's a place where they could make the global connections for their classes. (It's where I would have gone had my six degrees test failed.) It's a place where they could ENJOY learning from others, receiving professional development for FREE! Where they could be learning about teaching strategies, web tools, software, cool videos to see, and SO much more. Nor could they be a part of the MoodleMeet ning, or any of the MANY nings intended for professionals.

Where does this kind of fear come from? And more importantly, perhaps, what has to happen in this country to shake us up enough - to WAKE US UP! - to the point that we are ALL DEMANDING a world class education for our kids? Anything less is criminal. If we told people that there was a terrorist plot to deprive our kids of the BEST possible education that our tax dollars can buy, there would (I HOPE!) be such an outcry as to wake up even the legislators. But, this travesty is NOT being perpetrated by terrorists. It's being done by our own hands. And it's all due to ignorance and fear. IMHO.

OH.. and get THIS... Another teacher told me that his new Tech Director informed him that he would be REMOVING GOOGLE EARTH from the computers in the elementary buildings because, "They have no educational value." ARRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

STOP THE MADNESS! I DEMAND A WORLD CLASS EDUCATION FOR MY KIDS!!! Say it with me, now. "I DEMAND A WORLD CLASS EDUCATION FOR MY KIDS!" Again. (LOUDER!) "I DEMAND A WORLD CLASS EDUCATION FOR MY KIDS!"

"I DEMAND A WORLD CLASS EDUCATION FOR MY KIDS!"

"I DEMAND A WORLD CLASS EDUCATION FOR MY KIDS!"

"I DEMAND A WORLD CLASS EDUCATION FOR MY KIDS!"

P.S.
Thanks a LOT, Aly and Robin. Now I'm hoarse from screaming. Again. :-)

8 comments:

Andrew Neely said...

Unfortunately the story is not an isolated one. I'm wondering if a Google Docs database of all CFF schools' Internet filtering is in order. The database could include major networking and web 2.0 sites and coaches could indicate if the site is blocked or not at their respective schools. We could have two databases, one for students and one for staff. This could be an eye opener for some school and network administrators.

tyost said...

Jim,

I do want a world class education for my kids. And I may be one of the lucky ones whose school allows everything you have your "moments" about.

I also want educators committed to lifelong learning. We put GE on every PC in the district, yet I don't know of anyone using it to enhance instruction. Until teachers and administrators open there eyes to true meaningful professional development, and make time for it, whether it be common in-service time, after school, weekends, whatever change cannot happen. I am not convinced it is a technology issue but a curricular staff issue we need to address.

In my part of the state of PA, weekend PD is a scarce occurrence, and when it does it usually is connected to CPE or Grad credit. Summer workshops are like ghost towns that mirror most parent teacher conferences; the ones you need don't come. I have a dear friend who is at wit's end over her union stopping every attempt made to educate make teacher aware of technologies that they could use. Professional teachers need to stand up and act the part.

Technology shifts the classroom in amazing ways, yet many teachers are still finding ways to keep the door shut. If they were better informed and trained the needs and wants would be curricular requirements, not luxuries held hostage by the tech director.

Heather said...

Ty,
I could not agree with you more. Your comment "Until teachers and administrators open there eyes to true meaningful professional development, and make time for it" hits it right on the head. Maybe teachers would use these tools more in their classroom if they really knew and understood how to utilize them.

Summer and after school workshops are not highly attended. If they are, they must be connected with grad credit or money to encourage some teachers to attend.

The setup most schools have now for professional development is poorly planned. I was a staff developer for an IU and can speak first hand about this. Teachers are not provided with choices about district professional developments. It is usually something like "Ok, we have an in-service day coming up. What quick fix session can we use to fill up the space." Learning about Differentiated Instruction in 2 hrs with no other follow-up will not help. Professional development is often seen as a band-aid or something to check off the list to say that the school does it.

I wonder how we can change the role of professional development to not be seen as something extra teachers have to do. Some schools do have productive professional development programs. We know the importance of effective PD. It needs to go to higher levels of its value and how to effectively plan.

Ms McGaw said...

I WANT A WORLD CLASS EDUCATION FOR MY KID! And I want it in first grade! I want him to use podcasting,and telecommunication tools. I want him to collaborate with his classmates on projects in an online environment. I want him to use interactive whiteboards and digital cameras and laptops. I WANT HIM TO HAVE SCIENCE EVERYDAY! I want him to investigate his world, both locally and globally. I am so happy that he is learning to read and write but I want him to be able to expand his thinking and share his results with the world. Thanks Jim... I want it too!!

Karen Janowski said...

I wonder what happens if the teachers do access Nings at home. Do the school police break down their doors?
This is beyond rationale - and there always has to be an educational rationale for everything we do. I hope the teachers, students and parents rebel against that policy.
It's time to reclaim education away from the IT departments that don't know anything about education.
Absolutely unbelievable.....and in a very destructive way.....

mrsdurff said...

Simple, the fed up parents will withdraw their children, no one will be left in the compulsory system, and it will collapse.
The implosion of 19th century education is the only way the kids will receive the world class education they deserve.
Kids go to school for 2 reasons:
1. Their friends are there.
2. We make them.
Take away these two reasons and there is no reason to go.

alytapp said...

Sorry to be one to trigger your scream, Jim, but the truth is that you have a strong and established readership. My lonely tweet would have withered and died, but your blog post truly gets the word out.

What amazes me is that far too many teachers simply give up. They assume that "it's just the way it is." Yes, they complain to each other about it, but ultimately, they do not push for change. Teachers need to remember that they are highly trained professionals who know a good instructional tool when they see one. Perhaps we have for too long assumed that if it's technical, it's IT's decision. It's not.

I would therefore amend your war cry:

"WE WANT A WORLD CLASS EDUCATION FOR OUR KIDS, AND WE ARE THE ONES WHO WILL DECIDE WHAT EDUCATIONAL TOOLS WE NEED."

Thankfully, my DoT solicits my input on software, websites, etc., and he recognizes that a good IT department listens to the teachers' needs and finds a way to safely meet them. Where a DoT can give a reasonable explanation for denial, he or she should also offer a comparable alternative. In districts where this is not the case, teachers have a moral responsibility to stand up and be counted. Too often, teachers are culpable due to their silence.

Miranda Clemson said...

As an IT person in a school, I find decisions like these to be very strange. And as for the Tech Director removing Google Earth because it "has no educational value", since when has the technology department become the arbiter of curriculum?

As a school network administrator, part of my job is to facilitate any technology the teachers want or need unless it poses a clear risk to our network. Period.