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Friday, June 29, 2007

So Far to Go: A Local School Board Candidate Armed with Mis-Information

I live in central Pennsylvania so I guess this is to be expected but...please.

Our school board was approving its budget for the next year and there was a line item of $327,000 for the purchasing of nine mobile laptop labs each having close to 30 computers. The district officials said:
...the investment is justified as more class materials are becoming available on computer software and more students can access laptops at one time, rather than sending classes to desktop computer labs with limited number of seats
So far, bravo to the administration.

Enter Dawn Koons-Gill, a district parent and school board candidate..."When I noticed the $327,000 budgeted for laptops, I saw a streak of red...[laptops will] loose effectiveness as the novelty wares me the student achievement, and I'd be ecstatic. It's just not proven yet."

Laptops...a novelty? No evidence what so ever? Dawn, prepare to become estatic...

Dawn's web page sites two articles on the topic, one from AUGUST 31, 2006: from THE WALL STREET JOURNAL called Saying No to School Laptops and one from MAY 4, 2007 in the NEW YORK TIMES "Seeing No Progress, Some Schools Drop Laptops."

The WSJ article does not site peer reviewed research, instead it is a bunch of opinions of parents worried about inappropriate surfing...dah (And by the way, dreadfully awful reporting by the wonder print journalism is in such bad straights...I mean irresponsible reporting like this, the WSJ should hide its head in shame.)

The article itself even states "Anne Carson, a 49-year-old parent in Glen Allen, Va., says the laptop has helped her twelve-year-old son master critical professional skills like how to compile a PowerPoint presentation." What are we preparing our kids take achievement tests while at work...?

Dawn needs to do more research...she needs to look at all the evidence that laptops are good...the other side of the story.

Here are some posts to rebut Dawn's statement, "It's just not proven yet."

Here is an article that says laptops help students. (Full Disclosure: consider the source for this article...but it does claim an independent research project) Research Finds Laptop Learning Yields Better Students and Better Teachers Through Anytime, Anywhere Access
Students who use laptops are more involved in their schoolwork. Students who use laptops explore topics on their own (80 percent of laptop students vs. 46 percent of non-laptop students), review and revise their work more often than students who do not use laptops, and work on long projects (80 percent of laptop students compared to 38 percent of non-laptop students).

Here is another article Impact and Results. (Full Disclosure: Apple sponsored)
Eastern Townships School Board revealed exciting results from studies on the impact of their 1 to 1 laptop initiative. After using Apple laptops for only one year, the number of third- and fourth-grade students who are reading at-level and above increased by 12 percent, while the number of those experiencing difficulty in reading plummeted by 13 percent. There was also a 100 percent success rate on the written component of the Response to Literature rubric, which tests the ability to read and understand text materials. The district also saw a 26 percent decrease in absenteeism.— Eastern Townships School Board, Magog, Quebec, December 2005

Here is another article about the positive impact of laptops...(not sponsored by a computer company)Learning With Laptops: An Urban School Shows Gains and a quote.
Not everyone thinks of Internet research as a third-grade skill. It is at East Rock Magnet School in New Haven, Connecticut, however. There, third and fourth graders are assigned laptops, and not only have test scores increased, but student motivation as well.

Here is another article...based on research States: Ed tech is raising student achievement
In Texas, a program that gave laptop computers to students and teachers in some middle schools has been shown to improve school communications, reduce discipline referrals, and level the playing field for students from low-income families. At least one of the participating schools has gone from being a "low-performing campus" to meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), and parents and staff attribute these gains to the laptop project

Here is a great article that you should read on the topic called Loving the laptops
While some school districts in other parts of the country are scrapping laptop programs, citing high costs and few tangible benefits, Mainers remain high on the machines. A soon-to-be completed study at the University of Southern Maine will give laptop advocates some scientific evidence to back up their claims that the devices can bolster learning...

Districts adopting laptop programs outnumber the districts that have shelved them, said Matt Hoover, program manager for the Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation, a nonprofit group that advocates for laptop learning in Bellevue, Wash. He estimates that a half-million laptops are being used in one-on-one programs around the world.
Maybe instead of throwing out laptops in schools we should try to make them work as author Pamela Livingston advocates in her book 1-to-1 Learning: Laptop Programs that Work.

Did I mention Dawn Koons-Gill is running for SCHOOL BOARD...

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bschlenker said...

Yea, we've got a bunch of those at my kids school as well. They run around the school mouthing off about crap they know NOTHING about...other than what they read in a newspaper or heard on TV...barf!!!
Ask her if the desks are ergonomically correct for each child's unique physique. It's hilarious to hear the responses. Also be sure to tell her that Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Fin are still in the library collection...

Karl Kapp said...

Right, too bad these people seem to be very vocal...maybe the less you know the more you need to be loud...who knows...or maybe just politics for one's own agenda.