Idaho teachers fight tech mandate

Idaho Teachers Fight a Reliance on Computers, reports the New York Times, which has become consistently hostile to school technology.

Last year, the state legislature overwhelmingly passed a law that requires all high school students to take some online classes to graduate, and that the students and their teachers be given laptops or tablets. The idea was to establish Idaho’s schools as a high-tech vanguard.

To help pay for these programs, the state may have to shift tens of millions of dollars away from salaries for teachers and administrators. And the plan envisions a fundamental change in the role of teachers, making them less a lecturer at the front of the room and more of a guide helping students through lessons delivered on computers.

Ah, yes, the “guide on the side” versus the “sage on the stage.” This is not new.

Idaho teachers want more input on the use of technology, especially if it means changing the way they teach. And they fear — for good reason — they won’t get training or tech support with the new computers.

Furthermore, the plan assumes students taking online courses won’t need a teacher in the room. “Blended learning” schools typically hire aides, at much lower pay, to supervise students working on computers.


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2 responses to “Idaho teachers fight tech mandate”

  1. As ever: federalism (local control) and competitive markets in goods and services institutionalize humility on the part of State (government, generally) actors. If a policy dispute turns on a matter of taste, numerous local policy regimes and competitive markets in goods and services allow for the expression of varied tastes, while the contest for control over a State-monopoly providers must create unhappy losers (who may constitute the vast majority; imagine the outcome of a nationwide vote on the one size of shoes we all must wear). If a policy dispute turns on a matter of fact, where “What works?” is an empirical question, numerous local policy regimes and competitive markets will generate more information than will a State-monopoly enterprise. A State-monopoly school system is like an experiment with one treatment and no controls: a retarded experimental design.

  2. Just follow the money. Whoever is creating the online learning courses must have given big bucks to the state politicians.