Picture this. You’re in a classroom with 27 third graders using year old netbooks for the first time.
Running on these systems is Windows 7. While this is probably the best version of Windows Microsoft has ever produced, it’s still Windows running on cheap Dell hardware that’s a year old. The system has problems starting up and shutting down. If you close the lid, sometimes the netbook goes to sleep. Sometimes it crashes. If you fail to shut it down appropriately, Windows, in Bill Gates’ infinite wisdom, pops up the extremely unhelpful– at least to an eight year old– “Windows Error Recovery” screen.
This screen has four options:
Safe Mode with Networking
Safe Mode with Command Prompt
Start Windows Normally
If you’re a bright 8 year old, which one will you choose? You could choose most any of them, couldn’t you? If only the mouse worked right.
While the superintendent is right about kids being natives in computer usage, their native language is GUI not TXT. They’re used to pointing and clicking, not using the arrow keys to move a highlighted bar up and down.
But these are the screens the you’re faced with. You’re eight, what do you do?
As with all school children, perhaps you raise your hand to ask for help from your teacher. Maybe your teacher can help fix this and make this digital initiative something that is actually inspirational.
But your teacher is trying desperately to get 26 other kids to log onto the system, too.
“Desperately” you ask? Indeed. “Desperately” because she’s been told that the district is closely monitoring every detail, every bit, of information coming out of her classroom. They’re monitoring the number of people connected to the network. They’re monitoring how long they’re connected. They’re monitoring what the students are doing while they’re connected.
And it’s completely clear that her job depends on the central office liking what they see. Suddenly, the superintendent’s dream of being able to make every classroom teacher do exactly the same thing at exactly the same time is within his grasp. Big Brother is watching and like a malevolent, digital Santa Claus, he knows if the computers are sleeping or awake. And a computer that isn’t booting properly suddenly takes the highest priority in the classroom.
It’s more important than math or reading. It’s more important than classroom management. It’s more important than education.
“Desperately” is an understatement at this point, isn’t it?
Her “ratings” will fall all because some child’s year-old, cheap hardware running software that’s known to crash didn’t start up right. Her job is on the line, by design of a poorly implemented “digital conversion” plan that even the Pearson people (well, outside of their sales department, anyway) don’t like.
And so the children sit confused, while the teacher, who was trained to excite young minds with the joys of learning, turns into a technician running from crisis to crisis just trying to get computers to boot.
This is the school system that Dr. Wardynski has created: a system where teaching is reduced to showing third graders how to get Windows to boot. I suppose I should have been happy with the system when it merely reduced teaching to test proctoring.
And for some insane reason some in Rocket City, which once could claim to be the most creative city in the nation, cheered.
If you’re not happy with the direction the system is heading, today’s your chance to begin to make a difference. If you are happy with the direction the system is heading, today’s your chance to help it along.
Please, take a few minutes today between 7am and 7pm to go vote.
If you live in District 1 or District 5, you have the opportunity to change the makeup of the School Board.
If you live anywhere in Huntsville, you have the opportunity to help schools for another thirty years by supporting the 6.5 mil ad valorem tax renewal.
Yes, despite my opposition to Dr. Wardynski’s “leadership” of our district, I support this renewal for one simple reason: Not renewing this funding source for our schools will destroy our school system once and for all.
I’m completely convinced that Dr. Wardynski would be happy either way. You see, The Broad Foundation specifically seeks out districts that are in financial distress for their minions to operate in. People who are desperate are easier to control. If the renewal passes, Dr. Wardynski will continue business as usual.
If the ballot question fails, however, he’ll get to fire a bunch of teachers and continue his plan to remake our district in the Broad image.
It will be a nightmare if the tax renewal fails.
Please, take a few minutes today, and go vote.