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The Digital Bridge

Divides occur all around us, but don't constrain access in the name of equality

Some families with school-age children have computers and Internet connections. Some don't. We call that the digital divide, and it gets an awful lot of attention.

ENRON and Education

Why are education experts being tossed aside in favor of politicians and business officials?

When I grow up I want to be ... politically connected. This is the lesson taught across America as politicians dismantle local school boards, fire superintendents and replace them with men lacking any expertise in the complex issues facing the public schools.

Generals, border czars, basketball players and prosecutors must be more qualified to lead schools than those pesky educators. Right?

I'm taking time out to reflect, and I invite you to do the same. No doubt you can remember where you were the morning of September 11. I was in Washington D.C., in my hotel room catching up on e-mail. It was the last day of a conference for education technology executives, and I was anxious to wrap things up and get to the airport for my late morning flight.

Then everything changed. My cell phone rang and my brother-in-law said something about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. I pictured a small private plane with engine trouble-an unavoidable accident.


Lessons learned, and unlearned, while trying to stay in tune

I used to tell folks that the reason I sent my kids to school was band. We didn't have a band at home, and the experience of creating something beautiful within a group of other musicians appealed to my aesthetic sense and democratic ideals. Heck, being in the band even raises test scores. School music kept me sane throughout my public school years and enriched my life more than nearly any other experience.

Do you remember what it was like to be a teacher reporting back to work? First, you received the principal's "dreaded letter" in late July, indicating fall was near and that great plans were in place for another exciting school year. After recovering from the shock, you resurrected the old lesson plan book and started thinking about the new year.

It seemed funny at the time. I was in junior high school, seventh-grade Spanish class, to be exact. It was raining outside, so I brought my squirt gun to class. I held it in my lap, hidden from the teacher's view, and strategically squirted the ceiling when she wasn't looking.

Wireless LANs

Access is just about everything in school. When suburban Kennett Consolidated School district in Pennsylvania went wireless two years ago, it opened worlds to students that would not normally be available.