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April Letters

What our reader's are saying.

Phones Open Door for Possibility

In response to DA’s Tech Disruptions blog post of February 15, which criticizes Pennsylvania lawmakers’ proposed ban on cell phones in K12, a reader says:

Ever since the iPhone came out I have been very interested in the educational possibilities of such a device. Being able to have a scaled-down computer with the capabilities and portability of a mobile phone is opening a whole new world of possibilities in mobile learning. Having a mobile phone creates fertile ground for exploration and creation of educational applications. Without doubt, educational institutions need to be open-minded and start exploring all the possibilities and benefits that this kind of technology is bringing to the table.

Luis J. Hernandez, bilingual teacher, Garland (Texas) Independent School District

But Will Phones Revolutionize K12 Education?

I am becoming more concerned about the echo chamber in which the pundits of educational technology appear to be seated. In the Tech Disruptions column (“The Impending Mobile Mega-Disruption,” January 2009) the writers claim the potential of the ubiquitous penetration of personal cell phones will revolutionize educational technology.

I agree the big question is “What pedagogical value do mobile devices have?” They may have their place. However, the assertion that a “candy-bar sized gadget is ... on par with a desktop or laptop computer” cannot be true because their functionalities are by design not the same. These devices would highlight the distinction between the affluent and the not-affluent. Some students have iPhones and Blackberry Storms, while others use a cheaper version. Another issue with personal devices is that a teacher cannot know every nuance of every device. Each manufacturer has different functionality. The article also assumes that every student’s personal device would have unlimited connectivity for text, Web browsing, streaming video and other features. “Outsourcing wireless networking to a telecommunications company” might make “good economic sense” to administrators, but will it to the telecommunications company and its users? Can we force that additional burden on families?

Mike D. Skara, technology coordinator, Berkeley Heights (N.J.) Public Schools

Celebrating Acts of Kindness

The district profile (“Deep Is the Heart of Texas,” November 2008) is a very touching snapshot of a district that provides an excellent example for many other districts to learn from. With so many stories in the media focusing on what is wrong in schools, it was refreshing to read how the Rockwall (Texas) Independent School District is helping its students build character and spread kindness and caring. Thanks.

Robert D. Rettmann, Crisis Prevention Institute, Brookfield, Wis.

Clarifying Georgia’s Security

In the story on Georgia’s school security plan (“School Security Plans Skirt Law,” February 2009), I found that if you read the law, you would find that nowhere does it state that the school district must have approval from Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA). Only if the district is asking for funding does GEMA have to sign off. It does state the district must have a plan submitted and approved by the Local Emergency Management Agency.

James E. McCoy, superintendent, Commerce City (Ga.) Schools

Letters to the editor may be sent to, or mailed to Judy F. Hartnett, District Administration, 488 Main Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06851. Selections that are published may be edited for length and clarity, and become the property of District Administration.