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From DA

Whether you have faith in standardized testing or hope the pendulum swings the other way real soon, you have to admit that there's power in data. The question is how that data is understood and used.

In September, every seventh grader in Maine-and their teachers-will be given their own iBook and free 24/7 Internet access. The following year, every eighth grader will get an iBook. Two years ago, Maine Gov. Angus King caused an eruption of debate when he proposed this laptop plan. At the time there was little if any legislative support. Today, it's the law of the land. King hopes this initiative will serve as a catalyst for reinventing public education and as a means for maintaining his state's quality of life.

If the only knowledge school administrators have of our laptop program in Henrico (Va.) Public Schools is through the media, they might think that giving laptops to students isn't worth the effort. News coverage correctly reported that a small number of students downloaded material they shouldn't have after we gave every high school student an iBook at the beginning of the 2001-02 school year.

Two years ago, when times were flush for both school districts and the companies that sell them technology products, the big question was: When will all the technological wonders being created actually show up in classrooms?

Digital Divide: A Pass? Notion?

Most of the recent political talk about inequities in education has focused on the gap between high achieving schools and those that fail to meet education standards. What happened to the government's concern about the digital divide?

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.

READING: It's a Destination

Riverdeep-The Learning Company, www.riverdeep.net, Software, $20,000 (20 licenses per site)-$40,000 (unlimited licenses)

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.

Marion Canedo is on the line, wanting to explain her school district's budget cuts, and she will, as soon as she answers the other phone that's ringing in her office. It's an accountant, calling to get figures for that night's school board presentation.

Special education needs are important to every district. This leader knows about these needs first hand and cherishes the chance to achieve fairness for all children

The hardware's faster, the software's better, the Internet's more in tune with education, and there's still nothing better than a good book. Welcome to the best products of the year.

When President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, he committed millions of federal funds to support wise use of technology in our nation's K-12 schools. The money comes with a few strings, of course. But more districts than ever can expect to receive grant funds for technology under the flexibility provided by NCLB.

This is good news because schools continue to buy computers, peripherals and a variety of related hardware at robust rates.

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