At what point do we as educational leaders begin to take technology as seriously as the other components of our school infrastructure?
Wince every time you hear of untrained custodians, or well-meaning students wiring buildings on the cheap. Would a Superintendent of schools or Board of Education ever allow students and community volunteers to install the heating system of the school? How about the electrical system? Alarms and security?
Keep your eyes closed tight if you know of schools that have substantial numbers of six or seven year old computers running Windows 95 or Windows 98.
Cringe when you hear of corporations dumping old and obsolete computers on schools; computers that will cost the school more in maintenance than if the school had bought a new machine. Many high schools resemble technological archeological sites…if you dig deep enough you are bound to find every model of computer since the Apple IIE.
Shake your head when you see a school district with more than 100 infrastructure support people: custodians, drivers, electricians, carpenters, plumbers, etc.; and (4) network technicians to maintain thousands of computers in sixteen buildings.
Pray when you hear of a school district that has no security budget, hasn’t audited its greatest vulnerabilities, has not updated the anti-spyware on its workstations, has not had time to apply the latest anti-virus signatures, or the latest Microsoft patches.
Pray harder if they aren’t taking daily, rotating backups (even in the summer when some staff are on vacation) and keeping them offsite; and if they haven’t a plan on how or where to restore them in case of a flood, fire, catastrophic hardware failure, or Katrina-like disaster.
It’s time to stop wincing, cringing, praying, and closing our eyes to the sorry state of much of the educational technology in this country. It’s time to put technology on the same footing as the rest of the school infrastructure. Technology should be current, ubiquitous, and well maintained.
Of course this will take money; and leadership. Where we spend our money is merely a reflection of what we value. I know we value our children. At the very least our job as leaders is to insure that the 21st Century classroom in America is competitive with the 21st century living rooms of our students.
At best, we could rethink our school structures and embark on an Extreme Makeover: School Edition.