Friday, April 13, 2007


I know a lot of my posts have been about education, but I feel that it is an important subject. The reason is, the quality of education in this country is something that affects every single person living in this country, even if they themselves aren't in school or don't have children in schools. The students in school today are the future doctors, inventors, lawyers, and yes even future Presidents. Every single person has a personal stake in the quality of education. The people in school right now are my future co-workers or employees. They are the people that are going to build my house, grow my food, and save my life. Just because people don't see how education impacts their lives doesn't mean that impact isn't there. We need to make people realize that improving education, improves their lives.

The cold hard truth is that right now in Michigan schools are endangered. Republicans won't let anything through the Senate that doesn't include massive cuts to much needed services and therefore are causing schools to gasp for air.

The sad part is that schools aren't going to get any help to improve themselves anytime soon. Schools have to try to tackle large issues on their own, all while giving students a quality education. If education is continually over looked, things will never get better in Michigan. You think it's bad now, keep cutting spending for education and see how bad things get.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Technology in Schools

So the iPod idea was a little blown out of proportion by the MSM (big surprise), but I hope that it opens a discussion of the role of technology in education, or really the lack thereof right now. As I've stated in my iPod post, industry is using technology for many different things, including using mp3 players as training tools, so if schools are supposed to ready students for the “real world” why isn't technology playing a larger role in education?

Even stocking shelves at the local supermarket requires you to scan bar codes and it is only going to get more technology dependent. If you walk into many class rooms around the country though you'll be lucky to find one computer in a class room of thirty. Right now if you enter the workforce and you don't know Ctrl+Alt+Delete you are screwed. Technology is supposed to be the future of Michigan's economy, and if that is true why aren't we preparing our students for that?

Education has a lot of problems, and it seems clear that it requires new ways of thinking in order to truly improve education.

Monday, April 09, 2007

iPods & Schools

The iPod idea is already starting to make some waves, but this idea though isn't one that should be discarded right away however. Let's not forget where the idea came from, Duke University (and I'm sure there were others but I not sure who they were) began giving iPods to every incoming freshmen.

Right now I am helping a company develop a new training system to get it's new employees up to speed faster and more efficiently. Right now this company gives an mp3 player to all of the new associates for the first few months to help train them, along with what are basically podcasts on their private website that also contain training material in both audio and video formats. These combined resources have helped this expanding company train people quicker, cheaper, better, and the associates come away with a better understanding of the material.

Of course the success of something like this would all depend on how it is implemented. If used correctly it could indeed be a powerful tool to help educate students. The hardest part would be training educators on how to best use the technology and developing lessons to be used on the iPods.

Both MIT and Stanford have their own Podcast on iTunes that contain prominent lectures from some of their classes. Other universities have entire recording available for free download on their websites.

If you buy into the idea that this could have a potential pay-off to our educational system, the question becomes is now the right time to invest in this? The idea arose in a discussion over how to fix the states budget problems, and therefore was immediately under attack since it meant making an investment rather than making a cut. The implementation of this idea of course will not yield results for sometime, and the short term impact to the budget will be the cost of implementing the program. There is no doubt that a program such as this would be a hard sell the the general public. How does one justify the cost of giving students a high tech device that little in the public will see the educational value of during such hard economic times?

I have long thought that education has always been a little behind the times. Schools have always been on the back end of adopting technology, and it would be nice to see schools embrace technology for once; not to mention adopting to the way students intake information now days. It truly is time to schools to evolve beyond text books and chalk boards. I would like to see more computers and technology in the classroom (many classrooms only have one computer in them).

I'm not sure if this is the right idea right now but I'm certainly not opposed to it, nor do I think it is a silly idea. I am actually very encouraged by this idea! This shows that the Democrats are willing to think out side the box, are willing to make long term investments rather than the quick fixes proposed by the Republicans, and that they realize it takes more than mandating higher tests scores to fix education. It's important to remember that without long term investment, any budget “fix” will be only short term.

Quick idea, maybe the idea would be received better if iPods were switched to PDAs. Most PDAs can do just about everything an iPod can (short of sycning with iTunes).

As far as the Detroit News Editoral goes, This is all you need to remember from it:
Democrats are either entirely indifferent to the idea that extreme hard times demand extreme belt tightening, or they are bone stupid. We lean toward the latter.
Stop the stupidity. Michigan can't tax or spend its way out of this economic catastrophe.

Ah, yes. Gotta love that liberal media.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The War On Education Vol 2

The war on education wages on. Everybody and their brother knows about Michigan's budget problems by now, and most people realize what is at stake. Schools have kept an keen eye on this issue, while all along assuming the worst. Yes most schools are pretty pessimistic right now, most are looking for ways to stretch this year's budget, and cut next year's. Some schools have already started handing out pink slips, others are talking about cutting back busing routes or eliminating busing altogether. A lot of schools have gone to pay-to-play sports, and the ones that haven't yet are fighting not to have to. Times are tough for schools right now, and all indications are that it's going to get worst before it gets better.

To a certain extent, I get it. Public schools are easy targets. For one thing they are public, they don't operate behind close doors; when public schools have the slightest mishap the whole community knows about it. All you have to do is look at this teacher not wearing his name tag in Clinton to see this principle at work. This was all over the area papers for weeks, with more than half of the articles making the school district out to be a boogie man (that was a large reason I sided with the school over the teacher was the way he handled the situation and dragged the school down in the process). Every one has had a bad teacher, or a teacher they didn't like and it's always those teacher the stick out in people's minds once they are out of school for a few years. And of course, there is the crowd that thinks that any one can be a teacher (oddly enough it is usually that same crowd that thinks that most teacher's aren't any good). Which brings us the the group that views schools as free daycare.

These views stem largely from the fact that most people have no idea what it takes to run a school, have no idea what goes into being a good teacher, and don't realize the potential pay off of giving students a quality education to the general public. Most people have no idea how much it actaully costs to run a school. The truth is that the public and politicians need to be educated about education. Students don't have lobbyist.

Politicians will always talk about making education better, but their idea of making education better is mandating more tests, and if you'er a Republican, cutting school funding, taking money away from public schools and giving it to private schools in the form of a voucher, and creating a nation wide program that your brother Neil will make huge profits from. Sigh