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Alliance President Responds to New York Times

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December 14, 2011 08:13 pm


In a recent article, the New York Times highlights the failures of low-quality online learning programs. The writer’s key points include for-profit providers using marketing and advertising to get larger market shares of students contrasted with the substandard conditions of these programs such as high student-to-teacher ratios, unprepared teachers, and inadequate personalization. The results of these programs are often poorer outcomes in achievement and graduation than traditional public schools. This happens even as programs are conducting aggressive and successful lobbying campaigns to increase their footprint in education. Alliance for Excellent Education President Bob Wise offers his thoughts on the article as well as larger criticism toward the use of digital technology in the classroom.

Utilizing technology in the classroom continues to be a growing concept and with that comes new criticisms, skeptics, and proponents. The issue for the Alliance for Excellent Education is constantly showing what quality application of technology looks like. The question that the New York Times and The Nation seem to want to raise is whether technology and the private sector should be in the classroom. That really is a false and unrelated issue for most schools. Technology will be there; the issue is whether it will be effective and truly boost student outcomes.

Concerning the private sector, from the time the first McGuffy reader was sold in 1836, the private sector has been an integral part of the K12 education process. Literally, from sunrise when the school bus made by the Bluebird Company picks up its rural students to take them to the hot breakfast program often cooked by private concessionaires, to the student cracking a newly published textbook in the first class, to the teachers attending a presentation on contracting with professional development instructors, the private sector is and has always been involved. This is no different. Once again, the issue is making sure in each case both the technology and the private sector are truly making a positive difference in student outcomes.

I am one of the few who actually welcomes this round of media controversy since we have the chance to respond aggressively and shape a very important debate. The learning opportunities for too many children are at stake. For those who have not seen one of my recent power points, especially when I talk about the teaching, technology, and time policy (three Ts of technology), I encourage you to review.

Finally, I would recommend viewing the webinar that the Alliance conducted on December 9th, which is extremely informative, especially given the contributions of those working everyday in schools and districts to implement effective application of technology. I look forward to talking more about how to answer the questions—some legitimate and others Luddite—being raised in recent media articles.

To learn more about the advantages of digital learning, click here.


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