At the onset of our Wimba Classroom conversation, it was apparent that each member of the group had discussed the assignment ahead of time with members of their individual cohorts and had some really great ideas for focus. Ultimately, the group decided to focus on the issue of technological parity within school divisions, both rural and suburban. This is an exciting topic of which I have much interest. The other idea that I had was to discuss equity issues that arise as a result of mandated services and FAPE for students with special needs.
Throughout the discussion some themes became apparent.
Theme one: Funds are limited in general. For school divisions with aging campuses, infrastructure to support newer technologies is a great concern. –
Theme two: State mandates for standardized testing becomes an issue because technology oftentimes does not support the mandate. Because funds are limited, demands cannot be met. Demand creates a strain on staff and scheduling.
Theme three: The widening gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots.” Advocacy of parents and use of PTA funds to augment technology needs. Schools with stronger PTAs raise the funds necessary to purchase technology and then the poorer schools (without active PTAs) need more of the allocated funds from the VPSA funds. You wind up with schools where the socio-economic status of the student’s families really impacts the type of technology and the amount that is available for instruction – parity issues abound!
I believe the biggest issue underlying this problem is that school administration, educators, and politicians have not gotten creative with the way that allotted funds are appropriated to schools with high needs. Unfortunately, we are a part of a society that believes that equal means fair. Until we bring about a change to demonstrate that fair is when each school has the technology they need to successfully augment and make a positive impact on student achievement, we will continue to net the same abysmal results. Educators can be proactive and collect meaningful data to show the impacts of technological inequity on computerized standardized tests.