How much money is spent to control or eliminate societal problems? Critical issues such as drugs, gangs, pregnancy, alcoholism, and physical and sexual abuse confront our children on a daily basis. Many programs that have been created with noble intentions, but often fall short because they do not significantly address core issues.
If a student’s world includes these critical issues, how can we help that child see the larger picture? How can they break this vicious cycle? How do we help these children? We understand that we must encourage children to take control of education opportunities. We must also offer parents the ability to take advantage of various options. Policymakers seem very determined that high standards, assessment and accountability are here to stay.
Technology is now being used to level the playing field, thus expanding a student’s ability to control their education is growing. Through virtual classrooms, whiteboard classrooms, information literacy of Internet accessibility, and the host of other technology peripherals teachers are inundated with new and potentially useful tools while students are given control and allowed to break down barriers that would otherwise disseminate their goals and dreams. Students with disabilities can overcome issues of physical challenges, visual impairments, hearing impairments, behavioral disorders, and learning disabilities. Technology has the ability to create equity in education across many communities.
In addition, removing social barriers and anxieties allows students to explore their intellectual passions. Students now have the flexibility to learn any time, any place, and at any rate of speed. If students set and achieve goals, we must teach them to apply those principles in the classroom, students will discover they play a significant role in determining their own education future, this brings dignity and self-respect to the child. This can be accomplished with minimal technology, excellent communication delivered at a reasonable cost. It is imperative that the technology debate does not get unduly politicized, as we are aware that too often politics intersect with public policy.
As a basic computer technology instructor I have observed the capabilities of students to overcome personal barriers, behavioral issues, learning disabilities, and develop excitement for learning. It is an observable fact that inspired children can accomplish great educational feats. Nevertheless, the lack of instructor training, especially in the integration of technology into the classroom, is so inadequate that most students are labeled and passed over as another hopeless cause.
A key to classroom integration is the unlimited use of technology, which comes down to the instructor and student. Therefore, we must educate the educator. According to a study performed by the U. S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 79 percent of instructors reported a small to great barrier for the lack of support in regards to integrating technology into curriculum available and a lack of availability of professional development training. Only 38 percent of the nation’s instructors received more than eight hours of professional development on the integration of educational technology in the grade or subject taught. Instructors who are given the ability can assist students to incorporate thinking skills into subjects that are integrated with technology.
The No Child Left Behind Act championed by President Bush and enacted in 2001, has witnessed increased federal education funding. Since 2000 federal spending has increased 59.8 percent. Through NCLB, funding is available to strengthen teacher quality by investing in training and retention of high-quality teachers.
However, many experts including J. C. Bowman from the Center for Education Innovation at Florida State University, warn that locating highly qualified teachers in the middle school setting could be a problem that many states will need to address. “It will be critical to identify and retain these professionals in order to achieve student academic success. The American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence will take on added significance as states grapple the alternative pathway to teacher certification” according to Bowman. In addition, empowering schools and districts with the ability to spend their federal education dollars where they believe it will be most beneficial is a concept education leaders must sell to policymakers.
Education leaders must continue to strive to remove any obstacles that limit our children from succeeding. It is time to empower students with every opportunity available to succeed to leave no child behind as post secondary education becomes a necessity. Teaching students how to set and achieve realistic goals will make a significant, long-term difference in a student’s performance in the classroom, in the workplace, and in life. The future of our nation to reach world-class status in education for our children is important not only for them, but also for America in the growing global economy.
”’Pamela Jones is a research fellow with the Center for Education Innovation at Florida State University. She lives in Harrisburg, Illinois. The CEI Web site is:”’ http://cei.coe.fsu.edu
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