Converge, September 1998, p. 43
An inner-city school principal in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, has transformed his school into a model institution that consistently ranks at the top in the state of New York. The secret? Some very simple, “low-tech” software that lets the principal keep a close eye on all the goings-on at his school.
The principal is Irwin Kurz, and one tool he uses to manage his school is a simple DOS-based database program called “Professional File.” With this one piece of software, Kurz can elegantly track the names, attendance records, academic performance, and other vital statistics of his 1,300 students. His data is so good that Kurz can pick out students by name in the hallways of his school and rattle off compliments or encouragements based on a student’s record.
While some technology experts would call Kurz’s use of older DOS software “backwards,” his results prove that having the latest and most expensive technology isn’t always the answer. Most often, Kurz says, it’s the level of dedication to technology and the intelligent way it’s used that matter most.
Kurz also employs some basic phone technology to help manage his school. An autodialer calls the homes of students who are tardy or absent, and answering machines take messages from teachers who will be out for the day to ensure efficient scheduling of substitutes.
In addition, Kurz’s school provides plenty of student access to computers in its classrooms, computer labs, and library.