“Title2.org” tracks the quality of the nation’s teacher preparation

Education degrees are not immediate indicators of good, high-quality teachers. That’s why this new site from the United States Department of Education supplies data and information concerning the quality of teacher preparation from among all 50 states and outlying territories, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. According to U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, “The reports contain a host of useful information about teacher quality and teacher education programs in the states-information essential for improving accountability and strengthening our teaching force.” Every state report available on the site includes information on efforts to improve teacher quality nationwide. Some of the more important features include data for each college and university with an education program; numbers of teachers employed without licenses or on waivers in state schools; statewide certification and licensure requirements; and steps taken by each state to improve the quality of teaching in schools. The department hopes these new online databases will help to encourage and enforce teacher quality at a time when top-notch educators are retiring at a rate faster than they can be replaced. “We need qualified teachers using best practices if we are to ensure that no child is left behind,” Paige said.

http://www.title2.org

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This super NOVA site is exploding with information

NOVA Online now offers teachers quick access to more than 500 of the popular science program’s educational resources in its expanded Teachers site, which includes a searchable database of program information, activities, and other classroom tools. The ever-growing collection includes detailed content summaries for most NOVA programs since 1993, along with information on which videos are for sale and how to purchase them. It also features more than 125 printable and 100 online activities with grade-level designations in anthropology, archaeology, chemistry, earth science, forensics, health science, life science, mathematics, paleontology, physical science, and space science. Teachers can use the site to access resources for cross-curricular connections in the areas of social studies, science and society, and technological design; gain ideas from other teachers on how they are using NOVA in the classroom; find links to available resources for each NOVA program by program title; join an eMail list to receive weekly updates on upcoming broadcasts and new web sites; learn about NOVA’s Featured Teachers and how to become one; peruse information about taping rights and suggestions for using videos in the classroom; and order NOVA’s printed teacher’s guide. In addition, the expanded Teachers site gives educators access to curricula from other science specials from the producers of NOVA, including, “A Science Odyssey,” “Building Big,” and the recently broadcast “Evolution” series.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/teachers/

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“Science Monthly” delves into topical subjects of interest

Recently, Learning Network and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) teamed up to publish a monthly electronic newsletter, called “Science Monthly,” aimed at providing science teachers with new and timely activities, lesson plans, and resources for use in the classroom. The newsletter, which is eMailed to subscribers at no cost, pulls information and activities from NSTA’s archives, as well as books published by the NSTA Press. Each month, the newsletter aims to cover a new and timely scientific theme. The initial issue covered animal adaptations to the changing of seasons. Other newsletter topics will include nutrition, classroom safety, careers in science, soil, Earth Day, summer solstice, and assessment. “Our goal is to put lesson plans in the hands of teachers at the time that will help them the most,” said Gerry Wheeler, executive director of NSTA. “Our editorial calendar was developed carefully to make the newsletter useful, relevant, and meaningful to what teachers are teaching and when they are teaching it.” Teachers can subscribe to this new resource from Learning Network’s TeacherVision web portal, which contains dozens of additional teaching resources-including six other eMail newsletters covering a variety of additional topics.

http://www.teachervision.com/tv/lounge/newsletter/science/index.html?s5

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“DemocracyNet” follows politicians’ campaign promises and voting records

For educators, encouraging youngsters to get involved in the nation’s political process can be a challenging task. DemocracyNet, furnished by the League of Women Voters, provides a place where students can go to learn more about the people who represent them in Washington, D.C. The latest, updated version of the site contains an archive that allows adult and student users alike to access statements and promises made by candidates during the campaign trail. Users can compare these original comments to the elected officials’ in-office performance records. For students, this site could be a powerful tool for gathering information for social studies projects pertaining to government. The site also offers up-to-date information on each state’s voting rules and regulations, allowing voters young and old to stay abreast of the latest legislative changes, age specifications, and brewing electoral controversies. A clickable map of the entire country allows for instant access to the candidates and voting information for each individual state.

http://www.dnet.org

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eSN Analysis: AOL, Microsoft legal wrangle could vex educators

When the elephants fight, it’s the grass that gets crushed. And technology leaders at the grass roots in education have reason to worry that this old African proverb just might apply to the legal battle now joined between technology pachyderms Microsoft and AOL Time Warner.

Media conglomerate AOL Time Warner Inc. has filed a lawsuit against the software giant seeking damages for harm done to AOL’s Netscape internet browser. The now flagging Netscape browser had ruled computer desktops until Microsoft began giving its competing browser away.

Analysts and legal experts agree this newest chapter in the ongoing antitrust saga against Microsoft is sure to prolong the court proceedings even further. Some fear the costly struggle will drain needed resources from technology research and development at both companies. Others say the fight is for ultimate control of the internet.

What is clear is that Microsoft now faces three distinct legal fronts in defending its business practices. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is considering a settlement to the original antitrust case that has the support of the federal government and nine state attorneys general, while nine other states are still suing Microsoft.

Many of Microsoft’s business practices, including ones in which the company encouraged computer manufacturers and internet providers to distribute its Internet Explorer web browser instead of Netscape, were found to be anticompetitive by a federal appeals court last year.

AOL, which bought Netscape in 1999, wants Microsoft to cease its contested business practices and pay damages. AOL Time Warner executive John Buckley noted that court ruling and said, “This action is an attempt to get justice in this matter.”

A Microsoft spokeswoman said the software giant is “disappointed” that AOL Time Warner has chosen litigation.

“We’ve consistently tried to work more closely with [AOL executives] in a variety of areas, including instant messaging,” the Microsoft representative said. “They have consistently turned us down.”

AOL Time Warner filed its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Jan. 22. Under federal law, AOL would be entitled to triple any actual damages found by the court.

The company also asked for an immediate injunction against “ongoing and further damage” involving the Netscape Navigator browser, Buckley said.

But Microsoft officials questioned AOL’s motives in filing the suit. “This lawsuit is not about consumers, this is about a company concerned about its business performance and attempting to use the courts rather than innovating in the marketplace,” said the Microsoft spokeswoman, who wished to remain anonymous.

One possible option, if a judge ruled in favor of AOL, would be to force Microsoft to sell a stripped-down version of its Windows operating system so computer manufacturers could choose which internet browser to offer. That has also been requested by the nine state attorneys general suing Microsoft in federal court.

The federal government and nine other states settled their landmark antitrust suit with Microsoft last year, but that settlement is still under consideration by Kollar-Kotelly. AOL has been a longtime critic of Microsoft and has talked frequently with prosecutors throughout the case.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, who heard the federal government’s case against Microsoft in the Netscape matter, found that Microsoft tried to keep consumers from being able to choose Netscape. The appeals court affirmed many of Jackson’s decisions.

Microsoft’s business practices “help keep usage of Navigator below the critical level necessary for Navigator or any other rival to pose a real threat to Microsoft’s monopoly,” the appeals court wrote last year.

Perhaps, but that isn’t the reason for AOL’s current lawsuit, Microsoft alleges.

“After hearing all the evidence in the antitrust trial, AOL purchased Netscape for $10 billion,” said the Microsoft spokeswoman. “Now, AOL wants to blame Microsoft for Netscape’s and AOL’s own mismanagement.”

At least a few analysts agree. AOL was more interested in Netscape’s media property, the Netscape.com web site that many users kept as their home pages, said Ken Allard, senior vice president of research at Jupiter Media Metrix.

Other Netscape initiatives, such as browser development, enterprise software, and services did not receive as much attention, Allard said. AOL also never integrated the Netscape browser into its proprietary online service, instead relying on a version of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

In a viewpoint posted on the ZDNet web site Jan. 25, market research firm Gartner Inc. said the real battle between AOL and Microsoft is over control of content.

“Both the online content provider and the software developer are determined to be the trusted party that internet users rely on to store all kinds of information—such as addresses, bookmarks, passwords, and credit card numbers,” said Gartner.

This control is particularly key to AOL Time Warner and Microsoft, Gartner said, because “if either company can become the default holder of presence information, it will have access to significant and recurring revenue.”

But proving Microsoft’s guilt could be a long time in coming, industry experts say.

“Given the stakes, and the spin machines that both companies have at their command,” said the Gartner viewpoint, “the fireworks around the AOL Time Warner suit hold the potential to eclipse those of the government trial.”

For educators, who increasingly rely on web-based content in classrooms and central offices, anything with the potential to significantly alter the accessibility and richness of the internet is a development worth watching.

Related links:
AOL Time Warner
http://www.aol.com

Microsoft Corp.
http://www.microsoft.com

Gartner Inc.
http://www.gartner.com

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ESEA changes will delay this year’s tech funding

The newly reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is forcing state departments of education to change the way they make grants for technology, and state officials say complying with the new law’s provisions will delay the flow of technology dollars to schools this year.

In previous years, grant dollars for technology from the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund (TLCF) were distributed to state departments of education in the spring. Federal law mandated that states had to distribute the money to districts via competitive grants, said John Bailey, director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Education Technology.

Under the reauthorized ESEA, states now must distribute half of these dollars to local districts according to Title I formula. “The formula [approach] is a change from the way TLCF funds originally were distributed,” said Bailey.

State education officials are accustomed to periodic reauthorizations, but some say this one will be particularly difficult to implement because it came much later than in previous years. President Bush signed the legislation into law Jan. 8, and appropriations for the law were not approved by Congress until just before the new year.

Bailey attributes this delay to three factors: congressional gridlock, the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center towers, and the Capitol Hill anthrax attacks that displaced scores of House and Senate staffers.

“This was a hotly debated bill for a long time, and both [the events of] September 11 and the anthrax attacks delayed it as well,” he said.

The result: big changes in a relatively short amount of time for many state-level education departments.

“As you can imagine, this is a huge overhaul. We have to see how we can update our entire eGrants online [grant-giving] system to align with the new 50-percent [formula] rules,” said Priscilla Richardson, director of consolidated federal programs for the Washington state education department.

Richardson said that in normal years, Washington school officials fill out their applications for funds on the web between May and July. State officials approve the applications during July and August and send the money to the districts in time for the new school year.

According to Richardson, the Washington education department can assure districts they will have their technology grants in time to start distributing funds to schools in September, although she acknowledges that “exact timelines are unknown for us right now.”

Education officials in other states, such as Alabama, cannot make similar assurances.

According to Melinda Maddox, coordinator of the Alabama Department of Education’s Office of Technology Initiatives, “This [school] year, our schools will not see any federal funding” for technology.

That’s because Alabama awarded last year’s TLCF money to districts as soon as the state received it, in spring 2001. And schools aren’t likely to get this year’s money until fall at the earliest.

“Many states award [their grants] in the fall, but we do it as soon as we receive the funds,” said Maddox. Districts could have elected to carry over last year’s funds to this school year, she said, but most spent the money as soon as they received it.

That leaves Alabama districts that rely on federal dollars to support technology programs in a bind this school year.

“They’ll have to put [these programs] on hold until funding comes through, or come up with local funds to pay for them,” said Maddox. In many cases, the solution might be “just not purchasing any new hardware this year.”

Further delaying the disbursement of funds is the fact that states must report their Title I enrollment figures to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) after April 1.

“Since [federal] technology money is allocated based on the number of Title I students, we have to wait to receive those numbers” before disbursing the funding to states, said ED spokesman David Thomas, who added that this problem “isn’t unique to the technology program—it impacts a number of federal programs” this year.

Grants and funding experts say many districts will need to make adjustments to account for what might be a significant delay in technology dollars from the federal government this year.

“I think the … outcome is that [schools] will have to look to other places for money,” said eSchool News columnist and grant writing consultant Deborah Ward.

If states don’t find out about funding until late summer or early fall, Ward said the 2002-03 school year could be a “washout,” because some schools might not receive federal monies until well into the new school year.

“Schools are just going to have to adjust their calendars to correspond with the availability of funds,” she said. “For instance, they may have to do a project for six months instead of the planned year.”

Related links:
U.S. Department of Education
http://www.ed.gov

Washington Department of Education
http://access.wa.gov/education/index1.asp?L1=Education

Alabama Department of Education
http://www.alsde.edu

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Schools eye tracking system after bus hijacking

The disappearance in late January of a Pennsylvania school bus on what should have been a minutes-long trip has school districts around the country looking to the heavens for help. They’re consulting satellite tracking companies about how to keep better tabs on students.

“We’ve been swamped with calls,” said Daniel Lee, vice president of FleetBoss Global Positioning Solutions, whose systems monitor various kinds of vehicles, including school buses in Cleveland and Tulsa, Okla., and charter buses operated by Coach USA.

Todd Lewis of the company’s Philadelphia office said Pennsylvania districts have made inquiries “piqued by last [January’s] current events.”

The bus in Berks County, which is northwest of Philadelphia, went missing after picking up 13 students, ages 7 through 15, for a short trip from a high school to their Christian school nearby.

Frantic parents gathered at a municipal building and a police helicopter and cruisers made futile searches in rainy, foggy weather, until driver Otto Nuss parked the bus and surrendered to an off-duty police officer six hours later in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. Nuss, who authorities said had a loaded rifle aboard the bus, faces kidnapping charges.

“You couldn’t find the bus in five hours. I could find it in five seconds,” Lee said. In fact, the tracking system could sound an alarm as soon as a bus left its route, he said.

Since the Berks County scare, two state senators have said they are drafting measures to examine the possibility of installing transponder devices similar to the LoJack stolen vehicle tracking system that would help locate missing buses.

All kinds of fleet operators, from trucking companies to city sanitation departments, keep a satellite eye on employees. FleetBoss, headquartered in Orlando, Fla., makes systems that track municipal garbage trucks and snow plows, service vehicles such as plumbing, heating, and air conditioning vans, and all of Orkin’s pest control vans, Lewis said.

Fleets save money because drivers speed less and don’t make unauthorized side trips, and drivers become safer, he said.

“You can know you have a driver who’s doing Mach 1 down a side street before an accident happens,” Lewis said. “You tell him I don’t want to see this. It literally changes the behavior of the drivers.”

Many companies market the systems. For example, the MARCUS vehicle tracking system developed by Discrete Wireless of Atlanta tracks school buses in systems near Atlanta and New Orleans, as well as fleets of from 10 to 100 vehicles in the trucking, courier, limousine, and various field-service businesses.

Elsewhere in Berks County, the Wilson School District is installing a tracking system with an additional wrinkle: boxes in pupil’s homes that sound a tone when the bus gets close.

The “Here comes the bus” system is being donated to the district in a pilot program by the developer, Joe Winkler, owner of Everyday Wireless in West Lawn, said Brian P. Loncar, supervisor of transportation for the district.

The West Paterson school district in Passaic County, N.J., implemented a system in September designed to do more than monitor buses. The system also gives students plastic ID tags that register on computer scanners so that parents can use a password on a web site to see where a child gets on and off each bus.

Terry Van Lear, operator of a school bus company in Reading and president of the Pennsylvania School Bus Association, said bus surveillance can cost from $350 per vehicle for a basic LoJack system that lets police locate a stolen or hijacked bus, to $2,500 per vehicle for the most elaborate tracking capabilities.

Related links:
FleetBoss Global Positioning Solutions
http://www.fleetboss.com/home.cfm

Discrete Wireless Inc.
http://www.discretewireless.com

Everyday Wireless Inc.
http://www.herecomesthebus.com/work.html

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eSchool News’ 2002 Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards

The growing influence of technology in the nation’s schools is changing our expectations of the superintendency. As schools begin to rely on computers and the internet to engage students’ interest, track their progress, and aid in decision making, an understanding of how technology works and how it can be used to transform teaching and learning is an increasingly valued characteristic for the 21st-century school executive.

In our second annual Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards, eSchool News recognizes 12 of the nation’s top K-12 executives for their leadership and vision in the area of educational technology. Chosen by the editors of eSchool News, these 12 outstanding men and women lead by their example. This year’s award winners will be honored by their peers in a ceremony during the Superintendents’ Technology Summit being held March 10-12 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Austin, Texas.

Christine M. Carter, Reed Union School District (Tiburon, Calif.)

Christine Carter has been the superintendent of the Reed Union School District since July 1998, and she is proud of the many technology accomplishments that have been realized in her district during the past four years. A laptop program for teachers was implemented two years ago, and teachers must attend a two-day workshop to pass a basic proficiency assessment. They are each given a laptop at the completion of the two days of training; to date, 98 percent of the district’s teaching staff participates in the program.

eMail is used widely at Reed schools, and homework, weekly school newsletters, and employment applications are now posted on the district’s web site. To further support the use of technology, each school in the district has a full-time technology teacher whose role is to assist, train, and support staff members.

The district’s technology plan has been revised to incorporate technology standards, and its new facilities plan was written to reflect the kind of infrastructure that buildings will need to accommodate future technologies. Most recently, the district’s Bel Aire Elementary School received the National Blue Ribbon Schools Special Honors in Technology award.

In 1998, Carter was named Placer County’s Administrator of the Year in Curriculum and Instruction. Prior to 1998, she served in the Roseville City School District as a kindergarten, fourth, and fifth grade teacher, vice principal, principal, and the assistant superintendent of instructional services.

http://rusd.marin.k12.ca.us

Rudy M. Castruita, San Diego County (Calif.) Office of Education

The San Diego County Office of Education is a regional service agency for 42 school districts, 600 schools, and nearly 500,000 students. County Superintendent Rudy Castruita brought a vision of technology with him when he arrived at the San Diego County Office in 1994, after five years as superintendent in Santa Ana Unified, California’s fifth largest district.

“Technology can enlighten our minds and expand our worlds,” Castruita has written. “It can motivate, inspire, and—most importantly—dramatically accelerate learning.” Castruita co-founded the Superintendents’ Technology Advisory Committee, which supports countywide technology development and disseminates best practices. In 1997, he opened the Joe Rindone Regional Technology Center, one of the foremost centers for K-12 educational computing in the United States. Financed by $1 million in seed money from the state of California and corporate partners, the center serves as a regional hub for videoconferencing, staff development, and state-of-the-art computing.

Castruita is also on the advisory board of the prestigious Education Research and Development Institute, and he remains committed to meeting the everyday needs of school districts and teachers. Castruita’s office provides broadband connectivity to all 42 local districts, offering DS3 connections directly to the internet. Castruita is as enthusiastic about technology today as he was a decade ago. “‘No limits’ is still our motto,” he said.

http://www.sdcoe.k12.ca.us

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FCC seeks comment on changes to eRate rules

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has initiated a review process of the rules and regulations that govern the eRate, the $2.25 billion program that provides discounts on telecommunications services and internet access to the nation’s schools and libraries.

The 46-page Notice of Proposed Rule Making and Order, released Jan. 25, asks members of the public for their opinions on several detailed proposals, as well as their own ideas for how to make the program simpler and more efficient. The request comes a few months after an audit of 18 recipients of Year One eRate funds by Arthur Andersen LLP turned up widespread violations of program rules (story, Page One).

The four-year-old eRate has committed a total of $5.958 billion in discounts so far to help the nation’s poorest and most isolated communities get advanced telecommunications services and internet access. Many school leaders, while grateful for the program’s existence, have chafed under its strict rules and complicated paperwork.

The FCC said it is considering changes to the eRate rules to streamline and improve the program, to ensure that the program remains fair and equitable, and to make sure there is no waste, fraud, or abuse.

The agency has requested comment on various aspects of four major program areas: the application process, the disbursement of funds, program integrity assurance, and what to do with unused or unclaimed funds.

Application process

The FCC wants educators to submit proposals for changes that will improve the efficiency, predictability, flexibility, and administrative costs of determining eligible products and services.

As an example, the agency suggested that perhaps, when applying, applicants would only select products and services from a pre-approved online list, thereby simplifying the application review process. This would also avoid accidental funding of ineligible services.

The FCC would like to know whether educators think this is feasible, or even desirable. Who would be responsible for putting together such a list, and how would it be updated?

Other questions the FCC has concerning the application process include:

• Should the FCC change eligibility requirements concerning voice mail, wide area networks (WANs), and wireless services? “Certain state government representatives have suggested that we reconsider whether our policies regarding WANs, for example, have resulted in an efficient use of program funds,” the FCC said.

• Should internet access that is bundled with content be eligible for eRate discounts?

• Should schools have to certify whether they comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other related laws?

Disbursement of funds

The FCC has asked whether the public thinks schools and libraries should have the flexibility to choose for themselves whether they want to pay for services in full and then be reimbursed via the Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) form, or whether they want to pay only those portions of the charges not eligible for eRate discounts when service begins.

Current rules leave this detail to be worked out between applicants and their service providers, but because funding is disbursed only to service providers—and not applicants—the potential exists for service providers to require applicants to pay for services in full and then seek reimbursement.

Also, should the Schools and Libraries Division of the Universal Service Administrative Co.—the group that administers the eRate—be required to reimburse applicants within 20 days after they submit a BEAR Form? Should there be limits on the extent to which schools and libraries can substitute comparable equipment (newer models, for example) for specific equipment already approved for purchase with eRate funds?

Finally, should rural communities be allowed to tap into the excess internet capacity obtained through the eRate? The discounted services “are used for educational purposes during hours when the schools and libraries are open, but remain unused during off hours when the entities are closed,” the FCC stated in its Notice. (An earlier ruling by the agency gave permission for rural Alaskan residents without access to dial-up internet service to tap into the excess capacity of satellite-based school internet access purchased with eRate funds—but only outside of school hours.)

Program integrity assurance

The FCC has taken a number of steps to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse, such as by increasing the number of audits and by withholding suspect payments. But should the agency require independent audits at the recipients’ expense when there is strong reason to believe that problems exist? Should certain service providers who have repeatedly failed to comply with the programs rules be banned from participating for a number of years?

Unused program funds

Each funding year, a large portion of the available money—capped at $2.25 billion—has gone unused or unclaimed. How can the FCC reduce the underutilization of committed funds? How should the agency treat unused funds?

The FCC also would like comments on any of its rules that have become “outmoded” since the program started four years ago.

You have until 45 days after the Notice is published in the Federal Register to submit your ideas and comments. Comments can be submitted online or by mail; for details, see the link below.

Related links:
FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rule Making
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-02-8A1.txt

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Education’s essential element

Now comes the push for accountability through assessment and for schools to take charge of what comes into their classrooms and libraries from the internet (See our Special Reports on Assessment & Accountability on page 17 and Filtering & Beyond on page 33.)

Yet once again, you and your colleagues are being called on to do more—a lot more—with less.

A lot less? Too soon to say. How much less is not entirely clear just yet. (For some indications, though, see “Bush budget cuts school tech dollars,” front page, and “Funding for Maine laptop program in jeopardy,” page 51.)

What a difference a year makes. It seems like only yesterday America enjoyed booming economic prospects that stretched as far as the eye could see. State and local governments were awash in operating surpluses from sea to shining sea. Presidential candidates, federal lawmakers, governors, and state legislators were only too happy to encourage ambitious plans and to underwrite them at funding levels for education that, for once, were not half bad. Plans involving technology-powered education were especially well received.

In those heady days, it seemed almost possible to roll the quaint, old business cycle into the garage and park it against the wall, just in time to ride merrily along on the NASDAQ-driven bandwagon.

Well, that was then. Business thrived; state and federal tax revenues gushed in.

This is now. And now, educators watch the skies grow darker, feel the thickness permeate the atmosphere. We begin to hear that inelegant refrain we know so well.

Suck it up. Hunker down. It’s belt-tightening time again.

Demands for accountability through assessment are louder than ever. Insistence on internet controls remain in place. Budgets, on the other hand, will be smaller. Assessment and internet management are hot, but some politicians now are turning cool when it comes to funding. What else is new?

Technology for one thing. Without the new and effective technology just now becoming available, neither accountability on a grand scale nor effective control of internet content would be possible—period, full stop.

But even if technology budgets were bulging, no one would reach the desired goals without something far more crucial than the technology itself. When it comes to accountability through assessment and internet management, technology is a requirement, but a secondary one.

The primary requirement is something considerably older and perhaps rarer. The first thing we need, without which technology will avail us little, is good, old-fashioned leadership. Without wise selection, proper preparation, thoughtful implementation, sound evaluation, and regular adjustment, investments in technology will pay small dividends and sometimes will do more harm than good

Piles of hardware and stacks of software can give the false impression of progress. But without savvy leadership—starting with the superintendent and permeating throughout the entire education enterprise—technology initiatives will be for naught.

That’s why it’s so important to stop from time to time and celebrate the top school chiefs who really get it. And that’s exactly what we do on page 14 of this issue. Read about this year’s twelve Tech-Savvy Superintendents. Come join us at the Superintendents’ Technology Summit in Austin, Texas, March 10-12, as we honor these excellent leaders on their numerous achievements.

Our purpose in the awards and the ceremony is not only to recognize individual leaders for their vision and execution, but also to encourage others to emulate this excellent behavior. We need more a lot more tech-savvy superintendents.

Bright-minded men and women dedicated to education and sophisticated in the effective uses of technology will supply the resources this nation needs to prepare another generation of young people for an ever-more-challenging world. As school leaders have done before, they’ll find a way to accomplish this daunting task—whether the politicians make the job easier or harder.

At the end of the day, it’s not what comes from outside that will make the crucial difference. It’s what’s within. It’s down to you. After all, isn’t that why you got into this field in the first place?

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