by / June 2, 2006
As school districts nationwide race to implement the latest and greatest technology in the classroom, has anyone stopped to ask the reason for pursuing these cutting-edge investments?

Have the countless public education problems been rectified? Are children so proficient in reading and arithmetic that their time would be better spent building Web pages? Are parents and teachers becoming more motivated to fully engage in education? Have funding and administrative mismanagement been corrected?

The answer to these questions and a thousand others is, of course, no.

In coming months, the nation's voters will again be treated to the biennial political prevarication contest -- officially known as midterm elections -- when candidates vie for offices most are not remotely qualified for. For a lot of voters, it's the same false promise every year -- the pledge to finally fix the crippled public education system.

Many states are attempting to improve academic performance. Twenty-some states -- including Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio and Virginia -- have been administering high-school exit exams, which make a worthy attempt at quantifying whether students are ready to move past high school.

But in an age where feelings matter more than facts and personal responsibility is long dead, trouble is already brewing.

In California, which just began administering exit exams, several lawsuits have already been filed claiming the exam, a sample version of which can be found at the California Department of Education Web site is biased, racist, discriminatory, sexist and in English -- and whatever else can be conjured to divert blame and liability for failure. And when you combine California's inability to hold students, schools and parents accountable with the fact that the state's bumbling, inept Legislature controls the education budget -- instead of local municipal government, which would make sense -- it's no wonder education is in such sorry shape.

So what's the solution for today's modern schoolchildren? Why technology of course!

After all, we can't possibly consider changing public education. We wouldn't dare give parents a choice as to which school their children attend, or a voucher to let them make the decisions regarding their child's education. No, that is a job best left to the omniscient government. The government knows what's best for your child, and the answer is not reform, choice or change. It's technology.

Sarcasm aside, technology is a wonderful tool that can significantly enhance the educational experience, but it is not a solution. It's vital that today's children master technology skills, but not any more vital than reading comprehension and mathematics.

So when November rolls around and the candidates again promise to fix the public education system, you can rest assured knowing that absolutely nothing will change, except for maybe some new Web-based education tools ... which won't do much good if your kid can't read.

But don't worry, you can always sue.
Chad Vander Veen

Chad Vander Veen is the former editor of FutureStructure.


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