Idaho is ga-ga for computers and online learning. State Superintendent Tom Luna has made online learning the centerpiece of his “reform” agenda. Tom Luna has close ties to the for-profit online industry.
Teachers welcome computers and technology in the classroom, but Luna takes it to an extreme. He views technology as a cost-saving device, so he is (paradoxically) investing heavily in hardware and software, on the assumption that in time there will be need for fewer teachers. Teachers are an old-fashioned, expensive, near obsolete technology. Teachers need health care and pensions; computers don’t. Teachers are ornery and they often have thoughts that don’t coincide with the state’s agenda; computers don’t.
A veteran teacher decided that enough is enough. She did something she never dreamed she would do. She wrote an opinion piece for the local Idaho newspaper. She disagreed with the order to devote 49% of instruction in world history to computer time. Education is not simply imbibing facts:
Successful students must learn certain values such as patience, hard work, self-discipline, honesty, respect for others, etc. Teachers instill those values, not computers. Teachers serve as positive role models and successful learning requires positive human interaction. In training we were informed by a district official that “with the incorporation of this program you will not even have to interact with your students.” For those who do not understand how such an approach to teaching can damage a student’s education, there is no reason to explain further. You will never understand.
She realizes that the changes now being imposed from the top come from people who know little about students or teaching or education:
I now see individuals taking over decision-making positions in education who have no classroom experience, implementing programs that have made the classroom critically vulnerable to their destructive impact and counterintuitive to education. There is too much noise regarding the state of education that is distracting and destroying the true nature of education, which should center on the student. Students learn best when they have caring and reputable teachers. And we have them in the Coeur d’Alene School District. However, this is changing and if left unopposed will destroy our quality of education leaving our students, our community and our state to pay for these mistakes.
This teacher put her own job at risk by speaking out. With hundreds, nay, thousands of voices like hers, the public will begin to understand what is being done to their children and to our nation’s schools.