A reader sent me a wonderful editorial from a newspaper in Idaho. I liked it because it called out State Superintendent Tom Luna for his self-promoting campaign to replace teachers with online instruction. Idaho is a red state where there is not a lot of diversity of opinion, but whether you are red or blue, you should have common sense when it comes to education. The crucial ingredients in education are always the same: the student, the family, the teacher, the school, the curriculum, and the community. When all those factors work together, students tend to get a good solid education. When they don’t, education suffers and students don’t learn much.
Technology can’t take the place of any of the essential ingredients. It is certainly a delightful thing to have computers and smart boards in the classroom. Teachers do amazing things with computers, and students can use them for research and individual projects. But no computer can motivate a student who is unmotivated. Or take the place of a family who makes sure that the student is well fed and healthy. Or replace a teacher who knows how to teach and loves her subject. Or take the place of a community that puts a high value on education. Or compensate for a school that lacks adequate resources and a strong curriculum and good leadership.
All these elements make a difference.
Tom Luna is now on the Romney education team. He has a long history of collaboration with software corporations. The children of Idaho would be better served if he built collaboration with teachers and parents and communities, not the online corporations that helped to put him in office.