Wednesday, February 19, 2014
The Not So Educated Education System
So since last tuesday and the time i wrote a blog before that i've had the great fortune to start working at the school as the resident Tech Specialist. I pretty much just fix computers for 8 hours a day or when there are no computers to fix i just sit at my desk and wait (or occupy myself with other means). But i recently was invited to the 2014-2015 techcnology planning committee for all of my school district where we sat down in groups of 5 and attempted to point out the issues that we saw with the 2010-2013 technology plan. We did make a lot of suggestions for the new plan that is getting a preliminary draft as we speak, but i noticed something huge: Public schools are grossly under funded. As a Tech. Spec. i am paid about 33% of the national average wage for other people in my position. Granted i'm at the bottom of the ladder but even my entrance wage was just a blip on the map compared to what most IT guys make walking in. That and i generally am required to work harder than most iT Guys. Let me explain: the proper tech spec. to tech items ratio is at the max 1:400 but is usually appropriate at ~1:300. This will ensure that the tech spec has enough time in his day to get to every problem with no hiccups at all. The average ratio at my school district (something like 22 different schools each with their own tech spec) is around 1:850. On top of that, our technology is grossly out dated. it wasn't until October of last year that we finally shipped off the very last batch of computers that were purchased in 1999 and ran windows 98 natively. XP barely. The upgrade frequency for us is supposed to be every 4 years but we're sitting at roughly 15 or 16 years per upgrade. Why do you ask is this a big deal? The state i live in, Arizona, had passed a bill in 2013 that said they were going to increase the state-wide sales tax by 1% for 3 years and dedicate all of that money to education to improve wages and technology. What actually happened? They increase the state-wide sales tax by the 1% and then pushed all that money in to the state coffers from where it will never see the light of day. In Arizona, Education i almost at the very bottom of the list when it comes down to funding, and when they write bills, they use it as a point of guilt to get people to approve said bills. I'm sure it's not just the state of Arizona, but it's disappointing when Schools fall so far behind on technology when technology is exactly where the future is headed. Technology now has a set of fundamental skills, that may not have been considered fundamental 14 years ago, that should all be taught starting at a very early age to encourage a successful future. These are things like how to understand a computer desktop, typing skills, presentation software, word processing software spreadsheet software, anti-viruses, public speaking with the use of modern technology, basic computer skills and dare i say just a smattering of programming. Not a whole lot but if you can teach a kid just enough in program to get them interested in it or evoke some thought in their minds then chances are it could very well improve problem solving and logical thinking skills. But do we mandate that first graders should learn how to type appropriately? do we mandate that fourth grades learn how to use powerpoint in a professional manner and speak effectively and confidently in front of their peers? not in the slightest. So what gives? I know that there are some of you that highly doubt that K-5th graders have the level of thought required to program but you and i both know that's a load of bullshit. At that age they're in the formative years where their brains are the most malleable and the most susceptible to impressions. If there's any age they can be imprinted with the logical reasoning of programming it would be at that age. Would it be every kids cup of tea? absolutely not, but it's definitely worth a try. I'm really not sure how other states education funding measures up to Arizona, i imagine it could be worse, about the same or better because there really are not other generalized answers to that question, but i honestly think that education needs to become of larger importance to this country. We want our kids to be prepared for the future and to be better than their fathers when they grow up, but where they're most malleable? we refuse to supply them with all the tools they need to grow into something better than we were.