It's been almost twenty days. Standardization season was upon us here in Florida as we administered the FCAT Exams. It gets busy, busy... not to mention crazy at school. So, I am finally sitting down and collecting my thoughts and tearing through my mile-long "to do" list.
After my four days of proctoring the exam, I had but one question...
How much for all these pencils?
We provide pencils for the 1.7 million students that take this exam each year in the State of Florida. This is what goes through my mind as I watch these students traverse through this standardized exam. After a bit of research, I was able to find a figure for FCAT spending here in Florida. We are looking at about $28.4 million - with about $170k going to the purchase of pencils... yes, pencils.
I am a believer in standards and accountability. But, is this the way we need to go about it? Spending $28 + million to have students take the exam seems like money wasted. Why not put the money into the recruitment and hiring of qualified educators? Why not put the money into 1:1 initiatives? Why not put the money into the education (not the assessment) of our students?
I have been mulling over this post for the last few days. Actually, I have been mulling this post for years, I just didn't know it. I thank Dr. Scott McLeod for triggering this blog of epic importance.
Recently an article from the Orlando Sentinel and a post from Dr. McLeod on his blog rebutting the article have helped me in getting this post out of my head. I teach for a Central Florida school district neighboring the district discussed in the Sentinel's piece. The issues of whether using social media has been an ongoing debate down here for a while. The Central Florida area, as well as many others throughout the country has unfortunately had its bout with student-teacher inappropriate relationships.
The question is this: is the problem the technology, or the educator?
Blaming technology is not the answer. Instead school boards need to focus their attention on supervision of their educators to ensure that they are professional in their educational responsibilities. These educators will misuse whatever relationship they have with their students, whether it be digital, via text message, or face-to-face. Holding an entire generation of students hostage from 2.0 technologies because a few bad, bad people misuse them is not the answer. Teach responsibility, not just to students, but to educators as well.
The district that I work for has locked down technology because of the misuses and abuses of educators who were careless. We currently use Moodle and Gaggle... and that is all. We have no access to blogs, social networking, Google Apps for Education and other phenomenal technologies because they fear their use. Is this really what we want for our tech-savvy students?
Or, are we getting left in the [chalk] dust?
I would love to hear opinions, suggestions and discussion on how we can change this mindset.
Mike Meechin is an educator. He is employed by a school district in Central Florida as a high school social science teacher. Mike is also the owner of Innovate Education, LLC., an educational consulting firm in Central Florida.