Bond issues for technology have inherent challenges. Technology is fast changing and can easily become outdated even before a five-year bond issue is paid off. Parents and taxpayers also understand that technology is a tool, not a panacea, for improved student learning.
The effectiveness of such tools relies heavily on a teacher's ability and commitment to integrating technology into instruction in a compelling and relevant way. Even more important is whether the teacher is an effective educator regardless of the tools available. The teachers who are already at the top of their profession will no doubt present compelling lessons with the technology. But where does that leave students with less-capable teachers?
Ballard's concern about a digital gap is valid. Inner-city children already have significant challenges to overcome compared with their suburban peers. A digital divide in the classroom shouldn't be one of those challenges, but we fear the gap will only widen for students with technology-averse teachers.
School districts are often criticized for their antiquated ways. They must invest in technology to make classrooms real-world places of learning. Still, taxpayers shouldn't be afraid to pose the tough questions as they are asked to pay for this technology, including how school districts plan to maintain the investment, how they'll make sure teachers are prepared to make the best use of the technology and how students will be the main beneficiaries.