Letter to the Editor: The current pilot project does not address the 1:1 issues

This week's South County Independent newspaper has an article on the school district's 1:1 initiative. Unfortunately, there is a gross misrepresentation of my thinking on the matter and one statement that is attributed to me might get me lynched by the teachers! Here is my response.

Letter to the Editor:

We should expect our high school students to have the means of engaging with their work, their peers, their teachers, and their administration at all times. It is significant that the school district is moving forward to supporting this. Where I am at odds with the school district is with the pilot's actual focus, the speed and approach of the process, and its entanglement with PARCC testing.

Let us first make clear what "one-to-one" (1:1) means. It is one device per student that is available all day and every day inside and outside of school. Preparing our students for college or career is to prepare them for continuous engagement and interaction. Working as needed, when needed, with current and relevant materials, with the appropriate people, and all without regard to location or time zone.

The current pilot project does not address the 1:1 issues. What the pilot does is to repeat the work done by hundreds of other school districts across the country and that is to provide laptops to teachers for student use for specific classroom instruction. In short, the laptops are lab equipment. $98,000 of lab equipment and one instructor (FTE).

The school district is heading quickly down the wrong road. The only public meeting on this was in November 2013 when BYOD ("bring your own device") plan was, rightly, abandoned and 1:1 became the new plan. Four months later the "devices", "professional development", and "finance" committees were created to plan the work. The teachers and students have yet to be involved in the planning and yet we expect everything needing to change to be ready by August 2014.

We don't need to rush. I suggest that there first needs to be a plan as to how the freshmen teachers (as a whole) will use 1:1. Let us use the 2014 summer and the 2014 fall to figure this out. Use a portion of the pilot's allocated money to contract for the help and buy some equipment and services to learn with. And please let us have the students engaged in this work too. Only then let us work out the specific devices, professional development, and finances needed in the 2014 winter and 2015 spring. Have everything in place for the 2015 fall.

Yours truly,
Andrew Gilmartin

For related postings see one-to-one.