- Both Kansas City Public School Board meetings in July were dominated by conversation about the One-to-One program that gives every student in the district a laptop computer. Investigation of this initiative began in February. By June, administrators had developed the RFP, selected the Huntsville, Alabama School District as their prototype and Pearson as the software provider. The digital conversion from textbooks to computers appeared to be ready to begin.
At the workshop meeting, a detailed 4-pronged process of how the project was being implemented was described. On paper it looked as though months had gone into the planning with parents duly debriefed by the opening of school and all teachers on board and assigned to planning teams.
Andrea Flinders, AFT President, took the floor and presented a very different picture of the upcoming digital conversion. The teachers had not been adequately involved and, in effect, would not have the necessary training sufficient to implement this new technology in the fall despite the programmed 2½ days of professional development on the use of curriculum. So the linchpin, the central and cohesive unit is missing: the teacher buy-in.
At the July 24 business meeting, Ms. Flinders and parent Pam Kingsley warned of the pitfalls, need for more planning, more student and faculty involvement, and beta tests. The administrative responded that they were already planning to deal with the issues laid out by Ms. Flinders and Ms. Kingsley.
An effective organization contemplating an investment and major change of this magnitude would be utilizing expert consultants, not vendors, who had successfully implemented such projects before.
- The administration presented an update on a series of planned repairs and new facilities totaling up to $125 million based on the assumption that enrollment will be growing as more families gain faith in the “new” school district. There was no mention of more charters, waiting lists for transfers, and a possible state takeover. The board always asks and is routinely assured that these expenditures will improve academic achievement.
- The consent agenda contained expenditures totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars with little or no explanation of the items. It is hoped that the board is carefully examining those requests prior to the meetings.
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