Archived Story

Internet access, other technology underutilized

Published 11:33am Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I heard after the President’s State of the Union address that the German’s are two years ahead of U.S. graduates. I heard this in 1975, while in the Air Force in Britain. Comparisons with other nations rank U.S. students in the twenties in math and science-subjects industry needs. Those ranks are for eighth grade, with four more years to fall further behind.

We split the atom in 1945, sent men to the Moon in 1969 and created the internet that exploded in 1995. We spend more than other nations with lower results.

With improving technology and falling prices, education should follow with lower costs and higher quality. Having the internet in schools does not guarantee “effective” use as having teachers does not guarantee results.

Our thinking skills are reduced by the industrial age needing mostly unskilled jobs with limited thinking opportunities and the news media doing our thinking. Education is local with little hope of a higher level discussion of how state or national help can be beneficial. How do libraries and more choices reduce control?

The DeptEd is prevented from helping or providing advice. Ask them. Its only tool is control of funding that locals see as reducing local budgets and control. We overlook common problems at higher levels preventing common standards and solutions that would allow more local choices and control at lower costs.

We teach vocabulary and grammar but not listening changing our discussions into arguments. Business owners, workers, competitors and customers concerns must work together. One perspective is not enough to understand issues. Politicians sound like lawyers including only facts supporting their side.

Education is about learners acquiring knowledge supported by schools and teachers. Labor unions, like the Education Association, resist productive improvements fearing reduction of teacher hours and jobs.

Online learning like k12.com or IQ Academy are paid by the State and credits students to schools that provide linked teachers. This supports teachers more than students. I find knowledge exciting but the internet is as frustrating as missinformed opinions.

I sometimes search multiple websites for information like missing product info. Reviews and suggestions should be gathered so customers and manufacturers can quickly find them without searching multiple sites. We focus on access to the internet but forget its content is as imperfect as human communication.

Wikipedia and Project Gutenberg allow anyone to benefit and contribute for free. Some universities offer free study materials and courses to even non students. K-12 education must do the same or fall behind rich families, communitees and other countries.

Proper use of technology can free up time to manage: apply knowledge, help needy students and develop critical thinking skills. Even dairy farmers use machines to milk, feed and clean barns freeing them to manage their cows.

Few know about the narrator built into computers that allow them to speak any text. This is used for disabled users but can help to learn a language, even your own. I have owned computers with this ability since 1987. Cheap home computers in the 1980s used tvs allowing connection to video recorders.

Adding a microphone provided a cheap way to make educational videos especially for math and science. Many school computers had monitors instead without this cheap and effective opportunity.

In a world economy we must look for every advantage to provide more choices for teachers and students to succeed. We must minimize budget cut effects, discuss the issues at a higher level and recognize what skills industry needs. “local control” means no teamwork at a higher level than “MY” classroom, community, teacher or student.

This includes teacher’s unions or departments of education.

The printing press started the “Information Age” with great

improvements from radio, tv and the internet. We, especially teachers, must understand how learning, information and technology can help us start the “knowledge age.”

 

Michael Toso

1970 Fergus Falls

graduate

Oklahoma City, Okla.

  • J Mullins

    The summer vacations and spring breaks are not for the students’ benefit, they are paid time off for the TEACHERS. The National Education Association (NEA) is NOT an altruistic collection of teachers dedicated to improving teaching content or methods to benefit our young; it is a radical leftist union formed and managed to extort the maximum wages and benefits, the minimum hours in a worday, the least number of days worked per year, the most expensive retirement packages for its teacher members. It adamantly and viscerally resists any attempts to evaluate the performance and competence of teachers, and swings it heavily weighted bat at any school board members or politicians of any level who attempt to enact actual reforms which will raise the levels of knowledge of useful and usuable information imparted to students. And it will savage any teacher member who even raises questions about its goals, tactics,and results. I have attended local, state, and national NEA conventions, and they are best characterized as gatherings of greedy, money grubbing , leftist radicals determined to further anti-American causes and politicians. And, is to these people we entrust the education of our young?

    • Phaedrus

      I’m not sure it’s necessary to provide historical evidence to show a pattern (although it doesn’t hurt anything), but if we perform a conceptual analysis of the claims – we’ll find out that what Jerome has said is literally false. For example: “The summer vacations and spring breaks are not for the students’ benefit, they are paid time off for the TEACHERS.”

      The contracts are public information, so if you go look them up you’ll see that teachers are paid for the 9 months they are in the classroom (and the option of having their pay spread out over 12 months is a benefit negotiated by the union). In other words (for easy math), let’s say that teachers earned $12000/year – they then have the option of being paid $1333.33/month for 9 months or being paid $1000/month for 12 months. But clearly, it’s FASLSE to say that teachers summers are “paid vacation” and the idea that your employer gets to decide when you’ll get your one week of paid vacation (and it’s not clear that “spring break” qualifies as paid vacation) is pretty “tyrannical” on the part of the school districts.

      The hysterical ramblings after that are fictional as well. How can one know that? Because the claims are dependent upon the impossible, namely that Jerome possesses a super-human power that allows him to “read the minds and intentions” of all the members of the NEA. That’s just silly, EVEN IF (for the sake of argument, although it seems pretty implausible) we accept his claim “I have attended local, state, and national NEA conventions.” All farmers, priests and nuns, truckers, dentists, business people (or whatever group you want) look at everything exactly the same way, right? If the implication is that he was there as a member, then by analogy, we would have to call him a “TINO” (Teacher In Name Only – and thus, NOT an accurate representation of the position – isn’t that how it works?).

      But what I’m really interested in is the claim, “raise the levels of knowledge of useful and useable information imparted to students.” First, I’m not sure what the distinction is between “useful” and “useable” (it seems redundant), but is the suggestion that we replace biology with creationism and discourage the use of “critical thinking” (as the Texas GOP platform suggested)? If so, it’s difficult to see how that would be useful or helpful.

      And the implication that attempts to, “maximum wages and benefits, the minimum hours in a workday, the least number of days worked per year” is somehow “wrong” is conceptually incompatible with capitalism in general. That’s because the “altruistic private businesses” try to “maximum wages and benefits, the minimum hours in a workday, the least number of days worked per year” – right? No? They try to minimize wages and benefits, maximize hours in a workday and number of days worked in order to maximize “profit”. So strange!

      And isn’t it generally accepted that you have to “pay more” for excellence? You don’t get the same quality for a lesser price (when we’re talking about CEO’s, franchise quarterbacks, etc.) – right? So the question is, what makes people think that by cutting teacher pay, or decreasing benefits, or increasing hours/days you’re going to attract “better teachers”? I suppose a person can believe a contradiction, but that just makes them irrational (and thus, not credible).

    • Walt Henry

      Let me add just a little of the reality of history–schools in farming communities were closed in the summer months so kids could help with the field work, not because teachers demanded summers off. Schools were closed in the summer months in cities for a couple of reasons–summers in the city without air conditioning were hot and that often brought tensions, tensions being a distraction to learning. And, those people who could afford it, left the cities and moved to cooler summer places, Lake Minnetonka with its resort hotels being one, Wisconsin Dells being another taking their kids with them. So those being the reasons generated in history for the school calendar being what it is does the commenter suggest increasing teacher pay a third to compensate for the additional working hours and increasing the utility bills by air conditioning all of the schools?

  • Richard Olson

    The comment by Jerome Mullins (above) is his parochial opinion, not fact. When assessing the opinion of Jerome Mullins it is instructive to recall some of the other comments Jerome has tried to pass off as facts on these pages.

    Not too long ago Jerome and another conservative, Dave Adams were demanding that this newspaper investigate their allegations that then Senator Gretchen Hoffman was being harassed and threatened by union thugs to the point where she required an armed escort for protection just to walk from room to room in the capitol.

    Adams wrote on the Fergus Falls Daily Journals site that…..
    “In keeping her promise to us, Hoffman has been threatened with loss of her life, and bullied so badly by liberal groupies within the capitol halls that she has had to have capitol police escort her from her offices to committee hearings.

    Jerome Mullins wrote…. “And her work in committees to expose and cut unnecessary jobs and payroll expenses in some bloated governmental agencies and departments has got the government labor unions so angry with her that there are days when several Capitol police have to escort her and other conservative lawmakers around the halls of the legislature to provide her safety from the threats of the unions.

    I don’t know if the Fergus Falls Journal took Mullins allegations seriously enough to investigate but some did, both print and electronic media conducted an investigation. The result of those investigations were “no evidence for Mullins claims”.

    The Senate Sergeant at Arms office said “they hadn’t heard of any threats to Senator Hoffman, and John Mock at Capitol Security said that “no state patrol officers had been assigned to escort Senator Hoffman during the session, and his office had no record of any death threats to Hoffman that had been reported to Capitol Security.” as a result of the investigations one on-line investigator said (of Adams & Mullins) “Given their flair for hysterics, and the overall lack of evidence at the state capitol for their claims, let them go into show business. All across greater Minnesota, cable access channels are crying out for material. These budding scriptwriters should pitch a show that will demonstrate their creative potential. Call it “The Real Drama Queens of Otter Tail County.”

    Allegations of union thugery are common dog whistle language in Jerome’s comments, but left wing conspiracies figure large also. A short month ago this newspaper as a public service published an article warning people to be aware of a new computer virus making the rounds. Jerome’s response to the published warning? “Just another fundraising mechanism for Barack 0bama’s 2016 re-election campaign”

    I have other examples of off the wall, tin foil hat remarks by Jerome Mullins but the above should be sufficient to clue any reasonable person as to the veracity of any comment from Jerome Mullins.

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