• Goto NETFUTURE main page
  •                                 NETFUTURE
                       Technology and Human Responsibility
    Issue #42      Copyright 1997 O'Reilly & Associates          March 6, 1997
                Editor:  Stephen L. Talbott (stevet@netfuture.org)
                         On the Web: http://netfuture.org
         You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes.
    *** Quotes and Provocations
          You Can Fire the Teachers, But You Still Need the Technicians
          The New Money: Anonymous But Countable
          What Lies Beyond Multiculturalism?
    *** Seeking Balance (Stephen L. Talbott)
    The hope of computerized dissonance
    *** About this newsletter

    *** Quotes and Provocations

    You Can Fire the Teachers, But You Still Need the Technicians

    I've been thinking for a few months now that 1997 is very likely to see the first high-profile, tempest-causing note of sanity sounded against the cooption of primary and secondary education by the costs, the time drain, and the general irrelevance of computerized technology. Before long someone is going to step forward and jar society with an unexpected word of common sense.

    We're at least a step closer to that happening with the announcement of what looks to be a dramatic conference at Penn State University in September. It's called "Education and Technology: Asking the Right Questions," and will include such featured speakers as Neil Postman, Ivan Illich, and Langdon Winner. Not your usual, sheep-minded, "isn't technology cool" education crowd. For more information, call 814-863-5110 or write to ConferenceInfo@cde.psu.edu.

    Meanwhile, the few educators in the trenches with their eyes open find themselves appalled by the scale of the folly, if only in economic terms, quite apart from the educational issues. Lowell Monke, who teaches computer technology in the Des Moines public schools, and who also participates in the district's technology planning efforts, writes:

    I just talked to the head of the technicians in the district and his take is even more bleak than mine. We currently have about 2000 computers in the district and 5 technicians. He claims that businesses generally maintain a ratio of computers to techs well under 100 to 1. That means we are at least 15 short right now. The number of computers will double in the district in the next 5 years according to current plans. That means we should go from 5 to 40 tech positions to adequately support our computer operations. We also now only have 3, not 4, tech staff development people. That number is woefully inadequate now so one would suspect that within 5 years we will need at least a total of 10 staff development people working just on tech stuff.
    Keep in mind that none of these include the 10 people being proposed
    [for] curriculum tech support.  It also doesn't include any personnel
    needed in the high or middle schools -- that part is scheduled for action
    next year.  So add another 5 support people there, minimum.  That's 65-70
    tech staff needed within the next 5 years to adequately support the
    computers we ar