Utah Policy/KSL Insider Survey: Lockhart’s Education Technology Proposal

House Speaker Becky Lockhart is proposing the state spend between $200 and $300 million on a program to increase technology use in the classroom. Our “Political Insiders” and readers weigh in on the idea.

Results and anonymous comments after the jump.

Selected anonymous comments:

“35 kids with iPads in a classroom is still 35 kids in a classroom. It’s a band-aid solution no different than a parent giving their kid an iPad with Angry Birds on a Saturday afternoon to shut them up for a few hours.”

“I’d rather see Lockhart go to educators and ask what the legislature could do to help schools improve our children’s learning, not tell them what they need. If technology can play a role in that, great, but it needs to proceed from sound pedagogical practices and aims, not determine them.”

“It is time to welcome education to the 21st Century. Every other profession has made huge productivity gains since the PC revolution 30 years ago. Education is one exception. It is time.”

“This is not the time to invest in something that has no record of success. This may be a huge conflict of interest on her part.”

“We need to invest in these type of initiatives if we are to prosper economically now and down the road. That being said, we should also make sure we receive a good ROI.”

“Spend it elsewhere IN EDUCATION. It’s ridiculous that we can’t cover the basics in schools, can’t spend money on teacher training and quality, and she proposes this glitzy idea.”

“I applaud her willingness to be bold and support education. We certainly need to invest in technology, but there are other equally important education needs.”

“It is a good idea that should be phased in over time with a heavy emphasis on training teachers to integrate technology hardware and software into instruction with the goal of improving student learning.”

“Legislators don’t have nearly enough information about this to make an intelligent decision. It irritates me that the Speaker believes she can, by virtue of her position, can just jam through such a major initiative without even providing basic information about the bill despite being a third of the way through the session.”

“In some ideal world with well-funded schools, individual tablets would be a ‘nice to have.’ They are not sufficient to ‘teach’ children large portions of the curriculum. They are NOT a good reason to increase class sizes even further. Speaker Lockhart is following the lead of national groups who advocate technology as a way to educate more cheaply. There have been several embarrassing funding scandals and large numbers of broken equipment in these districts. In no instance have the tablets greatly improved education, whether as measured by test scores or by a more holistic view of a quality classroom experience.”

“Regardless of the profession, from mechanic, construction to software developer, computer literacy is as important as being able to communication in writing and speaking clearly. It is essential to the success of our youth. We need to be smart about funding. Just because it is a good idea does not mean we can recklessly fund it.”

“We have to do something to raise our education status, it is embarrassing to always find Utah at the bottom of the rankings. Our children deserve better.”

“Depends on what it is for and who gets the money. I assume Becky’s cronies get a big chunk of it. What the hell is wrong with giving more money to education, based on what education professionals (teachers) say they need instead of the legislature doing what will make them the most points (and money) with those that can help get them elected to the next higher office?”

“Something smells fishy…”

“I want my child to have smaller class sizes and an actual trained teacher, not another gadget. At my school, there is already plenty of technology, but the students go once a week to PE, and don’t have enough exposure to music and other arts. We need people for those things.”

“Based on the legislature’s $300,000 sweetheart payoff to the politically connected Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, and Big Game Forever last year, maybe we should figure whose pockets will be lined by our generous Speaker before we hold hands singing ‘Kumbaya’.”

“Our teachers are underpaid. If you have that much money then help the teachers.”

“This is just political grandstanding from a gubernatorial candidate who should know better. Not a bad idea, but probably worth sharing with Wayne Niederhauser in advance if you really want it to go anywhere.”

“Money out means money in. A formula a governor should know.”

“Lockhart is making calculated sound bites this session, trying to get in some memorable moments she can use in 2016. ‘Inaction figure’ was the first this session. This is the second. Stay tuned for more.”

“There’s little evidence that technology adds much to instructional outcomes. But then there’s not much correlation between spending on any instructional method and measurable results.”

“If you don’t know education then you believe technology will solve you problem.”

“They should spend the money on reducing class sizes instead.””Sounds more like Stan than Becky. Is IMFlash going to run the Governor’s office too if she’s elected?”

“If economic development is such a vital goal and I think it is, this may be the single most effective thing we can do to foster long term growth. Besides it will help these kids when they enter the work force. $300 million is a small price for the value of the outcome.”

“Speaker Lockhart spent a year leading the Legislative Task Force on Education, and the Task Force’s final report didn’t seem to mention the need for $300 million dollars for technology. It did mention many other needs though. Why go through all of those meetings, hearings, and study to come up with a plan that everyone agreed on, and then pull something like this out of the blue?”

“Throwing technology at education is no better than throwing money at education. We don’t necessarily need more computer hardware. We need software that allows students to work at their own pace, to be tested once they’ve completed a topic, and prompts a teacher to intervene when a student is falling behind or has performed poorly on a test.”