Letter: Excited about Neary 1:1 iPad Pilot

by beth on October 25, 2013

[Ed note: My Southborough accepts signed letters to the editor submitted by Southborough residents. Letters may be emailed to mysouthborough@gmail.com.]

To the Editor:

I attended the Neary presentation by Tom Daccord on Tuesday evening and came away feeling very excited for the opportunities about to be afforded our children through the 1:1 pilot project.

One focus of Mr. Daccord’s presentation I found particularly exciting was the seemingly limitless ways of creative expression and problem solving that come with the use of this technology. By opening up more pathways to access information, comprehension and retention can only be enhanced for our children. How lucky they will be to be able to apply, instantly and directly, concepts introduced only moments before.

To be sure, the implementation of such a project will not come without problems. But few things worthwhile ever do. One parent commented to me after the presentation “What is the very worst thing that can happen if we try this and how great would it be on the upside if it did?”. The potential this has for truly helping our children to thrive in ways not possible in what may be considered a more traditional environment seems to outweigh any possible downside. There is certainly a significant financial component to this and I look forward to seeing how this is addressed in the information packet due tomorrow and in the discussions on Wednesday evening.

I want to express my gratitude to all who have devoted so much time, energy and effort to help develop this program. I believe our teachers, administrators and school committee members are talented, enthusiastic professionals who are taking great care to ensure our children benefit from the advantages available to this generation. The work our teachers have done over the past two years to develop this project is informed by their many years of working with our children in the classroom and determining the very best ways to reach them. I am grateful that our administrators have made the decision that the children in our schools will not fall behind.

Thank you,

Beth Sullivan

1 Dad October 25, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Beth [Sullivan], I personally agree with you on the potential of the program, but I believe that the burden is on the administration to demonstrate that the potential we see will actually be realized in the implementation. I have seen absolutely nothing from them or in my own personal research that shows that they technology is there yet. I also think it is important to see the side of the people who are against this and come up with compromises that can satisfy everyone. I have not seen any of the other side’s issues addressed either. Perhaps the pilot can be a class or two that is comprised of volunteers instead of the entire grade.

It’s easy to say whats the worst that can happen when the cost of the iPad is trivial to your fiances, but Southborough is very economically diverse, there are people in town that this cost will significantly impact no matter how it is paid for.

On top of cost, there are many families who are struggling with screen time on a daily basis. For better or worse, many kids do and many more would if their parents would let them, wake up in the morning to TV, get home from school and do nothing but TV/Video games/Computer etc. for the entire rest of the day. Allowing a child to have a tablet with them all day at school exacerbates this problem and undermines the message those parents who are limiting the use are trying to teach their children. I don’t believe the district should make this decision for the parents without proving a very thorough case for the benefits of the program and/or having some strict guidelines that are going to be followed.

Also, the next worse thing that can happen is that the quality of our children’s education actually decreases. It’s easy to blow this issue off, but I believe there is a real risk that the time used doing daily projects on the tablets may be better utilized in traditional teaching and the teachers may become preoccupied constantly trying to plan how to utilize the tablets that their traditional planning will get dropped. Our districts test scores are good but could be better and the risk of a decrease as result of such a major change is very real.

2 Neary Parent October 25, 2013 at 10:23 PM

Thank you Beth [Sullivan] – I 100% agree. I also agree with the hundreds of districts who DO believe the technology is “there” and the studies that show real, positive impacts.

As for kids who start, spend, and end each day with TV and video games, an educationally-focused iPad is not at fault now, and it wouldn’t be at fault in the future – that particular problem is a result of a family’s choices vis-a-vis limits. It is crystal clear in the materials – parents are in charge outside of school. We set the limits. If we don’t, it is not the school’s fault. It frustrates me to think that reasons like that are being used to rationalize denying this opportunity to the students who actually *could* learn to be responsible. (Which in my opinion is all students, if we adults are willing to put in the work to teach and guide them.) And to the teachers who have spent far more time researching, training, and preparing for this than any of the rest of us. We trust them to educate our children with current tools – why the sudden suspicion that they can’t handle it?

Last thing – no one’s concern’s are getting ignored. Questions are being answered. There are descriptions, links, details, and opportunities to ask more questions. Clearly not every parent will be happy with the final plan – our opinions are too divergent. But that does not mean concerns weren’t heard and addressed.

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