Maybe the most dangerous game to play as an educator is the "what will happen next year" one. There are too many variables! And I'm not talking about budget, teaching assignments, the closing of schools or shifting of student populations. I'm talking about the future in general. What direction is education going, and where will it end up?
It does seem clear, in the current political climate and economy, that the schools will continue to be asked to do more with less. It's hard to picture a scenario where the federal government, the state, or our community will suddenly say, "We would like to present you with a bucket of money."
So what are we going to be doing? The Mooresville Graded School District in North Carolina may have one solution. The school district has adopted a policy of one laptop for every student. Since they instituted the program three years ago, their graduation rate rose from 80% to 91%, the number of students achieving proficiency in math, reading and science rose from 73% to 88%, and attendance is up while dropouts are down. As reported in the New York Times, the district is ranked 100th of 115 districts in term of per-student spending, but it is third in the state for test scores and second for graduation rates.
To make the shift to a laptop driven environment, the disctrict cut sixty-five jobs, including thirty-five teachers and increased the number of students per teacher, but they also shifted their entire teaching paradigm. The interconnectivity allows the teachers to interact with more students while shifting classrooms away from group instruction and toward small group and individual efforts.
Mark Edwards, the district's superintendent said, "This is not about the technology. It’s not about the box. It’s about changing the culture of instruction — preparing students for their future, not our past.”
I don't know if that is the direction schools will go, but it is a sign that things are changing and continuing to change. I wouldn't bet more money than I'm willing to lose on what our schools will look like in ten years, but I am willing to bet they won't look exactly like what we have now.