Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Public Isn't Buying Substandard Technology As Big Problem For Schools

From the Times-Union/Siena poll:

Almost three-quarters, 71 percent, said the biggest problem facing schools is lack of parental involvement in a child's progress, followed by bullying and poor behavior, 69 percent each, and hiring and retaining effective teachers, 61 percent.

One of the least significant problems, respondents said, is substandard technology and facilities: Only 40 percent cited the lack of computers and other high-tech learning tools, with 30 percent worried about the condition of school buildings.

Those numbers are notable in part because New Yorkers in November will vote on a $2 billion state bond issue, proposed by Cuomo, to fund new school technology and infrastructure.

Back in April, Cuomo appointed another one of his famous commissions to try and sell the public on a $2 billion bond act to improve technology in schools:

Though voters are yet to consider a $2 billion bond act for education infrastructure and technology upgrades at New York schools, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday named a commission that would provide recommendations on how best to spend the money.

Included on the commission is Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman and former CEO of Google, a company that is best known for its search engine, but has also entered the laptop and tablet computer market in recent years.

In addition, Cuomo is also turning to Harlem Children’s Zone President and CEO Geoffrey Canada and Constance Evelyn, Superintendent of the Auburn School District in Cayuga County.

“It is a simple fact that disparity remains in our education system, with some schools providing tablets in the first grade and others where the most sophisticated piece of electronic equipment is the metal detector that students walk through on the way to the classroom,” Cuomo said in a statement. “In the State of the State, we called for a $2 billion Smart Schools Initiative to transform our classrooms from the classrooms of yesterday to the classrooms of tomorrow. This panel will help guide this bold initiative and reimagine our classrooms to provide New York’s students with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century economy.”
The $2 billion borrowing proposal still has to be approved by voters, who are due to consider the ballot referendum this fall.

Cuomo proposed the bond act in January as way to improve technology in the classroom as well as potentially build more space for pre-Kindergarten programs.

As I wrote in April:

Gotta love that Cuomo thinks it's a big plus that some districts are giving tablets to first graders - that tells you everything you need to know about how Cuomo is looking to have this bond money spent.

Strike one.

That he stuck Canada on the commission is strike two and the Google CEO is strike three for me.

I am opposing the Smart Schools Initiative because it's clear Cuomo plans to use the money as a boondoggle for his tech buddies, not to build new schools or provide more classroom space for smaller class sizes.

You know what smart classrooms are?

They're ones where students have the adequate resources to learn, including computer and Internet technology when appropriate, but also enjoy small class sizes and personalized contact with their teachers.

This is not what Cuomo plans to use the money for, however.

Rather, he seems to envision this:

If the TU/Siena poll is any indication, Cuomo is going to have an uphill climb selling the $2 billion dollar Technology Boondoggle Bond Act he's trying to get the public to buy.


  1. This is the PARCC bond. It's how the governor will convince the public to pay for infrastructure, hardware & software for online tests. Look at L.A. I think they used a capital improvement fund to spend 1 billion dollars on ipads that will be obsolete in 3 years. It will be the same here if the bond gets passed, like taking out a mortgage to buy a computer. I hope the public realizes this and votes no.

    1. That's exactly right - I like that title too, the PARCC bond. Encapsulates what it is in two neat little words, one of which is a ridiculous acronym.