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October 27, 2006

Comments

Scott McLeod

Marion, as usual your points are superb. That said, there' also nothing preventing the people of Michigan, through their state legislators, from changing the school funding status quo. I, for one, think it would be interesting to see what school districts would do if they just got one lump sum of money without restrictions on how to spend it. Would we see more innovative delvery models? I'm guessing so. Would we also see a greater increase in dumb-headed decisions? Yes, we'd probably see that too. That may be risk we have to take, though.

The rest of society is undergoing massive transformations, not incremental changes, as a result of digital technologies. It's been said before, but if we were designing an educational system (or educational funding system) from scratch, would it look anything like what we have now? I think we need to be willing to put more of the status quo back on the table for reconsideration.

Leslie Wilson

I was surpised by David Warlick’s comments expressing a preference for media specialists/librarians over one to one personal/portable teaching and learning (aka ‘laptop’ initiatives) in schools. Why come at this as though it was a choice in deference of ’stuff’ over ‘people’? It wasn’t. Freedom to Learn is an education initiative NOT a technology initiative.

First, Michigan’s Freedom to Learn Program is a legislated program, federally and state funded. School employee positions (media specialists/librarians) are funded personnel decisions by a district’s school leaders. Michigan schools/districts ‘chose’ to apply for Freedom to Learn grant funds. Approximately 100 districts and 200 schools are ‘voluntarily’ part of the Freedom to Learn statewide community.

Second, a majority (unscientifically stated) of Freedom to Learn sites have media specialists and librarians who are highly engaged and effectively implementing their one to one learning environments. These schools did not choose a one to one initiative over specific personnel positions. Nor did state leaders recommend they do so. In fact, we have developed collaborative relationships with statewide media specialists. The MIchigan eLibrary, MeL, was involved in the development of the Freedom to Learn professional development framework from the inception of the program. MeL’s Suzanne Robinson sat on our PD Core Team for the duration of that committee’s work. MAME was represented on the commmittee as well. The media specialists’ engagement within this program has always been front and center.

Third, education must embrace the imperative of robust technology integration. David frequently advises this in his talks. One to one personal/portable teaching and learning is one avenue in pursuit of that goal. There are others. Michigan chose this path (Freedom to Learn) to champion a number of educational, economic, achievement and access goals.

That noted, as educators, we must hold as our goal to integrate and effectively connect education and technology programmatic advances. In this case, why not view Freedom to Learn through the lens of media specialists/librarians being leaders and implementers of these highly personal technology teaching and learning experiences? I can point you in the direction of many who would have much to share on topic. This is not an ‘either/or’ experience in Michigan. It is for our students, theirs and our futures.

Sherry McVay

Your response to Mr. Warlick's posting surely clears up the mis-conception about the correlation (or actually lack thereof) between the decrease in media specialists and the increase in technologies in Michigan schools. What surprises me is the original source. Isn't it MAME's mission to act as a "technological excellence" resource for educators in Michigan? Ian Jukes says "if an educator can be replaced by technology then they should be replaced". I know that we could never replace the media specialists in my district with any sort of technology. I have to assume that it is true in other districts as well. But if they and their professional organizations put this forth as a rationale for the dwindling numbers of media specialists, I believe they run the risk of alienating folks, not winning them over to the obvious benefits of maintaining their positions.

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