Last night I put my money where my mouth is and applied for a Technology Director job in a small school district in rural Texas.

It seems to me that the leverage points are going to be where people are really anxious to change and are willing to actually do something to make it happen. What I run into mostly is people who want to do the same silly stuff but get different outcomes. My goal is to take my 40 years of experience with technology and my 10 years experience with education and try to make a difference in a small, rural, poor school district.

Now, the questions are still there
- Do they even want change?
- Are they interested in hiring a PhD?
- Will they be willing to accept skill, knowledge, and education in lieu of a "valid Texas teaching certificate"?
- How far are they willing to go to become a model district?
- Do my ideas have any merit?

I looked at the district's NCLB report card. They're in the 80% range but the bottom group appears to be well down still, so there looks like there may be some room for leverage. I can only find one year's worth of data so I can't really tell what the trends look like. Like most districts they're probably celebrating on the upticks and beating themselves on the down ticks -- just like they had any control of them.

I'll let ya know how it works out.

Views: 40

Comment by Dave Ehrhart on April 7, 2007 at 5:15am
Our district provides great technical and instructional assistance to teachers. It has been an evolutionary process with a few bumps in the road. So as a Technology Director what do you think your biggest challenge will be when dealing with the faculty?
Comment by nlowell on April 7, 2007 at 7:29am
I'm imagining that I'll run into the normal stuff:

- "What about the test??"
- "I already work 10 hrs a day!"
- "Show me the research...!"

From the Administration I expect:

- "We don't have the money!"
- "You want us to UNBLOCK!??!"
- "You can't let kids do *that*!"
- "You can't expect teachers to do this!"

Thinking about this in the abstract, and mapping a plan out in my head (in the absence of any real information):

- Link up the teachers. Give them each a cheap USB drive with portable apps on them so that as they move around from home to school and classroom to classroom, they'll have their stuff with them -- including IM ability among themselves and the administration.

- Deal with district level internet access policies. I've looked at the school board policies page and also the relevant statutes. There's room there to negotiate. The law says you need to protect kids from harm. But as with any law, there's a balance and if I can get a blocking policy in place that, at least initially, allows *adults* to have access, then we can deal with how to get access to kids.

- Wean them from the Microsoft Tax. Skip a generation of hardware upgrades by pulling all the Microsoft operating systems and replacing them with Linux. The money saved could be used for infrastructure improvements and teacher training.

That's my first year goal. Eventually, I'd want to give one of the USB keys to every student as well. There's about 2000 kids in the district and every one of them should be able to keep their digital work with them as they move around. I can't see providing them with laptops, but if I can at least give them the wherewithal to carry the tools and content with them, that'll be a huge step forward.
Comment by nlowell on April 9, 2007 at 7:51am
I heard from the district this morning.

"No thanks."

So it goes.


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