Dear President Obama & staff:
Thank you for engaging with the American public directly. As two Moms in Spokane, we appreciate the opportunity to ask you if you could please help us champion that any revision to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act include a certified teacher-librarian trained in technology integration*, 1:1, and broadband for all American children.
Can you please pass this request to Secretary Duncan?
At the root of this request is the belief that all kids deserve to be effective users and producers of ideas and information. Unless the federal government commits to both a vision and the funding to make this happen, some U.S. children will continue to be information poor while others are information rich. Only some U.S. children will have access to tools & technology while others will remain marginalized.
In a small, rural Washington district a part-time janitor serves as the high school ‘librarian’, and in Bellevue WA (home to Bill Gates), budget cuts caused the district last year to cut the secondary librarian staff altogether. Bellevue is not alone; from Indianapolis to Detroit, from CA to NY, library programs are hemorrhaging. Only a small fraction of U.S. communities (like the tiny Van Meter, IA) can make 1:1 and wireless for all a reality, while many American children are left to prepare themselves for careers, college and life with out-dated tools and resources.
A federal policy that would convert existing school libraries into 21st Century Library Information & Technology Centers, led by a certified teacher-librarian trained in technology integration, would level the playing field for our teachers and learners. If our country went 1:1, every American child could receive a virtual portfolio space at the same time they’re assigned a desk on their first day of school. The portfolio would not only serve as an archive of their work for college admissions and employment, it could prove to be an incredibly effective safety net to catch children that are struggling.
Lastly, our school districts need more robust and equitable funding for educational technology; depending on local levies for this is unfair to our children considering, honestly, the changed information landscape and the economic disparities that exist between communities. Increased investment in professional development that equips administrators, teachers and librarians to master emerging technologies is essential.
A 21st Century Library Information & Technology Center would support all literacies — classical and emerging. It would also allow our students to be designers, creators and producers leveraging their own independent thinking.
Thank you for providing the recent life support for so many schools around this country with the federal stimulus dollars. Our education infrastructure and architecture have been buoyed, but it is with crossed fingers that we imagine great vision and a significant investment that will truly transform education, bringing it out of the 20th Century into a new era.
Lisa Layera & Susan McBurney, 2 Moms in Spokane
*New funding that directly funds training in emerging technologies is desperately needed on the ground! Peer coaching in Technology Integration would allow the investment to be passed on to students, administrators, teachers, parents and even the community.