Someone recently sent me the following quote from a school administrator
(regarding legal concerns related to technology initiatives):
The school district is legally obligated to protect our students
from the outside. It is not legally obligated to prepare them
for the outside.
On its face, this statement gives precedence to legal concerns over whatever
moral, professional, and/or ethical responsibilities schools have to prepare
students for their future. This statement elevates CYA thinking over social
justice concerns about technology
access/usage and workforce
preparation for disadvantaged students. This statement is reactive, not
proactive, at a time when we desperately need forward-thinking school leaders.
Since when did schools not have a legal and societal mandate to provide an
adequate education for students? As
Kagan notes, every state’s constitution requires the state to provide its
children with an ‘adequate’ education. Every community expects its local schools
to prepare kids to be competent, functional adults in American society. How well
do you think the ‘we don’t have a legal obligation to prepare your children
for the world’ argument is going to play with parents and politicians?
We can reasonably disagree about the qualitative definition of what
constitutes an ‘adequate education’ (e.g., we’ve seen this play out in both the
funding and special
education arenas). But as people become increasingly aware that the Internet
and digital technologies are necessary requirements for most adults’ productive
lives and careers, this administrator’s statement that technology doesn’t fall
under schools’ legally-required mandate to provide an adequate education for
students is going to become increasingly unpalatable.