The Internet And Secondary Education Essay

3508 words - 14 pages

The Internet and Secondary Education

With the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the federal government has made available in the 2002 fiscal year through Title I and Title VI funding a total of $43,554,000,000.00 to be used to purchase technology-based products and services. (“United States Department of Education Funds,” 2002) Furthermore, according to Edgemedia, the Senate has earmarked an additional 250 billion dollars for education over the next ten years - monies which are specifically targeted toward purchasing various kinds of educational technology and addressing technology-related concerns (Schneiderman, 2001). The funding allotted to the Bush administration’s ESEA, which is best known to the public as “No Child Left Behind,” clearly demonstrates the importance the current and the previous administrations, the tech sector, the media (and thus the majority of the voting public) place on incorporating technology into education. The benefits of these education initiatives to the tech industry are obvious; there’s going to be LOTS of money available to purchase education technology, some of which hasn’t even been developed yet, but the actual benefits to education are much less obvious when the sound-byte rhetoric is examined in real-world classrooms. Exactly how technology will be or should be used in elementary and secondary classrooms, what it is capable of accomplishing, and whether or not it can help achieve what everyone thinks they want it to achieve are questions that lack sufficient concrete data linking cyberspace and related technology to student achievement (“The Role of Technology,” 2000). Even though the great-and-powerful Oz of technology has spoken, whether or not he can - or should - deliver has yet to be seen.

Though I have recently brought the Internet into my home, my life in cyberspace has been primarily experienced through my work as a middle school English teacher. When I began teaching in 1991, computer labs were used to teach a few high school students basic programming skills. These labs were mostly off-limits to middle school teachers, and computers were all but non-existent in the school libraries. The boom in government funding of technological incentives that began in the mid 1990’s gave school districts access to cyberspace via the Internet, and that has made a sudden and tremendous impact on American elementary and secondary education. According to Empower America’s Jason Bertsch in his March, 2000 testimony to the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families, public school access to the Internet increased from 35% in 1994 to 95% in 1999. He further noted that between 1998 and 1999 the ratio of students to computers dropped from 12:1 to 9:1 in that year alone. (“The Role of Technology,” 2000, p.1). This represents a huge shift in school funding and focus and the reasons for such dramatic change are largely fear-driven. Americans are inundated with media...

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