Staying afloat—and on course!

Posted by Tim Landeck on July 16, 2009

Queen Mary 2
Queen Mary 2

Times are hard.  According to a recent report, 48 of the 50 states are grappling with $166 billion in budget deficits for the coming year.  California’s share of that is at least $26 billion.  Districts are cutting librarians, music programs, sports, counselors, assistant principals, nurses, buses, and increasingly, teachers.  In California alone, over 26,000 teachers received pink slips this past spring.  With all of these cuts, how can the cost of supporting the technology infrastructure be justified?

Times may be hard, but times have also changed.  Today’s school district is nothing like it was 10 years ago.  In our district, for example, all of our computers are connected to the network and use the network to function.  People are saving and retrieving files constantly; network servers are hosting the programs that we access for student software, financial records, attendance, assessment, payroll—you name it, technology handles it.

Today it is virtually impossible for an office worker to accomplish anything without the use of a functioning, network-connected computer.  If the network connection goes down, it’s time to take an early lunch.  Imagine a bank today without access to its network.  It is the same in a typical school district office: everything comes to a screeching halt when the network goes down.

How can we not fund the positions that keep this technology functioning?  Is it realistic to think we can just hope the technology keeps working long enough to ride out the tough times?  I don’t think so.  I liken technology support to an ocean liner.  Cut the engines and for awhile, the ship will keep pointing in the right direction and moving quite quickly.  All too soon, however, even the QM2 will find itself adrift and out of control.

Let’s insist that technology in the schools be a high priority as we struggle to keep the engines running and our educational enterprise on course.