Every student has a chance to be tech literate


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At a press conference Tuesday, Iowa City School District Superintendent Steve Murley, together with the CEOs of ACT and Integrated DNA Technologies, announced a new fundraising project designed to update local classrooms.

The School District Foundation — a nonprofit organization devoted to raising supplementary funds for the district — has committed to raise $2 million to upgrade the technological capacity of local classrooms.

The new EveryClassroom project seeks to retrofit Iowa City’s classrooms with new SMART Board touch-screen white boards, document cameras, and multimedia projectors. Roughly 25 percent of the $2 million to be raised will be spent on training for teachers to ensure that they can use the new equipment effectively.

Given the substantial evidence that better technology in the classroom improves student performance, we support the School District Foundation’s project. Its contribution to the local school system is crucial in light of the questions surrounding the annual growth rate of Iowa’s education funding.

While the state hammers out its education-reform plan, the School District Foundation has chosen to step in with a plan of its own, based on policy with a proven track record of success.

According to the e-book Revolutionizing Education Through Technology, published by Project RED, an organization devoted to overhauling the American education system, schools that upgrade their technological capacities experience an increase in student test scores and decreases in disciplinary and dropout rate.

The Project RED report noted that, generally, investments in technology are most effective when they allow students access to the new technologies every day and when teachers receive adequate training on the new equipment. The EveryClassroom project satisfies both of these requirements.

We applaud the School District Foundation for pledging to bring a great deal of new funding to our schools; we believe that new equipment in the classroom will lead to better, more interactive, and more efficient learning environments. We also call on government officials at every level to allocate additional education funds toward the deployment of such technologies as laptops and tablet computers for public-school students.

Increased investment in technology in schools across the country would be invaluable to a generation of students for whom the ability to use computers will be as vital as the ability to read or write. This is especially true for underprivileged students who may not have access to such technologies at home.

According to the School District’s annual report, the number of local students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch has increased by 13 percentage points since 2001 — from approximately 27 percent to 40.1 percent.

The EveryClassroom project is a wonderful way to begin updating our schools, but there is still more that must be done to make sure that every student has a chance to be technologically literate.

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