THE STATE OF COLORADO EDUCATION: Rural Schools Face Technology Gap

Article excerpt

A roller coaster dirt road leads to this rural school 26 miles south of Colorado Springs. Hawks fly overhead. Occasionally students ride to school on horseback, and an inquisitive goat tries to get in the building.

Parents and teachers like the small classes. Some have fewer than 15 students. What they wish they had more of, they say, is technology. It's hard to come by on a small budget. And it's a big worry because state assessment tests soon will be conducted online.

"We have been upgrading our labs, and are saving pennies and nickles. We will need a lot of computers," says Superintendent Paul McCarty. "We could bring a lot more 21st-century excitement if we had more technology."

Fifth-grade teacher Dale Carpenter wishes he had a whiteboard. He uses a feather quill with red ink to correct papers - not as a statement about the lack of technology, but as something fun for the kids - they're fascinated by this relic.

The students grade each other's papers, and the class is small enough that he can look at the papers and explain mistakes as students line up at his desk. The technique helps his learn what he needs to teach the next day. When a paper is exemplary, he reaches into a bag and gives the student a penny for the classroom Hot Tamales machine.

The classroom doesn't have all the bells and whistles, "but the kids will know their decimals.," he says. "It all comes down to what they learn, not how."

Two boys are sitting on a couch, an honor bestowed on those who did well on a lesson. They are writing in cursive, which not many schools teach anymore. …