Magazine article Curriculum Administrator

Breaking Free of Excuses

Magazine article Curriculum Administrator

Breaking Free of Excuses

Article excerpt

A small, private school in Florida shows how determination, technology and a lot of E-rate help can transform learning.

So far we've explored some of the most obvious contours of the digital divide--carved by race, income and geography--factors that divide our nation on so many other fronts. This month, let's look at an aspect of the digital divide that's so pervasive, it can strike in any district, anytime. It can trip up a school that was once a technology pioneer and render inaccessible all its empowering technology tools.

I'm talking about the Can't Do attitude, which is expressed in the overwhelmed shrug educators sometimes give when asked about their vision of the future. It's the attitude that starts anytime a teacher lets another day go by before trying out that new computer, a technology coordinator opts for order over creativity, and a principal says, "Our kids aren't ready yet."

UNDERSTANDABLE, NOT ACCEPTABLE These are understandable reactions to the pressures educators endure to teach and prepare America's children for the future. But understandable doesn't mean acceptable. Once you see a school that's adopted a Can't Do attitude, you know other schools can follow. But at Little Flower School in Pensacola, Fla., there's a palpable sense of what all educators can do to assure technology access for every student. Little Flower is a resourceful place when you arrive in a torrential rainstorm and see jumbo school umbrellas outside of every classroom. They're shared by kids and teachers going about their rounds between the temporary buildings.

At first glance, the campus seems dominated by the Little Flower Catholic Church on the corner, the one that gives the school its name. But what happens inside the classrooms is worldly in all the best senses of the word. Every room has Internet access, and each teacher has an online gradebook and lesson planner. Students from K-8 pursuing research; publishing projects flow back and forth between the library and the computer lab. Parents get involved with home Internet service that connects them to the school and their children's teachers. The school is pilot-testing a Net-facilitated messaging system that allows staff to communicate with parents wherever they are, via every device from cell phone to pager to analog phone to PDA. …

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