School system overstepping with tech plan

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” Simple translation means that when our government oversteps their bounds, we have a right and obligation to say NO!
I was deeply saddened when I attended my daughter’s open house to meet her new teacher for this coming school year to learn the school system had fired most of its teacher assistants.
You see, our school system made the decision to spend $12 million of our taxpayer money to purchase laptops and iPads. How many teacher assistants do you think that could pay for? Our students do not need a computer to interact with. What good is a laptop or iPad if that student cannot read? As the Post reported recently, our students in K-3rd grade read at a 33 percent level. Which is horrible. Also, can you imagine a single teacher with say 20-plus students in her class trying to get everyone on the same program and place in an app on their laptop or iPad before proceeding with class? How much valuable instruction time is going to be wasted? A teacher assistant sure would help with this, but more importantly, studies have shown that students react and learn better with a teacher instructing and helping even more so with one on one time. Our best assets for our children are our teachers and the assistants who help them.
Our school system is getting rid of the one thing that has been proven to greatly help our children in learning and trying to replace them with a laptop or iPad that I do not need nor do I want. Our teachers need time to teach with one on one interaction in the early grades. As recently as 20 years ago, the United States was ranked No. 1 in high school education. In 2009, the United States was ranked 18th out of 36 industrialized nations. Over that time, complacency and inefficiency, reflective of lower priorities in education, and inconsistencies among the various school systems have contributed to a decline. This digital initiative is another example of inefficiency.
There are many wasted resources within our school system, and this program is going to be another example. We need to be giving our teachers incentives to teach and be the best at what they do. They need all the help we can possibly give them. Our children are our future, and I’m afraid our decline in the educational rankings will continue if we continue to get rid of teachers, increase class sizes, and rely on the internet to do most of the teaching. We did not have these wonderful toys 20 years ago, yet we were the smartest nation in the world. Mistakes are being made, and we need to take a look at our past and learn from it.
I opened this letter with the Tenth Amendment to our Constitution. Our government has overstepped their bounds and spent $12 million of our taxpayer money on a bet that may or may not pay off. They spent this money without our consent and are then turning around asking you to pay money to insure this product and pay for educational training on the product. I am asking anyone who is reading this to pass this letter on and also inform your school and your school board representative that you will not be paying any additional money for these products that they are leasing. They cannot force you to pay for their irresponsible behavior.
We need more teachers and more teacher assistants. What is one teacher assistant per eight classrooms going to accomplish? We need smaller class sizes. Tell them to pay our teachers better and bring the teacher assistants back. Stand up for your children and speak out. It costs nothing to speak out, but remaining silent could cost our children everything!
Wes Rhinier lives in Salisbury.