This week's story, "Teachers Resist High-Tech Push in Idaho Schools," featured a Post Falls dateline and quoted three teachers: Ann Rosenbaum of Post Falls High School, Doug StanWeins of Boise High and Stefani Cook at Rigby High.
Idaho Senate Finance Committee Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, also weighed in, telling the Times the legislature was “dazzled” by lobbyists for high-tech companies who gave to Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's 2010 re-election campaign.
"It’s almost as if it was written by the top technology providers in the nation," Cameron told the Times. "And you’d think students would be excited about getting a mobile device, but they’re saying: not at the expense of teachers."
In letters to the Times published Thursday, three readers echo those sentiments and critique the role of technology.
Wendy Turgeon teaches at St. Joseph's College in Patchogue, N.Y., and writes of a dramatic increase in technology use by students.
"Despite the ready access to these information-rich tools, our students come to college with weak attention skills and too often an active dislike of sustained reading," writes Turgeon. "Their knowledge base is far less than that of their parents and older siblings who lacked the ready access to technology."
University of Minnesota professor Michelle Mason adds: "In more than a decade of university teaching, I have never found reason to worry that a student lacked competency with computers or the Internet. But I have often had reason for concern that overreliance on e-mail, social media and the Internet have eroded students’ mastery of the language, stifled a facility for conversation and debate, and undermined their ability to identify and engage reliable sources of information and scholarship."
Robert Boyd of Staten Island, N.Y., salutes Rosenbaum and writes that "a computer cannot teach a student to think deeply."
Luna told the Times: “The role of the teacher definitely does change in the 21st century. There’s no doubt. The teacher does become the guide and the coach and the educator in the room helping students to move at their own pace.”
Revisions to the 2011 laws backed by Luna and Gov. Butch Otter are expected this session. Voters will also have a chance to repeal the laws in the Nov. 6 election.
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