Education Opinion

Where is the stimulus to innovate our education system?

By LeaderTalk Contributor — August 05, 2009 2 min read
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In today’s tumultuous economy, we can hardly go a week
without hearing of economic stimulus. We hear about the
Cash for Clunkers bill, U.S. bank bailouts, and corporate bonuses. The U.S.
government even started a website called
recovery.gov where a user can play with an interactive map to see where
money was invested, peruse inspection reports, and explore tracking of funds.

For better or
worse, it is fascinating to watch how the government has been when
trying to address, deal with, and solve the crisis. Imagine if we, as a
society, had this same sense of urgency about our education system.
What types of stimulus efforts could be imagined and implemented if folks
realized the crisis of the American education system? Here are some of my
proposed bills:

  • Create a set of pilot schools whose charge it is implement
    innovative uses of handheld devices like the i-Touch.

  • Create a set of pilot schools where no websites are censored. This
    involves a educating students on finding appropriate sites and effective
    searching skills. Perhaps if hard research were available schools would realize
    how off the mark they are with blocking websites. (I know, imaging a world where
    kids can really access information at schools that is freely available to the
    rest of society.)

  • Create a set of pilot schools to implement innovative uses of
    basic cell phones in schools. An easy idea is using the cell phone as a student
    response system. Sure some teachers are doing great things with this technology,
    but it is not widely accepted.

  • Start a cash for
    clunker computers programs where schools get a rebate for
    turning in old, outdated computers for the purchase of new, powerful computers.
    The computers could be recycled to less fortunate families if they met minimum

  • Every school is allocated a technology coordinator for at least 2
    years. This person would help teachers incorporated technology into their classes.

  • Provide funds where every superintendent and principal engages in
    professional development about technology, 21st Century skills, and global
    education. Perhaps a stellar set of online courses could be developed with the
    assistance of the best minds in the country and the world.

  • Provide funds
    for educational games that engage students. This idea is based on Scott
    McLeod’s blog post titled
    Do most educational games suck?

  • Support and build on grassroots educational stimulus projects.
    There are so many interesting stories about
    grassroots economic stimulus projects. My favorites includes the
    3/50 Project and the
    10% Shift. What if every community business gave back 1% of their sales to
    schools and/or educational initiatives? What if community members donated 2
    hours a month to local schools and local school initiatives? What if we, as a
    society, made concerted efforts to give back to the education system?

I am sure there are tons of innovative ideas out there that
need a ‘stimulus’ to get off the ground. How bad do U.S. schools need to fail to
convince the government that our education system is in a recession? Do we need
to wait until an entire generation of students graduate without the necessary
skills and dispositions to contribute to a knowledge and innovation society?
What will be education’s stimulus to innovate?

Jayson Richardson

University of North Carolina Wilmington

The opinions expressed in LeaderTalk are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.