I have been a frequent critic of Race to the Top (RttT). To find out why, see here, and here. Now it seems I have even more reasons to dislike the federal boondoggle. This morning’s News & Observer details how school districts are using RttT money to, “put fancy computer gadgets into the hands of elementary school students who have had trouble learning.”
Great. As if student problems were a result of not having access to technology. Seventeen percent of each school district’s RttT grant is already set aside to help develop a statewide “cloud computing” network.
The N&O article continues:
Durham Public Schools will spend $3.5 million on Apple iPads for all student and teachers at two low-performing schools – W.G. Pearson Elementary and Lowes Grove Middle. A third school, Neal Middle will change its focus to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, which will cost $1 million.
Something doesn’t sound right. According to the Department of Public Instruction web site, enrollments for Pearson and Lowe’s Grove Middle School are 619 and 630 respectively. Let’s assume each school has about 40 teachers – a generous assessment. That’s approximately 1330 computers. Apple iPads are selling for $500. The cost to outfit both schools: $664,500.
One of RttT’s biggest initiatives is to provide resources and staff to turnaround low performing schools. And a good number of North Carolina school districts will be using RttT money to help improve low performaing schools. What’s curious is the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has had a School Turnaround Office for years. It has a staff of 30 plus and is charged with nearly the exact same responsibilities. .. So will one of these offices be closing?
You can’t make this up.