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January 29, 2013 > Letter to the Editor: Race to the Top funds could be better used

Letter to the Editor: Race to the Top funds could be better used

My joy turned to disappointment, when I found out that our future grant is to buy lap tops or I-pads for each student. Although technology can be used to solve many of our current problems, it is not the panacea and more often than not only worsens a situation.

I see two underlying problems using technology this way in schools: students are unable to appreciate its value and, instead of stimulating their brains, it might just add to the distractions.

Even regular consumers, paying for goods, cannot see true value because of all the costs involved, externalized costs in particular (costs not totally absorbed according to "Story of Stuff": pollution, outsourced jobs at different rates in different countries, subsidized transportation, waste, etc.); how can students see it? Recently, an email from an administrator, asked us to supervise our computer lab more closely, due to keyboard deterioration due to vandalism.

I am for technology when used wisely. There is plenty of information that can improve Foreign Language instruction with enough LCD projectors in every classroom. Cameras in cell phones are a good savings resource but nevertheless, students cannot follow a lesson if they decide to text, on and off, during entire periods.

Entertainment at home through electronics can be a good learning tool but it should not replace physical activity or problem solving on a regular basis. Has the objective of education turned into merely keeping up with entertainment?

Are we using I-pads to seriously address the problem of updating huge textbooks or just as an aid to sell gadgets? The urgency of saving paper from textbooks pales in comparison to the trash created every school lunch with disposables. And the postal service intends to increase junk mail to survive!

At this pace, teachers will soon be unnecessary but, why wait? Since remote education can solve everything, we can eliminate schools altogether, and students will never have to leave home! Furthermore, let's just go straight to the dystopian society from "The Matrix" because we are already bored with the one of "The Hunger Games." Is there any hope?

School objectives need to be reevaluated. While there were scarce means of communication in the old days, a system of education had to be created to spread knowledge to the masses but, climate change now posses a major challenge leaving little or no viable alternatives for future generations if we continue "educating" them this way.

Our system of education needs to be reformed because students graduate from high school completely disconnected from the value of labor. Technology and theory are given too much prominence, removing the importance of production; this type of instruction increases the chasm between laborers and intellectuals.

Instead, everybody should be familiar with trades. We need to incorporate trades throughout all levels of education: toddlers and, kids from elementary school level, growing community gardens; mid school teens, cooking and preserving foods while raising small animals; high school students fabricating ceramics, clothing and shoe wear without electricity; community college students performing jobs within organic self sustaining farms, where "retired" senior citizens have the choice to reside and administrate.

And finally, a natural breastfeeding program should be created. A nurturing and inviting space must be designed within day care centers, and law providing a six month break option dedicated to adapting the newborn and mother, in stages, to increasing separation if the mother returns to a full time job.

Not only newborn immune systems would benefit but, nutritional and emotional needs in mothers and babies could be met while partnering with other women in the same stage of life. Mothers can remain productive, aiding in the care of other infants within the same facilities. If women can be rescued from abusive environments, kids will have more opportunities to succeed in life.

Adriana Saavedra
Union City

"Every student, every trade"

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