by Carole Hentschel
In this post, Carole Hentschel expresses concern about rampant expansion of the use of educational technology for young children. National Public Radio reported on the health risks for excessive screen time just this morning. For some, online learning is a solution to looming teacher shortages. For others, the real issue is one of educational quality. The truth is that all of these factors deserve close scrutiny. We cannot be alarmist; nor can we be complacent. We must be alert.
In Palm Beach County voters will say yes or no to the proposed one cent tax increase. Fifty percent, if approved, would go to education totaling $1,345,743,096 over a period of ten years. The sales tax proposed funded projects are to be divided into four categories: Facility Renewal Projects, School Buses & Support Vehicles, Construction Projects, and Technology Infrastructure Projects.
The fourth category, Technology Infrastructure would allocate $133,889,000 to Ed Tech or digital learning. That is a lot of tax revenue to spend without any guarantee or evidence of success for students. What is guaranteed is that data collected and held by Ed Tech suppliers is not always protected by FERPA, PPRA, and COPPA. The Future of Privacy Forum addressed great risks of data being hacked or stolen.
American Academy of Pediatrics is in the process of updating the recommended screen time allowance for children. “Three years ago the World Health Organization declared cell phones and other wireless radiation to be a possible human carcinogen, the same category as some pesticides, lead and engine exhausts. Since then evidence has mounted that such radiation can profoundly affect human biology, and altering brain metabolism. Before blanketing our preschools, kindergarten and middle schools with wireless radiation we need a full life-cycle assessment of economic and health costs and benefits of wireless technology.” Devra Davis PhD, MPH, President of the Environmental Health Trust, in her letter to President Obama April 2014.
I profoundly believe that all education committees throughout the state should continue studying Ed Tech and stay in close contact with their elected school board officials and all parent an teacher associations regarding the purchasing of Ed Tech in their respective districts. School Boards are at the mercy of vendors, no apt or program should be admitted for purchase unless it is scientifically approved and thoroughly vetted.
Parents Across America, a large national advocacy group, has issued a position paper on the use of educational technology in schools. You can read it here.