“Public school students and families need access to computers and technology. This is the Twenty-first Century. Our kids should be learning with laptops or tablets. Of all the money that will go to the Department of Education, this $3 million for laptops or tablets will have the greatest and most direct impact on learning and achievement. I can’t wait for the day the kids get these computers.” — Governor Eddie Baza Calvo
$3M from Compact Funding to Purchase or Lease Laptops or Tablets
Thousands of public school students may soon have laptops or tablets they can use at school and home. The Governor is including a $3 million earmark to purchase or lease these devices for students in his Fiscal Year 2014 request for use of Compact Impact funds.
Devices to Align to Curriculum, Standards; Improve Achievement
The funding will go to the Department of Education to decide how best to proceed. The Governor is confident Superintendent Jon Fernandez and his deputies will solicit bids for the greatest number of computers with software that is aligned to the Common Core. This is the new set of higher standards that 45 states, the District of Columbia, and four other territories have adopted as the country strives to regain its competitive edge against other nations.
The Common Core is an unprecedented initiative, as it is the first time the United States has been able to rely on uniform curricular standards. As a result, companies and education consortia have been able to write and program curriculum that is completely aligned to these standards. These programs can easily be uploaded to laptops or tablets for students, bringing the correct instructional materials to students and teachers quickly.
Part of the Overall Picture; Recommendation by Education Task Force
DOE is working feverishly to ‘unpackage’ the Common Core, providing essential training to teachers and administrators. Teachers recently received laptops to assist them to teach. The challenge now is to give students access to laptops or tablets as well. This initiative was one of Governor Calvo and Lt. Governor Tenorio’s campaign promises, and also is one of the recommendations for education reform by the Governor’s education task force.
Funding Is Initial Investment, Should Include Software & Training
The $3 million will probably not be enough to purchase or lease devices for all 31,000 public school students, however the initial investment can be piloted in several schools. That decision will be left to DOE on how to best implement use. The funding also should cover needed software and training for teachers.
Allow Students to Take Devices Home?
DOE also will need to implement rules and protocol for the use and security of the devices. Governor Calvo hopes the department allows the students to take the devices home to complete their work, engage in learning beyond the classroom, and give access to technology to their families.
Education districts throughout the country, including our neighbors in the Northern Marianas, have entered the digital age of education, using technology to increase achievement. It should be noted that school districts with the fewest restrictions on the use of laptops or tablets reported lower incidence of loss and breakage than other districts with more restrictions.
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