ISTE has become my new favorite organization to be a part of and my first conference of choice. It speaks to me as a teacher who works hard to integrate technology into my daily practice. I’m able to personalize learning from my students, meeting them where they are in their learning, and help them grow as learners throughout the school year.
I had the pleasure of hearing Richard Culatta (@rec54), new ISTE CEO, speak while at #ISTE17. His main topic was around equity in education. As an educator who has mainly worked in Title I and other high needs schools, this resonated with me. Equity is always on my mind, especially with the deep education funding cuts and/or lack of education funding in New Mexico.
Although he spoke of many things, such as access expertise, personalized learning and overcoming languages and disabilities, what struck me most was access to high quality teaching materials. We have a high lack of access to high quality teaching materials as a whole in New Mexico. It is hard to fund education when the governor is against all new taxes, or when superintendents make decisions to benefit adults over children, and when almost half the population is on some sort of government assistance just to survive.
This ideal of access to high quality teaching materials really hit as I walked around the Expo Center. There were all sorts of gadgets, software, and hardware—almost nirvana for an educator who believes technology is a key tool in learning. But, neither I, nor my school, can afford 99% of what was being offered. Licensed software/web programs were usually around $10 per student ($4,200 for my school) to upwards of $10,000 or more for an interactive smart board. I mean really, what school/district can really afford these learning tools.
What educator can justify a $10,000 expenditure when his/her school has 100% of its population receiving free lunches, no access to healthcare, and are in need of new clothes. Which do you think will get any extra available funds?
I’m not upset with ISTE for who is in the Expo Hall. The organization needs to generate income to offset conference and other costs. It is the nature of doing business.
However, I do wonder what and how, if Mr. Culatta truly believes in equity in education, he is going to help offset this large imbalance in equity for students across our great nation? How will he help ensure that a student attending a school in rural New Mexico has the same access to materials and expertise as a student attending an affluent school in Boston or New York, or even Albuquerque?
How is he going to help us educators to overcome inequity in education so that a students’ zip code does not determine his/her graduation rate?
I invite you to join me in watching to see how Mr. Culatta helps us effect change.
I’m ready to help…are you?