Last week, I posted, on the Technology & Learning Blog, a fictitious letter from a principal to the parents of his school’s students. A copy of the letter is attached below. The letter received a good bit of response, not only from readers, but also a follow-up letter from my friend and fellow T&L Blogerati, Dave Jakes. Today, I posted my follow-up. Read it at The Conversation Continues, and It’s Yours
[Originally posted on TechLearning Blog on January 23, 2006 — link]
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for all that you have done to support our school in it’s endeavors to accomplish our mission. Your services as a volunteer, membership in the PTO, and attendance at parent conferences and our open house are all greatly appreciated.
As the principal of your child’s school and the administrative representative of your school district, state, and national education system, I also want to offer my sincerest apologies. We are failing to achieve our mission, and your child’s future is in jeopardy.
We live in a world of rapid change, yet what and how our school teaches our children has not adjusted to the challenges and opportunities of the future. Technological advances, the changing nature of information, new occupations and styles of work, and emerging scientific discoveries and capabilities will all demand new skills and knowledge that, regrettably, are not being taught to our students.
Your child is learning to read. Test scores indicate that 95% of our students are reading at or above grade level. However, I can not assure that your child has been taught to conduct effective research on the Internet; to analyze and synthesize the multimedia content that is increasingly a part of our everyday lives; to evaluate information for accuracy, reliability, and validity; nor how to organize information into valuable knowledge. Each of these skills is as critical today as the ability to read in an information-rich technology-driven world.
Our math scores are among the best in the state. Yet the basic computation skills that your child is learning to perform on paper do little to prepare for the real world problems that require processing and analysis of thousands of numbers, nor do they address the necessary skills to work the full range of digital information.
Your child is receiving the best writing instruction in the region, but our children are not being taught to communicate. The future will demand people who can express themselves effectively with images, animation, sound, and video, but our students are not learning these skills in our school. Character education remains one of the major focuses here, but we are doing little to understand and teach about the new ethics of information.
There is no excuse for the degree to which we are failing your child. But the reasons are many. Nearly half of my teachers graduated from college before the desktop computer was invented. They have little opportunity and even less time for staff development. Even though there are computers in each classroom, their numbers dwindle as we have insufficient technical staff to repair machines that have failed, and our technology budgets have been cut. The state and federal governments demand better test scores every year, but do nothing to fund it or to support the teaching of deeper information skills that we know will be critical to success in the future.
Even though my school wears the banners of success, your child is not being prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the future. For this, I am deeply sorry. Our education system gives us no reason to change. It is only for the sake of our children, and that seems not to be enough.
If you want more from your child’s school, ask for it — from the highest mountain and with the loudest voice.
I look forward to seeing you at next month’s PTO meeting.