Wi-Fi Sigh

"In a country where we demand free wi-fi with our coffee, we should certainly demand it in our schools."
                                                                                      -Barrack Obama

Does he realize that most students don't even drink coffee?

Not really funny, but when it comes to education reform, wi-fi in schools is hardly a priority, though the folks at OFA who run Obama's Twitter account seem to want #Connected to trend today, so they are touting some of the president's ideas. In addition to the wi-fi, they want paid more funding for expanded pre-K.

In a normal school though the high school level, I don't see what difference Wi-Fi would make to education. Most classes at those levels do not require a bunch of research, and the students should be learning how to conduct research using print media anyway. Teach them the basic research skills before expanding.

This is not to say that wi-fi and expanded internet access cannot be helpful to education, but to deem it a necessity, or even a priority, is a mistake. Yes Google and even Wikipedia can be great research tools, but honestly, the biggest use student would get out of wi-fi would be the ability to update their Facebook status without biting into the data allotment on their calling plan.

The expanded pre-K plan has its own problems. Any educational benefits from pre-K disappear after just a few years, meaning that, by the time they reach third or fourth grade, children who attend pre-K do not seem to perform better than students who did not attend pre-K. With this in mind, is it really a good use of public funds to expand a program with very little, if any real benefit?

There are reforms that can be encouraged that would help education, but for some reason the president does not seem to be as interested in them. I am not going to say definitively that the reason is the NEA, but I am not going to discourage anybody from inferring it. One basic reform is encouraging school choice through voucher or alternate funding programs. While Oliver Brown might have sued the Topeka Board of Education to allow his daughter to attend the nearest school, today many parents see better opportunities in schools that might not be right around the corner. They should be allowed to place their children in the schools that best suit their preferences.

Basically, I want to see whatever money we do spend on education to make a difference for out students. Wi-fi might be a nice for schools to have, but it is not necessary, and should not be a spending priority.

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