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Wednesday
Feb012006

Technology enhanced schools

I've been in a bad mood lately. Since analyzing and writing about our district's technology successes and failures (Looking Back), reading various diatribes like David Warlick's Letter from a Principal, and experiencing some Seasonal Affective Disorder, I'm been in a real funk. But there is nothing like a little warm weather and request by the PR Department to pull one's socks and spirits up a little!

One thing I have always liked about working in the Mankato Schools is the feeling that I'm working for some damn smart people. The board and the superintendent always seem one step ahead of the curve. ( No, I'm not sucking up - I don't think anyone in Mankato reads this. Prophet without honor and all that.)

Hiring a PR Director a few years ago was a sign of those smarts.

Like it or not, education is a competitive business. As a parent living in Mankato, I have more places to send my children to school than I have of fast food restaurants. Other schools in our district, other schools in our area (open enrollment is state law in Minnesota), charter schools, great parochial schools, home schooling (no thank you), or online schools are all options I have for my kids. So when new folks move into our community, we want to make sure they make the right choice: enrolling kids in ISD77. Our board/administration figured this out long ago, so we share a very good PR department that we share with the City of Mankato. We do blow our own horn. We must if we are to attract students and the dollars that come with them. Period.

 Shelly, the PR Director, called the other day. She is revising our district's parental information booklet. "I think good technology would be a great draw to parents," says she. "I agree," says I. So below is a list of all the good tech stuff your children would benefit from should you, as a conscientious parent, send them to our schools:

 

 

 

Mankato Area Public Schools are technology enhanced!
Mankato Area Public School students:
  1. Have ready access to up-to-date computers in library media centers, computer labs and classrooms in all buildings. Computers are a on a 5-year replacement cycle.
  2. Have access to state-of-the-art computer technologies in the business and technology education departments.
  3. Are taught an articulated set computer and information literacy skills grades K-12 in both library and classroom units.
  4. Have district-provided e-mail accounts and online file storage for their personal work.
  5. Have access to a wireless Internet connection within all buildings so they can use their personal computing devices.
  6. Have access to the software and equipment needed to create multi-media projects – digital cameras, scanners, and video editing software.
  7. Have both home and school access to a full set of online resources including magazine databases, encyclopedias, and video libraries. All schools are connected by reliable computer networks with fast connections to the Internet. Access to the Internet is filtered to meet the Children’s Internet Protection Act law.
  8. Have access to excellent print and non-print resources in modern library media centers in every school. (Our school libraries were finalists for American Association of School Libraries National Library Program of the Year Award, 1999.)
  9. Have access to the services and guidance of qualified, professional library media specialists.
  10. Have classroom teachers who receive regular training in and updating of technology skills, and has a classroom computer for his/her use.
  11. Have classroom teachers that have precise, useful data for each child in his/her classroom.
Mankato Area Public School parents:
  1. Have online access to student information  - grades, assignments, health information, attendance – for all their secondary students. May request that a report of a failing grade, missed assignment, or unexcused absence be automatically e-mailed to them.
  2. Can contact teachers readily. Mankato teachers all have e-mail addresses, telephones in the their classrooms, and voice mail. Most have webpages.
  3. Can use the district website to access district calendars, events schedules, hot lunch menus, personnel contacts and other information.
  4. May use the website to make payments or purchases with the district electronically.
  5. Have the opportunity to serve on the District Technology Advisory Committee.
So maybe it's not as bad as I thought. The old definition of PR is the ability to make chicken salad out of chicken shit. But not one of the things listed above is a fabrication. I am not sure how many other districts can make these claims. Could be worse.

 

What would be YOUR district's pitch to parents in regard to technology and libraries? Are you making your district more or less attractive to parents?  

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Reader Comments (4)

This is a great post. I plan to share it with our School Improvement Team. Our district needs to create a plan so that we can one day provide all these things to our students. And, by the way, this wonderful list did not just happen by magic. It happened because of your leadership. Lucky Mankato! Thanks for the picture of what schools can do if they create a plan and work together on a common goal.
February 1, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJacquie Henry
Thanks for this Doug, I'll be sharing it with my administrators.

Education is getting more and more competitive and we all need to do a good job of selling our schools. Here in Shanghai, I know of at least two other American curriculum schools. One has laptops for every students 6-12 grade. My V.P. checks there schools weather station online to make recommendations for recess. We have a weather station, but not connected to the Internet. If we don't get our technology whipped into shape fast, I think we are going to start feeling the effects of this new competitive educational world.
February 2, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Utecht
I too will be sharing this with our Development Team.Our school was recently accredited by the NYSAIS and we're in the process of 'getting the word out' to the community. Thanks for the tips.

Amy
February 2, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteramy
Hi Jeff and Amy,

Yeah, the private schools have always had a more competitive mindset that the public schools in my experience. Personally, I think the competition has been good for kids - makes all of us do more to honor the needs and requests of parents.

Thanks for the comments,

All the best,

Doug
February 2, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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