Besides ordinary building upkeep and repairs, the Smart and Secure Schools bond will “provide Tulsa Public Schools with $31 million for technology,” Tulsa world reports. “Every Tulsa classroom will get a basic set of modern instructional technology – a desktop computer, interactive whiteboard with speakers, iPad, document camera, Internet Protocol TV and wireless Internet access.”
Additionally this will enable the schools to purchase “computers that are equipped to handle the next generation of mostly online state standardized tests.” The proposed purchase includes bringing the computer to student ratio up to state average levels, as well as the computers for the tests.
As part of the Common Core curriculum Oklahoma has adopted in its classrooms, these end-of-instruction tests are now administered via CTB/McGraw-Hill internet servers to the various schools who take them. CTB/McGraw-Hill is contracted to administer the end-of-instruction tests in Oklahoma.
These same standardized tests were delayed a month ago in Tulsa when system updates were sent to the wrong grade levels.
Tulsa World again reports, “McGraw also uploaded a software revision the day before testing began, forcing districts to delay testing and requiring many to reload every single computer with the revised testing content… By [Monday] evening, McGraw still hadn’t determined why the servers failed but indicated the system would be ready Tuesday.”
Then, at the end of the same month, the McGraw-Hill servers shut down “randomly,” according to one Tulsa Public Schools counselor. There was, apparently, a backup plan in case servers crashed, but that, too, failed because paper tests had not been delivered.
In both cases Oklahoma was affected as well as Indiana.
Common Core Stopped by State Legislature in Indiana
While Oklahoma decided to more money today in the Tulsa technology bond, another story is taking place in the state of Indiana. The Eagle Forum reports Common Core has been stopped in its tracks. “Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the bill into law requiring the State Board to take no further actions to implement any common core standards. The bill also calls for the state board, the legislative study committee, and the office of management and budget to conduct ‘comprehensive evaluations’ of the common core standards.”
Quick analysis: Oklahoma and Indiana both suffered delays due to McGraw-Hill’s repeated mishaps. Indiana passes a bill preventing any further implementation of Common Core until a comprehensive evaluation can be completed. Oklahoma (Tulsa) raises taxes and spends millions to invest in more of the technology. We need to get our priorities straight. I’m all for funding our education programs with modern technology, but we need to hold back our money when it is being poorly invested. There is a reason we have votes on these issues – they shouldn’t pass every time.