I’ve been away from my email more or less for two weeks and have been wading through today. I’m nearly 3 hours in, and I’ve seen two very exciting bits of news so far.
1. Marvell has announced a $99 tablet computer prototype that they say will be a “game-changer” for education. According to the eSchool News article dated March 26, 2010, the computer will “surf the web, interact with electronic textbooks and other digital media, and collaborate with each other around the globe.” Some are skeptical though, saying that the only way the computer can be that inexpensive is if it’s running Linux. Many educators and districts are not yet ready to embrace open source software, but with $99 computers on the horizon, will they be pushed to embrace it?
2. Just announced today, Delaware and Tennessee are the big winners in the Race to the Top. According to Education Week online magazine dated March 29, 2010, Delaware will get $100 million, while Tennessee will receive $500 million. US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said of RTTT, “This isn’t about funding nice pilot programs. This is about taking student achievement to an entirely different level, and doing it at scale.”
Delaware had 100% of districts and teachers sign on to their proposal. Stakeholders include governor, state education department, local districts (LEAs), unions, and the business community. Their model includes identified schools to become “turnaround” schools. Teachers and principals can earn bonuses by teaching in high need areas and content, and they also will be deemed effective or ineffective based on the growth of their students. Teachers and principals deemed ineffective for two to three years can be removed from the classroom, even if tenured.
In Tennessee 100% of districts and teachers signed on, while only 93% of teacher unions agreed to the plan. 100% of students will be affected. Stakeholders include governor, state education department, state legislature, LEAs, unions, business, and philanthropic communities. A new state law will allow value-added data for teacher and principal evaluations and state intervention allowing for the state to move from a “highly qualified teacher” paradigm to an “effective teachers and leaders” model immediately with a turnaround plan for ineffective schools.
So how do you feel about these changes to coming to American schools: $99 tablet PCs and schools that evaluate teacher and principals for effectiveness?