Friday, January 16, 2009
DOE Tech Reorganization All About HAL-er -ARIS
As we reported yesterday (Yet Another Reorganization From Tweed) Tweed has instituted another reorganization of technology. Now we are getting a clue as to what's behind it all.
It is all about ARIS.
About a week ago, some members of Office of Instructional Technology were "observed" by officials of the Office of Accountability giving an ARIS workshop for teachers. Soon after, the Office of Instructional Technology was folded into James Leibman's Office of Accountability. Was their workshop an audition for their being chewed up by HAL - er - ARIS?
Yes, it's all about ARIS training for teachers and possibly parents. (See a bunch of Elizabeth Green's postings on ARIS at Gotham Schools.)
Now let's make it clear. The purpose of OIT has always been to train teachers to deliver tech services to children by developing programs that will increase computer literacy.
Amongst all the other gaps, one of the keys is the technology gap that poor urban kids seem to face. Can they use word processing and spreadsheets? Can they even use a keyboard effectively? Can they make effective use of the internet? I can go on.
As I said yesterday, the ability of the schools to deliver these services to kids is at a significantly lower level than it was 6 years ago when I left the system. In fact, it has suffered a steady erosion as they moved from a district to a region to a borough and now to a citywide level.
This growing tech gap is apparently not a civil rights issue of our times for people like Al Sharpton and Joel Klein.
All studies have shown that to just put hardware into schools is not enough. Estimates are that 35% of the money should be spent on support. Most of the money for this support under BloomKlein has come in the form of federal Title IID grants, not from city money.
Managing these millions of dollars of grants effectively is a big job and as it migrated from district to region to borough under BloomKlein, the ability to deliver effective services to schools has eroded. Until today, these grants have been managed by the OIT head in each borough. Now all grants will supposedly be managed by one person and a small staff at the citywide level. Someone at the fed and state level should take a good look at how effective this will be.
Now it looks like instead of delivering services to kids, OIT personnel will be used in the service of a flawed system like ARIS.
So, on top of the $80 million tag for the ARIS data system, add these costs of training and support. Soon to be added? The other multi-million dollar special ed compter system. The data munchers at the DOE have consumed the education of an entire generation of kids.
One day, like Colonel Nicolson in Bridge on the River Kwai, Jim Leibman will scream out in pain, "What have I done?"
Leibman leads his new troops from the Office of Instructional Technology over the bridge to nowhere.
Top graphic by David B