Plug In...and Read
by Anthony Stasi
Dec 15, 2011 | 2152 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The ongoing mission to improve education in big cities requires innovation. Some ideas – such as vouchers, tax credits, and longer school years - have been talked about for some time. Where does technology come in as an avenue to achievement? Every kid has a cell phone, and while they should not have them in class, this is now a part of their culture.

The discussion on fixing our schools always involves books. How do we keep books current? Which books are in the curriculum for our local schools? A large public school system should make a deal with either Amazon or Barnes & Noble and find a way to get electronic readers available to students. Amazon is in better shape financially, so they would be a safer bet to make a deal.

These electronic readers, like Amazon’s Kindle and the Nook from Barnes & Noble, could be headed toward extinction, since iPads and tablets are more popular. Forming a partnership with the public school systems in this country might be a way to save this product, making this a win-win for both sides.

Do students need yet another gadget to play with? Yes, they need this one. Not all students have tablets, laptops, and printers at home, it only appears that way. There are very poor families in this city, and giving them an electronic reader (if only for the school year) would be a way to give kids access to a large library of books.

Because of cell phones and computers, students are already used to reading things from a screen, as opposed to paper. I still love paper, and cannot commit to a hand-held device for my heavy reading, but this is a generational difference and electronic information is part of the culture for these kids. Developing a program where a few schools in troubled districts get these devices would be a sign of good faith that their school system wants them included in what the rest of the city is using.

Critics are sure to disagree with this, but they would have to answer to the fact that books get old and require updating. This drives up costs to schools. Students damage books, but they cannot damage an electronic book.

I’m reminded of a Sunday morning in September of 1985 when, as a freshman at Msgr. McClancy Memorial High School, I was supposed to read The Last of the Mohicans. I did not have the book, and dragged my mom all over Queens looking for the right edition. No luck. This is a way to get students beyond those situations.

Schools should also list their reading requirements online so there is transparency in education. Next to each book would be a purchase option; students could click and download.

I would like to know what the kids in my neighborhood are reading. By listing what the reading requirements are online, we can see what schools are expecting of students. No student should be the victim of low expectations.

Most members of Congress use iPads or electronic tablets to read their information. If it is good enough for Congress, it is good enough for students. They are going to be using these tools when they find careers after school, or they are going to need to use this technology when they go to college. They may discover that they actually want to go to college after being exposed to the volumes of books in electronic form.

It's worth a shot.

Why The World Is Rooting For Green Bay

The Green Bay Packers are 13-0 this season. They could be one of only two other undefeated regular season post-1970 NFL teams (the others being the 1972 Miami Dolphins of 1972 and the 2007 New England Patriots).

Green Bay is important to sports fans because they are still a small-market team. They are owned by the town of Green Bay and not some conglomerate. While I do not like that they defeated my Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl last year, they played a great game – and have not lost a game since – and they are a good story in a sea of stories about overpaid selfish athletes.

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