It’s been a very interesting few weeks. In an effort to educate and inform the community in which I work, we offered a many question/answer sessions and presentations about our proposed 1:1 initiative for iPads for our 5th/6th graders. We didn’t have a huge turnout, but there were great conversations. We also added a new section to the district’s website with information about everything related to the proposal, including a frequently asked questions page and a form to submit more questions.
Last Tuesday was Town Meeting Day in Vermont. The residents of the towns vote on town budgets as well as school budgets. Our school budget, like most in Vermont, was going up. The majority of the increase is due to things for which there is little control like salaries, health benefits, and costs to operate our school buildings. In the whole budget, the cost for the 1:1 was about half of a percent.
For some reason, the idea of providing an iPad for each 5th and 6th grader didn’t sit well in this town. The whole budget got voted down, by 27 votes. When exploring things further, we saw that only 15% of registered voters turned out that day.
Image originally from Creative Commons/flickr by Sean MacEntee http://flic.kr/p/9EhzwC
We don’t know the next steps yet. The School Board and administration are faced with that task. The budget will likely be adjusted to better suit the voters. Will the iPad initiative be gone entirely? We don’t know yet.
One community member was heard to say, “Our town is not ready for this.” Why not this town, when others are fully in support? What are people frightened of? Loss of control of the digital culture in their homes? Fear that their children will know more than them? Obviously there’s not a clear understanding of how this tool can support, enhance, and transform learning for the better. How do we better educate and inform the adults in our greater community?
I’m still pondering the next steps and reeling with surprise from the tone of the vote. Do you have suggestions?