Thank You, Bill -- Hello Bernadeia!

After a remarkable four year tenure, Minneapolis Schools superintendent, Bill Green will step down from his position. Green's response to a MinnPost reporter who asked: Is there any tightly held belief you have had to let go of because of your superintendency?

I have never been a fan of charter schools, and I now see that this is a very serious alternative that we have to pursue. The district has been legislatively enabled to sponsor its own charter schools. I think that's important, and I'm willing to look at them.

This is really the bigger issue for me, and I've never said this before: I no longer feel that we can reach every child in the traditional way, the way that we've been pursuing it.

Minneapolis Public Schools is a place where a lot of kids can do great things, to use a phrase. But the traditional system we have doesn't really seem to accommodate the educational needs of all our kids in a school district where the majority are of poverty and of color and a growing number are coming from other countries and learning the language and just on the threshold of acculturation.

It's a system that has to be a little bit more imaginative.

We've got teachers in critical classrooms where the kids really, really need superb instruction . . . who don't really believe that a child because of their color, because of their class, because of their accent, because of their parents, that they really can't learn, that their school would be better if you gave us better kids. Those people don't deserve a paycheck.

But we're stuck. We have a certain kind of arrangement here that's part of the structural problem in reaching all kids. Every teacher's got to believe that every child can learn.

I do worry about the mounting frustration that people have toward the teaching profession because I think they -- don't always -- separate the classroom teacher from the union.

There is a role that unions play, and we're in a time where it's hard to find that ground where we can meet each other because the wind is blowing in all sorts of directions. It's hard to be heard, and it's hard to get sure footing and so people who would otherwise be friends and colleagues -- those relationships are straining.

Mr. Green will be replaced by Deputy Superintendent, Bernadeia Johnson.


Should Grade Schools Ban Computers?

Noted child psychologist, Dr. Aric Sigman, wants computers banned from grade schools. He insists schools should not give students access to a PC before they reach the age of nine. The UK-based psychologist says a child's brain is not yet fully developed and could be damaged by exposure to computer technology.

"We risk infantilising the child's mind by spoon-feeding it with strong audio-visual sensations," Dr. Sigman opined.

"While new technology may serve as a powerful tool," he reasons, "it must be introduced and used judiciously at much later ages -- ideally, at least age nine."

The Information Age

Obviously, there are many who disagree with Sigman -- and for good reason.

A number of major studies have shown that age-appropriate software can prove very beneficial to student learning, particularly in the area of language development.

Also, there are simply practical considerations. Removing computers from our children's schools would not remove computers from their lives. Whatever impact PC technology has on young people -- teachers pretending the computer doesn't exist is clearly not a solution.

Digital Vigilance

But Dr. Sigman's assertions must not be easily dismissed. His warning reminds us that we are flying blind -- in uncharted territory. We're just now beginning to understand how computers can best be integrated into the classroom. We have no clue about the long-term implications.

Educators must become acutely aware, and remain extremely sensitive, to how students are personally effected by interaction with digital technology.