Wednesday, March 28, 2012

iPads or cash for teachers?

Instead of having a chance to compete for classroom iPads, would teachers rather divvy up the money for a one-time cash bonus?  Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board member Rhonda Lennon juiced up an already lively discussion of the CMS technology plan by posing that question last night.

The district's move toward a "bring your own technology" digital-rich environment in August has turned technology into a topic everyone has opinions about.  CMS kicked off the push in February by giving school administrators iPads, software and training to use them on classroom walk-throughs.  Next step:  Using about $3.4 million in county money to buy "innovation kits" that provide iPads for the classroom teacher and 10 for the class.

There's not enough money to buy them for everyone,  so CMS is seeking proposals for how teachers would use the devices to boost learning.  Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh said about 300 teams,  with a total of 3,000 teachers,  have applied.  Chief Information Officer Scott Muri said the "target" is to provide the kits for about 1,000 teachers,  but if there are more high-quality applications the district will try to find more money.

Lennon,  who's been skeptical of the iPad push,  asked if CMS could redo this year's budget to spend that money instead on a one-time bonus for teachers,  whose pay has been frozen since 2008.  She said her calculations show it would come to about one percent of a teacher's salary.  "If they want to buy themselves an iPad with it, then go for it," Lennon said.

Hattabaugh said it would be a  "betrayal"  of teachers who have already put work into their proposals.  Board member Joyce Waddell,  a retired teacher,   agreed:  "It would be wonderful if we could have $3 million for teachers, but we have a prior commitment.  We have to trust decisions that we have made."

Vice Chair Mary McCray,  also a retired teacher,  asked if it's possible to do an online poll of teachers to see which they'd prefer.

Chairman Ericka Ellis-Stewart asked how CMS is ensuring that all students get the full digital experience,  even if their teachers don't get iPad kits.

CMS just doesn't have the money to buy devices for each student, Muri said.  He said that would cost around $120 million.  But by combining district money with what donors, PTAs and families can contribute,  he said,  schools can move more quickly into an essential new style of learning

"BYOT is for all children,"  Muri said.


Anonymous said...

Interesting board meeting last night. Muri is leaving with a lot of confusion behind. The head of the Instructional Technology department (read training for iPads) is also retiring. Who's steering now?

Anonymous said...

Nice presentation to the school board last night re: BYOT. I am sure Atlanta will appreciate Mr. Muri's efforts. Here in Charlotte he won't see that, by his own budget and planning, the BYOT model is really NOT for everyone. Some will have faster and more options than others. Also, the tech model works at schools like Providence Day because of a very strict and enforceable "Honor Code" that students sign off on for each and every assignment. And classes that use tech methods ensure that each kid has the same device or access (guess that is what tuition is for....).

Also, in the news was the "tweet" with expletives that cost the kid expulsion within weeks of the end of his senior year. This was outside of school time, allegedly, and the school somehow is enforcing discipline beyond hours. CMS needs to tread very lightly and legally investigate their exposure on actually implementing an all out transition to BYOT. The "traffic" and behavior of online practices, as well as who actually has what and when they use it, will be logistical nightmares that current staffing issues and budget constraints obviously can't address.

Apple is the Winner Mr. Gates said...

Teachers are not selfish people. However the BYOT shows selfishness on the part of CMS leadership. Instead of funding a program they believe will enhance education for all CMS students, they ask teachers to compete for themselves and a minimal number of students.

Grants are usually only awarded if the funding is available to award them. If CMS opted to reward all teachers using the tech funds there would be little complaint.

Why not opt for the more economical Android or other alternate to the IPad.CMS tax dollars would go at least two to four times the classrooms.

The real winner in this Muri math fiasco is the Apple sales representative. This is where the investigation should begin!

Anonymous said...

CMS could use the tech funds to have teachers apply to have their schools cleaned. Maybe CMS could use the funds to provide part-time TA’s. Middle school sports could use some new equipment. CMS could expand the arts and music programs which are known to improve education. Perhaps the funds could be used to have the bus routes changed so families could be on a reasonable schedule. Maybe CMS could do something for the very slow tech in existing computer labs. CMS is in such a hard spot trying to figure out how to spend excess funding once again. Last year the Public Information message was that CMS would be losing 1000 teachers. Note to public: CMS didn't lose 1000 teachers but gained several hundred trailer park classrooms.

Anonymous said...

How about we teach the kids how the technology WORKS instead of how to play with it? The elementary school "technology labs" are a joke. The kids spend their time logging on (which can take FORVER!) and then playing on "educational" websites. How about teaching them to type and to use Word and Excel? How about teaching them how a computer works? How about the history of computing and the great innovative minds behind the technology they are using?

Anonymous said...

I say to Muri BYOT I paid for my 3 kids tablets in my COUNTY tax bill this year $11,000 up from $8500 the year before. Your leaving anyhow so go chase the opportunity Peter got you in the ATL! CMS is so far behind on technology I agree with him it would take $120,000,000 to catch up. We jsut dont have it unless you sell the arena we voted no on to Jordan. LIFT will be the answer just beleive it folks.

Anonymous said...

We can hear you. I love how the BOE and Rents talk about teachers like we are some inanimate object to be moved about on a whim or made to do this that or the other like an automaton...

Anonymous said...

I suggest Muri stop planning for CMS since his intentions are in Atlanta. If he is sticking around for gas money may reccomend calling Mr. Bill Gates. The tax payers are sick of footing the bill for his salary. Talk about a waste of a line item in the budget.

Anonymous said...

Christine Mast


Your post on how to save money in the other story is spot on. You are a professional accountant and it just takes a little homework with the balance sheet to see the smoke and mirrors of CMeS. Keep up the good work. Always follow the money.

No Data
No Peace

Anonymous said...

Christine's logic is good. But some of her math would result in bad public decision making. For instance, if CMS closes the Graphic Production Center how then is CMS to pay for the millions of copies that are currently printed below market rate? The need for copies does not go away. What Christine suggests being a cost savings measure actually results in spending more money not saving a dime. Careful Christine, CMS does this all the time.

CMS gives selfish educrats IPads while giving students trailer park classrooms. Why not give some educrats IPads and make the rest pay for their own? Maybe the educrats should have competed against each other for their IPads? Blatant selfishness.

Where is the public bid that offered equal access for the IPad competition?

No Data.

Truth Seeker said...

Getting teachers to use technology to engage students is a great idea. Wish more would utilize all the online resources, videos, interactive websites, etc. Too many teachers still use daily worksheets and basic drill and kill strategies.

Christine Mast said...

Anon @10:17,

Thanks for your comments.

I hope you can help me, though. What on earth are we printing millions of pages for? Does anyone know?

While I understand your point about them doing it for under market value (which I'll just have to assume, because we'll never know for sure), WHY are they doing it? What purpose does it serve? Who is their customer? I believe the need for copies DOES go away.

If they're trying to reach out to the parents, why can't they use EMAIL and save some trees? We know all the employees have email accounts. How many families have email access? How many don't? The ones that don't are the only ones that need a paper copy. Partner with the massive Technology department and get them to help put an email blast list together.

And while the schools may need to make copies, we should also be aware that they are woefully short on copy paper, so the teachers end up doing that on their own dimes.

If I'm missing some logic here, please let me know. I'm simply making suggestions, as I don't see too many of those coming from anywhere.

All I do see is the media continuing to push CMS's ultimate agenda, which is to take the eyes off the real problem (which is CMS is a poor steward of their public funds), and puts the public on notice to *think* that the only way to give our teachers a raise is to keep the bell schedules the same as they are now. Which as I said yesterday, is pure hogwash.

Christine Mast said...

Since it was mentioned in these comments, here were my "suggestions" as to where to cut funds to be able to give the teachers a 3% raise AND fix the bell schedules -- all without asking for more money from the County.

The following are suggestions on where to find money to fix the bus schedules and longer school days:

Have you NOTICED the combined 3% Cost of Living Increase and Market Adjustment of $26,035,725 (pages 29-30)? What is more important? Giving your School Staff their share of these increases, which are only $17 million? Or giving every employee in the district, including Bright Beginnings staff, this kind of raise? You could “save” over $10 million by cutting the 3% bumps to non-School-Division employees.

Have you NOTICED the Zone budget of $3,470,526 (pages 244-245)? What is more important? Paying for a Zone budget, which places too many layers between the Superintendent and the Community, or meeting the needs of the users of your services?

Have you NOTICED the Communications Office budget add-on of $185,000 (pages 138-139)? There have been so many issues with the Communications department in these last few months… What is more important? Giving them even more staff members, or fixing the bus schedules and length of the school day?

Have you NOTICED the Communities in Schools Cost Model Adjustment of $71,669 (page 31)? Since they’re going directly to the County for more funding, why don’t they include this amount in their request?

Have you NOTICED the Graphic Production Center budget of $832,259 (pages 164-165)? What is more important? Funding a Graphic Production Center or fixing the bus schedules and length of the school day?

Have you NOTICED the Legal Department budget net increase of $1,033,612 (pages 136-137)? Why are 10 more positions needed in the Legal Department?

As you deliberate on these financial decisions, please notice all these other areas, and do not pit an adjustment to the bus schedules against teacher raises. The Public is wary of these types of tactics, and are also asking if you have NOTICED.

Christine Mast said...

Several huge issues with these grants to get iPad innovation kits:

The teachers had to write the grants and spend their own time (unpaid) doing this work. Per Muri, over 3,000?? teachers applied. Per Muri, only 1,000?? teachers will get them. Now, I have no idea if 1,000 is the number of teachers that will get one iPad for themselves, plus up to 10 for their class? Who knows? I can't get any answers out of him.

When pressed, Muri said that in order to supply iPads for every child in every classroom, it would cost over $120 million. "And we can't do that right now."

Well, you already spent $1.2 million for ADMINISTRATORS to get iPads, and they didn't have to COMPETE for them!

So let's go a step further. Pretend it's September 2012. What do you propose for the teachers to do, if they're lucky enough to have won a grant... they'll have an iPad for themselves, and up to 10 of their kids. How are you going to get a classroom of 22-30 kids to hover over 10 iPads? I understand that we can't do this overnight, but you're creating a scenario for a full year with kids fighting to get a hold of these things.

And this BYOT? What a joke. What happens when parents can't afford it. What happens when a kid drops it or loses it or it gets stolen. There's SO many unanswered questions here, it's laughable.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the lost and found in just about EVERY school in our system... kids can't keep up with a sweatshirt or water bottle- but Muri wants them to keep up with their own technology. I am all for kids being held accountable and teaching them responsibility- but the reality is the technology is expensive and I would venture to say the majority of parents (and students) in our huge system are not prepared for BYOT.

Anonymous said...

BYOT- Harry Jones and the County can buy my 3 kids their iPads or Laptops next fall. I paid a $4000- property tax increase this year so they can choke on it.

Wiley Coyote said...


What happens when parents can't afford it.

I think this blurb in one of Ann's blogs a few weeks ago is very telling:

At the eastside Cochrane, 87 percent of students are from low-income homes. Bishop is using federal Title I money, which is provided to high-poverty schools, to make sure each middle-school student has a laptop to use in class (eighth-graders won't get theirs until next year).

Cochrane students may not be wealthy, but they're not technologically destitute, Bishop says: "They all have smartphones," and about half have computers at home.

In one comment, the usual insertion of "poverty" into the equation, use of Federal dollars to buy hundreds of laptops and then turn around in the next breath and tell us these same kids are not technologically destitute at home?

This is the same mindset that has infected public education for decades.

Stop using poverty as an excuse when poverty is NOT the excuse. You can't have it both ways.

People are tired of hearing it.

We are Anonymous said...


Thank you for clarifying your points. Your ideas about using electronic communication are excellent. However, if the CMS Graphic Production Center does not compete with private sector printing companies the companies getting the printing cheaper from CMS than from Kinko's will have to pay more for their printing. Your idea makes sense if we are talking about CMS internal printing. But doesn't the CMS Graphic Production Center bid against private sector printing companies for local printing jobs because it has excess capacity and needs the work to keep CMS employees busy?

Anonymous said...

If I was a teacher - give me the money. There is no way 'techonology' will be viable in the system in the five years, let alone next year. On another note, I can't believe a former teacher would say "TAKE A POLL!" REALLY?! Going to be a long long year!

Anonymous said...

The administrators, who can affoard the technology ($six figure salaries) all get the free tech while the say first year teachers that are $10,000 away from poverty have to grovel and pray and hope and wish for one. What great examples of leadership and stewards of money that CMS is showing to the county.

Anonymous said...

Muri and Cobitz are now gone.

Baxter and cohorts
Latarza,Tehearya and cohorts

All the other waste that is there and not seen by the taxpayers.


Cheap windows 7 said...

Apple is famous and popular company in all over the world. Ipad is launch by this company. Its great and beneficial product.

Anonymous said...

I would rather have the dental and vision benefits back rather than an IPAD!

Anonymous said...

They dont need any benefits either. Public schools are commie camps indoctrinating kids into the Obama Agenda. Teachers are just under achievers who cannot do. Therefore they teach and expect to be paid like the real producers in society.