More spending but no additional learning

by Russ Roberts on June 11, 2010

in Education, Other People's Money, Politics

From the Washington Post:

Under enormous pressure to reform, the nation’s public schools are spending millions of dollars each year on gadgets from text-messaging devices to interactive whiteboards that technology companies promise can raise student performance.

Driving the boom is a surge in federal funding for such products, the industry’s aggressive marketing and an idea axiomatic in the world of education reform: that to prepare students kids for the 21st century, schools must embrace the technologies that are the media of modern life.

Increasingly, though, another view is emerging: that the money schools spend on instructional gizmos isn’t necessarily making things better, just different. Many academics question industry-backed studies linking improved test scores to their products. And some go further. They argue that the most ubiquitous device-of-the-future, the whiteboard — essentially a giant interactive computer screen that is usurping blackboards in classrooms across America — locks teachers into a 19th-century lecture style of instruction counter to the more collaborative small-group models that many reformers favor.

Those bootleggers can always be persuasive when it comes to helping the kids. And as Milton liked to point out, people always spend their own money more carefully than other people’s money.

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