LETTER: Deeds Not Words
BY GREG RASNAKE
August 13, 2012
During a recent work session discussion regarding allocation of a portion of City excess revenue to fund school technology upgrades, a City Council member stated that the Council is responsible for representing the entire City, not just the schools. I won’t argue with that. My issue with the current Council is the seemingly low priority and increased deterioration of actual support for our schools.
In the strongest possible way, I submit that our schools and the children that attend them should be the number one priority of every Council member and citizen of this City. The schools and the needs of our children should come first. This is the socially responsible thing to do. Our children are our future doctors, teachers, engineers, artisans, writers…you get the point. If we want to remain a world class school system, then we have to make investments in technology. As Superintendent of Schools Dr. Toni Jones has explained:
Technology today is not as much about the machine itself, but about the impact on teaching and learning. Technology is curriculum. Digital literacy is an expectation for children, and to be successful in school they must have access. All of their state assessments are given on the computer. Just this year Virginia increased the rigor of the state math assessment to include “enhanced technology” items. The entire test is online, and 15% of the assessment requires enhance manipulation of the technology. The assessments were incredibly difficult for the children, and the biggest hurdle was utilizing the technology- not the math content. Children as young as 9 years old must know how to drag and drop, build online graphs, use an online compass, protractor, and build and manipulate charts. 21st century instruction must allow children to be in a learning environment that will build their digital skills.
I would encourage readers to visit the very informative Q and A that Dr. Jones put together on technology issues at http://www.fccps.org/edtech/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=77:technology-qaa&Itemid=47
But even if you don’t agree with putting our schools and children first because you believe it is the socially responsible thing to do; then do it because it is in the best financial interest of the City. If we don’t have world class schools, the consistent flow of people willing to pay a premium to move and live here will wane. Yes, we live in a convenient geographic location. But it is just ridiculous to assert that our fabulous home values (and the resulting revenue generated as a result of the same) is not tied directly to our first rate schools.
Don’t believe me? Ask a local Realtor what they think about this. You can literally walk across the street to areas where schools do not perform as well and property values are significantly lower. It is irresponsible and just wrong to think that we can continue to maintain our excellent schools and at the same time continue to reduce the City’s investment in students. Through amazing effort, our fine teachers and school staff have “bootstrapped” us through this tough financial period. But as great as we are as a people, even we would have lost Bastogne without reinforcement. You just simply can’t expect our teachers and staff to “hold the line” and continue to deliver excellent results without help.
We are are on a dangerous course, but I remain hopeful that our elected officials on City Council will recognize this and steer us in a better direction. Our first President, George Washington had a motto for his life that he endeavored to live by: “Deeds, not words.” Saying you support the schools and actually doing something about it are two entirely different things. I urge everyone in the City: Do something about it!
Greg Rasnake is a member of the Falls Church City School Board.
By (see byline)
August 13, 2012