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Article published October 31, 2012
Cut’s impact serious
Lorraine Shaffer Clay Township
Budget cuts to public education have forced school boards to answer a very hard question: “What can we cut in our budget that will do the least amount of damage to the educational growth and development of our students?” Many school districts’ solution has been to reduce or eliminate computer classes at the elementary level. As a third-grade teacher in a district that eliminated its elementary computer curriculum two years ago, I feel this cut is harming every student in our school. My colleagues and I are witnessing the rapid decline in computer literacy and proper keyboarding/word-processing technique. In the past, students entering third grade were able to name all the parts of a computer, word-process documents, and store and manipulate a file of their own work. They were able to access information from the Internet safely and capture and print pictures and graphs to enhance their work. Older students were able to make their own PowerPoint presentations to show what they’ve learned and share presentations with their peers. WebQuest and other valuable Internet education tools were easily accessible to students; they knew their way around the technology. Those days are over. In every school district, there are children who do not have access to a computer at home. Computers in school and structured, weekly computer education levels the playing field, giving every child an opportunity to succeed. Before budget cuts, our students in grades 1 through 6 had 45 minutes of computer instruction a week. Students then used those skills in their other classes as they word-processed, practiced math, or did research. Computer labs with state-of-the-art computers now go untouched many hours of the day. Without students having direct instruction, others teachers are not able to add technology to their lessons, because students lack the ability to properly operate the computers. Computers are integral in almost every career path. They also are the tool to successfully take them through their educational track to achieve their career goals. Our children are being impacted by this crucial program being cut, something that will affect them negatively throughout their high school, college and adult life. There are no computer booster organizations to champion the return of the elementary computer program. If this were a sport or music program, there would be a voice of parents and the community at school board meetings. I am asking our community to rally in support of computer education at our school board meetings. Someone needs to speak up for our kids and make computer education a priority.