Technology Leadership – School Committee

by Jean Tower

In this series of posts I am sharing DRAFT work of the ETAC and asking for your help.

Please help us through your comments here by adding to the description or by supplying us with a vignette. The vignette can be a very brief example or a “day in the life” – whatever you feel you can contribute.

DRAFT – Committee written (not claiming as my work : )

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
John F. Kennedy, November 22, 1963

“The primary goal of a school committee is to provide a proper education for the children in their community. In order to do that effectively, school committee members have several distinct powers and responsibilities. Their powers include:

  • Authority to hire the Superintendent of Schools and other staff as delineated by statute
  • Set policies
  • Adopt a budget

School Committee members have three major areas of responsibility:

  • Community responsibility
  • Responsibility to school administration
  • Relationship to fellow committee members

A 21st Century education prepares students for today’s global society and provides students the skills to navigate successfully within it. According to The Partnership for 21st Century Skills there are six broad categories and themes necessary for a 21st Century education.  They are:

  • Information and Communication
  • Thinking and Problem-Solving
  • Interpersonal and self-direction skills
  • Global knowledge and understanding
  • Financial, economic and business literacy, and developing entrepreneurial skills to enhance workplace productivity and career options
  • Civic literacy

Technology is interwoven within all of these categories. As the educational television programming was important in the early sixties, the computer has become just as essential in the early 21st Century. Unfortunately, technology is very expensive. The problem is compounded in these hard economic times with tight budgets. As educational leaders, school committee members should model and support the use of technology to enhance student learning. They can model by creating a School Committee webpage or “web presence” or by creating “shows” on the local public access or educational channel. They can show support by recommending funding for requests for technology tools and software.
One tool for a technologically progressive school committee to use would be a web-based school committee automated communication product. This product would allow the community to access the meetings in process and share documents among administrators, school board members, and the public. This product also allows for multi-media presentations that can be accessed anytime and anywhere via the Internet.
A school committee should be actively involved with technology planning. At least one member of the school committee should be an active member of the District Technology Committee. As an active participant, this would insure that the school committee is informed about the district’s status in terms of technology, the four year technology plan, technology professional development and projects, grants, hardware, software, network infrastructure, e-rate, and student information management systems. A successful technology program relies on a high quality professional development program funded through local budgets supported by school committee members.
A school committee that understands that “leadership and learning are indispensable to each other” (Kennedy) will take the time to understand that the students (often referred to as the millennials or digital natives) in our classroom learn differently. They are technology savvy and consider email passé. They are expert at texting and multi-tasking.  Technology and the Internet are tools they know and use. Our classrooms should be vital and alive with instruction that includes emerging technology such as web 2.0 tools, wikis, blogs, podcasts, and streaming video.
It is difficult for school committee members to balance community responsibility, responsibility to school administration and the relationship to fellow committee members. However to achieve the ultimate goal of a proper education that includes 21st century skills all parties must work together to achieve this goal so that our students will be career ready with the 21st  technological skills necessary to succeed in the ever evolving global society.”

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