Ladue Administration Asks Board to Postpone One-to-One Initiative

The administration recommends that consideration of the project be postponed.

At a business meeting Monday, the Ladue School Board heard a recommendation by the administration to postpone discussion of the One-to-One Learning Initiative.

The initiative would give Ladue high school students their own laptops for use at school and home. Until recently, approval of the initiative relied solely on finding sources of funding for the program.

The recent early departure of superintendent Dr. Marsha Chappelow and media attention of an online sex act incident on a Ladue Middle School computer led the administration to consider tabling current discussion of the initiative.

“We firmly believe in the value of this program, but believe it should be implemented at a time when there is a more conducive climate for it succeeding,” said Dr. Donna Jahnke assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, in a memo to the board.

The recommendation was only an information item, so no decision was made in regards to the initiative at the board meeting. The board, however, was supportive of the administration’s decision, said Susan Dielmann, spokesperson for the Ladue School District.

Dielmann added that no specific plan on how this will move forward has been made.  

“Those decisions will be made in the months to come,” she said.

Dave Cole December 13, 2012 at 02:52 PM
I think the decision to postpone the one-to-one laptop program was the right one, but not necessarily for the reasons given (change of leadership and the incident at the middle school). In order for a program of this magnitude to have any chance of succeeding, there must be input from parents, students, teachers and tax payers. I was surprised that the teachers were not polled to gauge their support for the program. Sure, selected teachers gave testimonials, but that's like asking the cabinet what they think of the president's decisions. Without teachers embracing the technology and getting extensive professional training on how to use the technology in the classroom, all we've done is given laptops to students, the vast majority of which already have computers at home and all of which have ready access to computers at school. I also don't believe the costs were adequately examined. There are statements about substantial savings by moving from textbooks to eBooks, but no dollar values have been provided. Are eBooks even available for the current textbooks? I looked at the 11 books my son has this semester and only 2 are available as eBooks. Does this mean his teachers will be working with new textbook versions if the initiative were to move forward? What about increased network and support costs? There are lots of questions, but not so many answers being provided. I would hope the district will have public forums to discuss the program before moving forward.
CreveCoeurDad December 13, 2012 at 05:05 PM
My counter proposal to the program was going to be that the district run a pilot program to see how it works - the STEM program is the ideal program to run it in. It's a limited number of kids and classes, they really do all need to be running the same computers in order to do some of the program, it's a tech-saavy bunch, and the teachers would naturally buy into the program. If they want to expand it slightly, offer a limited rental/subsidy program for kids without access to computers along the lines of the free lunch program. In either /both cases, it would give the district some real world experience with this before plunging headlong into a program that may rapidly become an expensive sinkhole. No company in the world would go from zero to 1300 laptops without some sort of pilot program, the district shouldn't either.
Dave Cole December 13, 2012 at 06:18 PM
I agree with you, CreveCoeurDad. They are running a pilot program for a selected group of freshmen. Unfortunately, that doesn't address issues of expanding the infrastructure, adding tech support for an additional 1,000 computers, determining which textbooks will have to be replaced (if digital versions aren't available), training for all teachers, and so on.


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