February 16, 2014 5:37 pm ET
Dance pushes technology in schools, but at what cost?
Source: Your Pad or Mine?
In the 1980s, the National Enquirer adopted the slogan, “Enquiring minds want to know.” Over the years, many people have disparaged the magazine as a “rag.” But, in reality, it’s quite the opposite. Sure, the Enquirer still features sensationalist stories that border on the bizarre, but the publication still has some top-notch journalism. In fact, during the OJ Simpson trial, both ABC News and The New York Times praised the Enquirer’s coverage of the trial. The Enquirer has even been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
So, with that in mind, I decided to put my “enquiring mind” to work regarding more of Dr. Dallas Dance’s “moves” within our county school system.
Yes, I realize that I have written (ad nauseum) about this subject, but there is still more to the story. What fueled my fire and search for the forbidden fruit called the truth were some recent Baltimore Sun articles, which I will get to in a moment.
As you have read, the first issue that I took to task in this blog was the one causing the biggest stir—Dr. Dance’s contract with the SUEPS Academy. What made the matter all the more puzzling was that another former Baltimore County school superintendent, Joe Hairston, was also involved and worked for SUPES. There are so many dots in this maze it’s hard to see them without some reading glasses. So that is what I did—I put on my glasses and read.
Then, most recently, I wrote about the meeting in Annapolis’s before a “pile of politicians” (pardon the pun) where both Dr. Dance and Baltimore County School Board President Lawrence Schmidt were grilled. During that meeting, neither Dr. Dance nor President Schmidt responded to many of the questions raised by the lawmakers. (You may begin scratching your head at any time.)
It makes one think that there should be an ethics query into the matter. Oh, wait … there is. To that end, one would also think that two educated professionals would want to clear the air and answer some questions rather than become functionally mute. But we all know how that turned out.
And now onto the latest chapter in this saga.
It has been revealed that Dr. Dance wants to put a “pad of technology” (i.e., tablet computer) into every Baltimore County student’s hands. So, let’s do some simple math. In order to provide a tablet for all 113,000 students, the cost will be (kvetching) more than $100 million bucks.
Folks, that ain’t chicken feed. Rather, that’s our money. Remember, the schools use taxpayer dollars to fund all of these grand ideas.
Quite simply, if it’s our money, the pads should be ours. But that isn’t going to happen, is it?
Now comes my question, “Who’s behind this (and I hate to use this word) cooked deal?” And this isn’t the first—as you remember, the SUPES contract had some goodies baked into it.
I don’t suspect that I will get an answer. After all, Dr. Dance and Mr. Schmidt were called to Annapolis to answer questions, and it seems that they “pleaded the fifth.”
In one of my blogs on this SUPES issue I used this quote from the Sun:
“Baltimore County school board President Lawrence Schmidt, who didn’t know about Dance’s consulting work until recently, said the panel plans to discuss the issue at its next meeting Tuesday. Because the issue involves a personnel matter, he said, the board would talk with Dance about it behind closed doors.”
Now, as far as I know, they have not come out of the closet on this one yet. Mum is still the word.
But I will not stay mum, because I have more questions about all of this mess.
Why, with all the doubt laid at the feet of this idea as this Sun article illustrates, would this continue to be an issue?
Somewhere, the word “caution” appears in huge letters.
What also piqued my interest was this letter in the Sun. Here is a quote:
“Little did I know that our school superintendent, Dallas Dance, could override the ‘democratic’ process and order the board to only consider one of the two options that the ‘official’ committee had recommended to the board.”
Finally, to sum up the broad aspect of this whole issue, is this amazing piece of journalism—one of the best that I have ever read. This is Pulitzer stuff here.
Basically, I think we are putting the cart before the horse by putting the technology before the student who doesn’t have the basic skills needed.
With all of this said, there are several nuances that I will be watching on this one. The RFPs, the technology provider chosen, and the law firm involved will all be of interest to yours truly.
Say, that reminds me—which firm was involved in the SUPES deal?
Color me surprised…