Monday, January 24th, 2011 at 2:49pm

Is there any hope for California schools?

Posted by Jordan Erickson

It’s depressing to hear how bad the California economy is getting, and its effects on our schools’ budgets. I mean, it’s been bad for a long time, but there have been no revolutionary turns, no silver-bullet fixes and no promises kept regarding the quality of education of our children. In contemplating the root of this problem, I have little to turn to but the inefficiency of the bureaucracy which is our state’s education system.

What I mean is this: There are a lot of people out here that want to help our schools. There are a lot of different ways that you can start a grassroots project and get some real results that will positively affect the quality of education that is given to the children that will soon be the ones making the decisions in our local communities. There are extremely talented yet frustrated teachers, parents and community members out there that have the determination to make things better, but there’s a mammoth in the way – the school system itself.

We all know what needs to happen – a loosening of state regulations, a restructuring of the funding process, and a refocusing of the energy which feeds our schools. A community effort that brings together local businesses, local parents and local schools is the best way to make results that will help our children lead fruitful and enjoyable lives. We need to be able to have the power to make real changes together, to see results from our efforts instead of hitting a brick wall when we ask for permission. We need to assume responsibility for what service our schools are providing to the children of our communities. But how are we going to do that, with the system that’s already in place?

An example surfaces from a conversation I had recently at a local computer recycling center. A volunteer had informed me that, in order to even donate computers to a school involves a process that is too much to handle for them. For a parent, community member or business to simply hand off a computer that would still be useful in an educational context to a school is not something that can happen because of red tape. Is this backwards or what? Schools have no money for computers, but it is next to impossible for someone to donate one. It’s like we’re in a gridlock here, where our children are suffering with a lack of resources but you can’t make it better because the funnel of resources comes only from the very top layers of our state’s budget. The only recourse, sometimes, is to sneak them in, breaking the rules and sometimes breaking the network along with it, because with no way for a qualified employee to give the system a once over, viruses and misconfigurations can wreak havoc.

I am frustrated as I am one of those community members that really wants to make a difference. I guess I’m just looking for someone to prove me wrong, to tell me that I’m missing an obvious avenue and that there *is* a way for schools to get the things they need (technology resources in particular since that’s my forté). With repurposed/recycled computers from businesses that upgrade, and freely available software such as Linux and Open Source, there’s no reason why schools cannot embrace new methods of harnessing technology for the sake of bettering the quality of education our children receive.

I’m here to help if anyone can point me in the right direction. 🙂

Sources of inspiraton: http://www.tracypress.com/pages/full_story/push?article-Computer+shortage+squeezes+Tracy+Unified+schools%20&id=11079347

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