Kansas City Public Schools announce technology rollout, angers some teachers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Every student in the Kansas City Public School District will receive a laptop or tablet computer this school year, board members told teachers at a meeting Wednesday night.

The plan has been under discussion since January, but details remained elusive until the meeting's presentation by district officials.

At an estimated cost of $400 per student per year, the district will buy or lease devices loaded with educational software every student in the district, a total of more than 17,000, and begin phasing them into the curriculum in August.

The 1:1 Initiative, as it is referred to by the district, is designed to improve students' familiarity with technology, to replace aging textbooks and to help prepare students for the 2015 MAP assessment.

The MAP test will be computerized-- no longer pencil and paper based.

The president of the teachers union, which represents KCPS teachers, said the quick rollout of the plan, with little teacher input, is a recipe for failure.

"If you think throwing a computer at [students] in August and letting them take it home is going to automatically cure all the evils of this district, then you are clueless," Andrea Flinders told the board.

She said the district was rushing its timetable and risked turning a positive development for students into a disaster.

She questioned whether old schools and older homes had the necessary infrastructure to take full advantage of wireless devices, how students would be held accountable for their upkeep and how and when teachers could be trained in their use.

Superintendent Dr. Stephen Green said the transition to more technology in the classroom is inevitable and the sooner it happens, the better for the struggling district's students.

Board Member Kyleen Carroll put her feelings on the initiative more bluntly.

"I urge every single teacher in this school district, every parent to get on board and quite frankly my adage is if you're not on board, go somewhere else," Carroll said.

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