First, a little background…
After first learning about a PTO meeting to discuss the K-4 1:1 iPad roll out and our need to purchase an iPad for our kindergartner to take back and forth each day, we were surprised to say the least. Our plans to limit our young children’s exposure to digital devices until they got older were now being thwarted by the school system. We immediately went to the HSE website to find out the rationale behind giving elementary students their own iPad. If you check the link you’ll notice there is no language about why a 5 year old needs his/her own device. Learning that we were going to have to buy an iPad for each 5-10 year-old in less than nine months was a shock. Immediately plans were made to attend the aforementioned PTO meeting to learn more.
After attending our school’s informational meeting, we noticed that many parents had questions, yet those questions were not being fully addressed. Questions like, what is the problem this fixes? What significant benefits will parents see after buying an iPad for each of their K-4 children? Does this go against my pediatrician’s screen time recommendations? Why are we focusing on iPads instead of smaller classroom sizes and better teacher pay? etc. There was an aura of frustration around many parents at the meeting who felt they weren’t being heard, or that their voice was not even considered.
This website, facebook page, and petition were created to channel that frustration into positive action. If you note the text of our petition, it is positively and respectfully worded, asking the administration to reconsider having K-4 parents purchase/rent iPads until these questions are fully addressed. This is intentional because we are not anti-school, anti-teacher, or even anti-technology. Many of our schools are four star schools already without mandatory iPads, so delaying this roll out would provide the district time to address K-4 parent concerns and those now coming in from the older grades, without major adverse effects. If anything, it would save the district money from paying for teacher training, etc. for at least one year.
The courage of the many parents and teachers who continue to message us, sign the petition, and comment on the Facebook page shows just how important this issue is to many Fishers parents. The 1:1 plan has and will be expensive to both our school system and to individual families in our community, and we believe that it is healthy and normal to ask questions and to expect those questions to be answered before moving forward. If the school system is going to mandate parents buy them, take them home, and manage them, the district should at least take the time to address all parent concerns.
Fear mongering and good digital citizenship
There is a group of parents who support the 1:1 roll out as it stands, and they are frustrated by our petition. A counter petition and Facebook page were created. But this petition chose to belittle and insult parents with legitimate concerns, claiming that these parents were “uniformed”, using “pseudo-science” and buying into Internet scare columns. Some of the comments on Facebook have been even worse, but here’s an example …
And then, something disturbing occurred, something that flies in the face of the good digital citizenship we hope our children are being taught. A couple of our elected school board members started promoting the condescending counter petition. Disconcerting as that may be, it gets worse. Shortly there after, the taxpayer supported HSE21 page promoted this counter petition, a petition that is clearly intended to insult a group of people (us) who are simply trying to ask questions about how their tax and personal dollars are being spent. [Update as of 3/21/2016 we’ve been told the HSE21 has taken down the condescending post]
Where we are now
Because of their promotion efforts teachers have started to share this condescending petition, and the atmosphere around this issue is changing. Parents, who have legitimate questions, are now fearful that their children may be singled out. Words are being thrown around in anger and fear between neighbors and community members. This is where it crosses the line, friends.
Parents and teachers are being pitted against each other for something that cannot be decided by parents and teachers. This is the district’s decision, to spend their limited resources wisely in a way that benefits all. We will continue to direct our questions and comments to the administration. We encourage the district to resolve this quickly, work with parents before asking for more of our money and disrupting our home life choices, and help bring our community back together again.