Technology glitches tick off teachers | November 28, 2008 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - November 28, 2008

Technology glitches tick off teachers

School board hears about lack of training, crashing servers, and too many e-mails

by Harry Stoll

Teachers packed the school board meeting room on Tuesday night last week and gave rocking applause to speakers who - while acknowledging the potential of Internet technology - said they are dissatisfied with how it's being used in the district.

Individual teachers told the board that use of technology adds to their workload, training is inadequate, and hardware and software don't operate properly. They also said technical support is lacking, and teachers aren't asked for comments or suggestions.

"The servers are slow," said fourth-grade teacher Christy Glazier. Servers provide access to files, programs and peripheral devices to computers on a network. Glazier also said, "This is a steep uphill learning curve," and noted she is forced to spend more home time doing teacher duties.

Teachers also said they are deluged with e-mails from parents.

"I'm a strong advocate of technology," said science teacher Laura Finco, but she gets too many e-mails from parents. One parent, she said, e-mailed that she was taking her daughter to Disneyland and asked what work she should do. Finco also said she received e-mails complaining about changes to her lesson plan.

"There is no full-time tech support," said parent and teacher Margot James, also noting that system crashes eat up a lot of time.

"Technology has increased prep time in front of computers," said Terry Pike, adding that she is worried about training. Two hours of uncompensated work time was added to teachers' schedules, she said.

"If you're wondering why we're saying nothing, it's because we can't," Board President Greg Marvel said to the teachers. "These are bargaining items."

He explained afterward, "They're trying to negotiate in public and that's inappropriate. In fact it's illegal."

The Brown Act, which prohibits undisclosed meetings by public officials, allows public bodies to consult in closed sessions with their labor negotiator but does not prohibit public discussion of issues.

Monte Vista High School math teacher Andrew Hillman, in a pre-meeting interview, called the district's technology "a humungous step backward." He said the schools were using unsophisticated methods and tools, and the district ignores teacher input and is not "negotiating in good faith."

"Why aren't we being involved?" Hillman asked.

San Ramon Valley Education Association President Darren Day said teachers want to discuss implementing technology with the district as well as the additional workload.

"SRVEA presented a new technology article proposal to our contract at the beginning of this school year," Day e-mailed after the meeting. "It is my understanding that when we meet in December the District and SRVEA will be talking about technology again at the bargaining table."

"Your presentation was helpful," Superintendent Steven Enoch told the teachers at the meeting. "I won't make excuses."

He noted that the district has lacked a director of technology for a year and a half, but Bruce Chmieleski was hired for the position Nov. 1.

"Bargaining is continuing," Enoch said in an e-mail later last week.


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