Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What’s more important: School buildings or the teachers who fill them

While browsing eSchool News yesterday, I came across this article. Since reading, I have been continuously thinking about the impact that this will have on students. The article describes how many school districts, including one particular school in Los Angeles, are beginning to build new extremely extravagant and high-tech school buildings. These multi-million dollar facilities feature commodities such as "atriums, orchestra-pit auditoriums, food courts, even bamboo nooks". I was very surprised to discover that amenities such as wireless internet, and high-tech systems are becoming normal in these schools.

Though all of these features may sound exciting, useful and 'cool', they are coming at a very high cost. The article states that, "[in our country] Nearly 3,000 teachers have been laid off over the past two years, the academic year and programs have been slashed". As a future educator, I find this information quite alarming.

In multiple school districts around my hometown, teachers are being laid off, art and athletic programs are being completely taken away, and the school years are actually being cut shorter to reduce costs. At the same time, these districts have elaborate plans in place for new 'state of the art' buildings.

After reading this article and comparing it to my own experiences, I have began to form many opinions and questions about the issue. I can't imagine that students are actually going to benefit MORE from a 'high-tech' building than they would from a highly effective teacher or extracurricular activities.
Though this whole course is about using technology as a key element to teach in the future, I feel as though a good teacher and experience in the arts, athletics or other clubs can be more helpful.

Obviously, technology is a great tool for teachers... is a fancy 'high tech' building REALLY better for a students success than an inspirational teacher?

Why not keep and hire more great teachers and encourage extracurriculars rather than a fancy school building?

Is a pretty building actually going to keep a student in school and help him/her succeed in life? ...I don't think so.

What do you think?

source used:


Annie Tillmann said...

I think it really depends on what they mean by high-tech. The extravagance of the LA school described is a little much, but I think environment plays a huge role in how a student feels about being at school. Before my high school got an addition and was updated, it legitimately looked like a prison and kind of felt like one too. It was hard to focus in class because everything was so gloomy. It was easy for students to ditch classes and make it back to catch a bus because there is a mall right across the street. I feel like when the building and technology used in the school were updated, it seemed like more kids were staying at school and in class more often.

I think it's awful that they're making so many cutbacks and laying teachers off, but I don't think that not updating the actual building is going to fix that. A lot of all that money spent comes from government or other grants, whereas teacher salaries do not. It's unfortunate, but true.

I found another article, however not from e school news, that explains where the funding for similar improvements to New Jersey schools came from: I don't think companies can donate teachers salaries, but the can provide for children and schools in other ways by funding things like makeovers for libraries. A specific example would be Target and the Heart of America foundation, who funded the remodeling of 16 schools that were home to low-income students. "The complete library transformations will include more than 2,000 new books,advanced technology, new furnishings, shelving, paint, carpeting, and light construction. Target also will give every student from the 16 schools seven new books to add to their personal at-home reading collection."

However I do feel that inspirational teachers are more important, but we can't dismiss the importance that the environment plays as well.

Annie Tillmann said...

whoops, the info about the Target funding is from