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The  digital  age  is  radically  restructuring  the  face  of  American  education,  for  better   or  worse.  At  this  point,  there’s  no  denying  the  fundamental  role  that  technology   plays  in  the  classroom:  by  the  time  children  enter  the  school  system,  technology  is   already  an  integral  part  of  their  daily  lives,  and  teachers  are  constantly  finding  new   and  innovative  ways  to  incorporate  such  developments  into  their  lessons.     The  long-­‐term  impact  of  technology  in  the  classroom  is  the  subject  of  fervent  debate.   Some  argue  that  increased  connectivity  invites  children  to  contextualize  their   education  on  a  broader,  worldwide  level;  suddenly,  students  have  access  to  virtually   unlimited  information,  and  the  subsequent  possibilities  are  just  as  limitless.  As   Abigail  Walthausen,  columnist  for  The  Atlantic,  argues,  integrating  technology  into   education  not  only  prepares  students  for  an  increasingly  digital  workforce,  but  gives   them  a  way  to  structure  their  use  of  technology  in  as  productive  a  way  as  possible.   Teachers  can  demonstrate  how  social  media  is  not  just  a  cure  for  boredom,  but  a   way  to  connect  with  the  with  the  world  outside  the  classroom.     It’s  no  wonder  that  President  Barack  Obama’s  ConnectEd  program,  which  pledges  to   help  students  prepare  to  compete  in  the  global  economy  through  increased  access   to  technology,  has  received  such  popular  appeal.  Through  support  from  digital   innovators  like  Microsoft  and  Verizon,  the  program’s  $750  million  will  go  towards   high-­‐speed  Internet  access  in  classrooms,  software  and  devices  such  as  laptops  and   tablets,  and  even  teacher  training.   So what’s not to like? These are resources to which millions of lower income students don’t have access, and they fuel skills that are increasingly important to professional success. The bottom line is that technology can only take students so far. Although making computer training a priority in the classroom can open important doors, the funding that’s going toward iPads and better wifi is needed in other areas even more—most crucially, toward finally prioritizing teacher salaries. The statistics speak for themselves: in the next few years, more than one million teachers are projected to leave their classrooms; over 10,000 of America’s highest-performing teachers leave each year; surveys show that higher salaries are integral to teacher retention; and American teachers make between 67 and 72 percent of what is expected of someone with a bachelor’s degree. As anyone in the education system knows, a student’s success hinges most fundamentally on the dedication and drive from his instructor. Teachers are America’s most powerful tool when it comes to preparing students to thrive in the professional world and compete globally. Technology fluctuates from year to year, but the value of having a high-performing teacher at the helm of a classroom is priceless. Obama’s technology push is admirable and even necessary, but it’s important that America remembers where its real secret weapon lies.      


Technology in the Classroom