Classroom technology valued only for 'what it does'

Regarding your May 6 article "US schools need more tech savvy": I was stunned to see the distortion of numbers and rhetoric in this article. A look at the facts: According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which conducts an annual survey on Internet connectivity in schools and classrooms, 99 percent of all schools and 92 percent of all classrooms are connected to the Internet.

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) encourages the effective use of technology in schools for teaching and learning. For this reason, the Bush administration is committed to providing funding for technology in the nation's schools. Under NCLB, investment in education technology has increased from $450 million to $700 million annually - a $2.1 billion investment in the past three years. In addition, the department is supporting new research to the tune of $54 million in 28 different research projects for evaluating technology's effectiveness in the classroom for teaching and learning.

Technology is getting more attention than ever. But we must look beyond simply measuring "inputs" (money and equipment), and instead focus on "outcomes." Are students engaged? Are they receiving individualized instruction? Are they offered expanded options through e-learning?

How the computers are used is more important than counting how many are in buildings. Technology is only a tool and should be valued for what it does, not what it is.
Susan Patrick
Director, Office of Educational Technology, US Department of Education

Poland's politicians aren't listening

Regarding your May 5 editorial "Poland Tarnishes the New EU": First, the comment that Poland "still has much to learn in terms of politics based on interests and compromise, instead of national pride and self-serving corruption" seems slightly patronizing.

Second, Andrzej Lepper's stand against the invasion and occupation of Iraq is popular here because he's the only politician to take a strong stand against the activities of the US. Most people in Poland have never been "for" this war, but most Polish political elite toe the line, scared to upset the US.

The EU is also another matter in which it is hard to find much debate within mainstream Polish politics. There is growing skepticism here about the EU - it's seen as undemocratic, and many Poles feel that they and citizens of other former communist countries are given second-class treament in the "union of equals." This is where Mr. Lepper's opposition to the EU gains traction, as he is again one of the few to express skepticism.

As long as the political mainstream refuses to reflect the aspirations of the population, populists like Lepper will continue to gain support. This is nothing to do with an inability to compromise or self-serving corruption, but reflects the distance between the political elite and the Polish voter.
Peter Gentle

Barrage of 'unimaginative' expletives

Theodore Roszak's April 30 Opinion piece "When everybody sounds like Tony Soprano" points out the boring, unimaginative, vulgar use of expletives in the entertainment industry and the senseless, monotonous mouthing of the "F" word, for instance, where it says nothing in context, and is actually a parody of the word "expletive."

According to one dictionary, expletive is "a word or phrase to fill out ... to provide emphasis ... to give rhythm and balance to a sentence." All languages, including English, have satisfying, pungent expletives when used honestly and clearly.
Rebecca Peck-Jones
Idyllwild, Calif.

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