I was just reading through the Edutopia website when I happened across an article entitled Freedom of Information: How a Wisconsin School District Ditched Internet Filters. This article explains how their new Director of Information, Tim Peltz, opened up his district’s internet access. He provided access to most websites, discussion boards, online chats, Skype, streaming video and even web-based email services. Would you believe that he even provided access to YouTube and Facebook. Edutopia reported that the only content that he blocked “was ‘adult’ (sexual) sites and what Peltz calls ‘hardcore extreme views’ such as websites of violent gangs.”
WOW!!!! How can Peltz do this? He has the passion. He believes that hiding the Internet from the students will not provide students with an opportunity to learn to use these technologies responsibly. He believes that teaching tomorrow’s students requires today’s online opportunities.
When asked about whether this would be a problem in their being eligible for the federal e-rate telecommunications discount, he said “I feel that if teachers and staff are showing the kids how to use the technology in an appropriate, productive manner, we’ll be in compliance.”
Peltz joined forces across the Racine Unified School District as well. He consolidated the technology budgets of Title I, Special Education, ESL, building services and specific subject areas into a single technology account. Using his newly-found resources, he was able to lease 8,000 Apple computers (increase of 23% over previous year) and save an estimated $200,000 in energy costs. This included a new Apple MacBook Pro laptop computer for each of their 1,600 teachers. YIPPPEEE!
Tim Peltz is definitely a man with a plan. He shows how sometimes we need to rethink the accepted way of doing things and “Think Different.”
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