Oct 31 2006

From the Editor (2006)

Aided by new technology, schools are improving not only how they communicate with parents, but how they protect students.

A Parent's Perspective
Delve into EdTech’sarticles to find out how a growing number of schools are using technology to keep students safe and engage parents in the educational process.

Susie Sullivan

SEVERAL YEARS AGO, I WAS a substitute teacher at my son and daughter’s middle school. Being in the building made it easy to find out what was going on and also made it convenient for teachers to get in touch with me. But arrangements like this aren’t the norm. When it comes to our children’s educations, parents’ need for information starts in preschool and doesn’t end until graduation from high school or college. The types of information we need are increasingly complex. Ten years ago, I was interested in homework assignments and whether my kids played well with others. Now, I want information on college preparatory classes and aptitude tests.

Given the busy lives most parents lead, we need an easy, effective way to communicate with teachers and schools. That’s where parent portals come in. Bernard Percy and Mark Gura examine the importance of school Web sites designed for parents in “Power to the Parents ” on page 28.

Today, the physical and virtual safety of children is a growing concern among educators and parents. School districts are implementing sophisticated monitoring systems to ensure students’ safety.

Ed Tech awarded a Tinfoil Star to Florida’s Hernando County Schools for creating a safety and security program to monitor visitors. It’s a challenging job to track not only the whereabouts of the district’s 21,000-plus students and 3,700 staff members, but also the volunteers, vendors and visitors at the schools. The tracking features combined with state-mandated background checks keep students safer. For more on how Hernando County Schools use technology to solve a problem or fulfill a dream — in this case keeping schoolkids safe — go to “Serious About Security ” on page 23.

Some schools use biometrics in their quest to ensure students’ safety. The Ontario-Montclair School District in Ontario, Calif., is using fingerprint technology on buses to monitor students’ arrivals and departures. Biometric technologies are being used to pay for lunches, take attendance and dispense medications. They’re also used in lieu of logon passwords, which increases system security. “Biometrics Goes to School ” starts on page 50.

This edition of Ed Tech contains columns and articles written by K-12 IT specialists and educators. On page 7 , John Case, technology coordinator at Ohio Hi-Point Career Center, shares his experiences in implementing a one-to-one notebook PC program. The vital role played by principals who embrace technology is underscored by Bill Morrison in “Get the Principal on Board ” on page 16. As a parent, I’m heartened by the dedication, enthusiasm and creativity these people bring to our children’s education, and I thank them for their willingness to share their expertise with Ed Tech readers.

Susie Sullivan, Senior Editor