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K-12 Budget Gets Increase, Here Is How to Spend It

May 18, 2017 by

In a rare case of political rethink, California governor Jerry Brown submitted a new budget that provided more money to schools due to higher than expected revenues. But spending more money on education is only part of the overall equation.

Traditionally underfunded schools have a whole plethora of needs that can swallow up funding like a black hole. The bitter debate begins over how to spend the money. There is little doubt that at this very moment, there are proposals to spend the bulk of the money on the following:

  • Updating antiquated buildings in ill-repair
  • Teacher salaries
  • Books and supplies
  • Athletics programs
  • Music and art

These are all valid expenditures. It comes down to a matter of priority. When kids graduate from these schools, what are their prospects? The reality is that it is increasingly more difficult to land a decent job without computer skills. This is not just true for newer, computer-related jobs. It also applies to more traditional career paths that have changed in recent years.

We must also recognize that computer education is about more than hardware and software usage. It is also about the internet, social media, and mobile devices. Here are just a few of the ways computer education needs to change to accommodate the changing needs of the job market:

Doing Business Online

An MBA is still one of the best paths to a rewarding career in a high-paying field. And while many of the fundamentals of doing business are the same, the methodology has greatly changed in the internet age.

Marketing is a good example of the kind of business fundamental that can no longer be well-served by yesterday’s ideas. Whatever the business content, schools need to teach modern methods of effectively marketing it.

It is easy to see how the information on the page can be the start of a curriculum for a modern business course at the high school level. At some point, location, location, location has to be replaced with search, social, and security.

Social Networking

Computer literacy training has to include managing one’s social networking profile. For some people, the only reason to have a computer is to be on Facebook. According to Statista, only 24% of the US population had a social media profile in 2008. In 2017, that number has risen to 81%. Less than 1 in 5 people are without a social network presence. That number is likely much lower among teens.

The time for formal education on proper conduct and the dangers of misusing social network was 9 years ago when social networking was still ascendant. Today, it is beyond mainstream. It is to the point that employers commonly check one’s social media profile before making a hiring decision.

It is not just the pictures of you behaving badly at that wild party helpfully posted and tagged by your so-called friends. It can also be something as simple as poor spelling and grammar. Right now, there are people not being hired due to their social networking habits. It is just as important a subject as a proper resume.

Online Security

With all the security breaches and hacks of major organizations and businesses, it seems even IT professionals have something to learn about online security, and computer security in general. The need for online security is even greater among the general public, especially for school-age children.

It starts with locking mobile devices with fingerprint, iris scan, and strong passcodes. Use the tools that are available on whatever device you have. Some lessons about using strong passwords, and password managers may be in order.

The current ransomware crisis sweeping Europe is a testament to the fact that we are doing a poor job of teaching the basics like not opening email attachments, and keeping operating systems updated and patched. These things will continue to happen until online safety becomes mainstream curriculum.

Doing business online, social networking, and online security are just three areas where K-12 education is woefully lacking. Today’s education system is based on the needs of the industrial revolution. Tomorrow’s system has to be based on modern technology.

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