In Wednesday’s CNN/YouTube debate, Sen. John McCain let slip a fairly stunning admission. The Arizona Republican assured viewers that he wouldn’t need to lean on his vice president, George W. Bush-style, for national security expertise, but might “rely on a vice president” for help on less important issues such as “information technology, which is the future of this nation’s economy.”
Surely he didn’t say that. Right? I mean, how could he consider information technology “less important” while also saying the “future of this nation’s economy” is built around it? Herein lies our problems.
Legislators and congressmen are really good about trumpeting the importance of technology and its use in the classroom. They seem to realize its importance in the future of our society (as evidenced by the economy statement) and that without question our nation’s teachers and students should be masters of its use. Graduating high school and college students without the prerequisite technology skills is considered a travesty. But then they turn back around and either cut/eliminate spending on edtech or say something stupid like what the presidential hopeful said above. When it comes to technology, presidents and other national leaders have had such classic statements as “the Google” or “the Internets.” There is more than one? Are you kidding me? And we should vote for people like that? What if these same folks said things like “those Irans” or “I will only get consultation on less important things like hunger in America.” Would we accept that from a national leader we have elected to be our representative in the international spotlight?
When you consider we are on the verge of standardized testing for technology proficiency in Texas, surely we need someone who understands that you cannot teach such skills without the equipment. Equipment requires funding. Then again, it really is not about the equipment directly but more indirectly. Still, you cannot do it without the required materials.
You see, the aforementioned candidate does have it right in one way. A priority is information literacy. Our students and staff need to understand the importance of navigating the overwhelming amount of information they are receiving at ever increasing speeds. Students are required to master more and more earlier and earlier. Why they do not have the manipulation of much of that information channeled through technology tools (hardware and software, fixed and mobile, direct source and collaborative, etc.) is a little disheartening. It is cheating them in many aspects because they are going to face it in that manner after the PK-12 days are over whether they are prepared or not.
It is too easy to say the problem with our politicians is caused by a generational gap. That is ludicrous to consider as a valid excuse in today’s times (we don’t accept with our educators). What if we allow politicians to place the same treatment on other issues near and dear to our hearts? Literacy. Health Care. Poverty. AIDS.
So again I must ask, is this the type of comment we want any of our leaders to make?
I am not endorsing any candidate or party within this post. What I am advocating is that we make ourselves more educated on the candidates with the issues important to our classes full of kids, not to mention our personal futures as citizens in this great nation. McCain is expecting his VP to understand such trivial topics like information technology. Isn’t it very likely his VP choice would come from the group of folks standing next to him on the debate stage? Don’t believe that “your” candidate can just have someone really good on staff to take care of what they do not know about. They must truly understand the importance of the issues.
By the way, were you aware that one of the parties nearly did not have a CNN/YouTube debate? Too many of its candidates were scared of what it (the ability for citizens to ask questions via video online) had to offer. Funny how technology can do that to the uninformed. Don’t let our students end up like that. Uninformed in technology = illiterate in technology. Illiterate in technology = “Would you like fries with that?”