Asking Fayette Students a Question...

Fri, 01/16/2009 - 10:18am
By: sniffles5

I'd like to ask a question to current Fayette county students:

What is your opinion on the technology used in Fayette County schools? Is it current or obsolete? Do your teachers make good use of technology or are they hopelessly clueless?

I've heard wildly mixed stories about Fayette's technology so I thought I'd ask the ones most exposed to it.

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diablo_ogre's picture
Submitted by diablo_ogre on Tue, 02/03/2009 - 9:38am.

As someone that works in the Audio/Visual field it's a shame more schools don't have AV people to help out. I do most of my work at conference centers and trade shows and have to keep up with newer technologies, i.e. using flash drives external hard drives setting up and taking down routers and hubs to run internet access etc. The biggest issue is the IT dept are so scared of viruses they don't want anything that can be potentially uploaded to the school systems network.

On that note they should have an AV staffer there to help with not only setting up web conferences, dvd and power point displays but also if kids are going to use a flash drive have a separate computer not attached to the network that a trusted staffer can scan each kids flash drive as they come into the class, It may slow things up a tad but in the end will save time because they can continue there work later. If they had 2 people they could also help teachers in updating the gradebook program vs the teacher having to input this data so they can concentrate on there main job teaching.

The other solution are to different internet networks. one that only students can access and one that is only for business purposes that run from 2 entirely different switches.

Submitted by Split Decision on Sun, 01/18/2009 - 6:03am.

My children attend a Fayette County high school and our experience has been the same as another poster stated: As long as the teachers input the grades in a timely manner, students and parents alike have a pretty accurate idea of the current grade. But, if the teacher lags behind with inputting grades, which is not uncommon by any means, then that pretty much defeats the whole point of the program.

Hopelessly clueless? Our high school functions on a high level of paranoia regarding the use of UBS flash drives. When students begin writing a paper on the computers at school, they are told if they don't finish it at school, there is no way they can send it home, via email or flash drive, so they can complete it at home. If the student has begun a paper at home, and needs to take the unfinished paper to school to work on in class or with partners of a group via a flash drive, the school's stance is there is a very high probability the outside flash drive will introduce viruses to the whole school's computer network. Unfortunately, that same attitude applies to the disabled students who use a school laptop, yet don't work fast enough to finish assignments at school and need to complete them for homework. This is like a double disadvantage for those students who already have more than enough challenges to try to overcome.

sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Wed, 01/21/2009 - 1:09pm.

Split, I have to tell you that I initially doubted your claim regarding flash drives being banned from Fayette schools.

All of my kids have had to do semester-long projects that involved powerpoint presentations on US presidents. I've shown all my kids...and their friends!... how to pack multimedia files (video and audio clips) onto a flash drive along with the actual presentation, so that they can work on them at home and at school.

Last evening at dinner I asked them about those flash drives being banned. The answer was eye-opening.

"Oh yeah, on the first day of school every year they tell us not to use them or bring them to school....then all our teachers tell us to ignore that rule".


I guess I owe you an apology for doubting you! Smiling

Palin-Nugent 2012

Submitted by Split Decision on Thu, 01/22/2009 - 9:14am.

It's okay, but you don't owe me an apology. Smiling

I realize the attitude and actions toward flash drives that I related sounds crazy in this day and time, but it's still so very prevalent. Our family has had the same conversation as your family did, with all of our children giving us the same answer! On a side note, what does it tell our children when their teachers blatantly tell them to ignore a school-wide rule? Hmmmmm.

I have an inkling the flash drive ban is issued by the FCBOE Technology Dept., yet it's the teachers who have the common sense and usage who have determined they don't present a corridor for passage of viruses to infect the school's network. I do wish all concerned would get on the same page - for the students' sake, if nothing else. (wishful thinking)

diva's picture
Submitted by diva on Tue, 02/03/2009 - 1:23am.

The federal govt, including the U.S. military, has a similar ban on USB drives, flash drives, SD cards, etc. due to viruses spreading through executable files stored on such flash memory devices...... Really stinks too. This takes away such a valuable resource, but there are idiots out there who thrive on writing and spreading malware. I wish we could catch them and do really, really bad things to people like that...... really bad things.....

mapleleaf's picture
Submitted by mapleleaf on Sun, 01/18/2009 - 8:12am.

It is easy, as well as wise, to perform a virus scan on a USB flash drive.

Administrators and students should be taught how to perform a virus scan on a USB flash drive. It's generally brand new flash drives that can provide the most exposure to a virus.

Then the school administrators can require students who bring a flash drive to school for use on school computers to subject it to a virus scan first. It's that simple, and pretty quick.

E-mailing out documents created in school as attachments presents absolutely no threat to the school system. Receiving a document (say, an assignment begun at home) attached to an e-mail is usually not dangerous, as e-mail providers generally scan all attachments for viruses before delivering them.

Our school administrators are displaying ignorance and arrogance as much as paranoia with their petty rules. Somebody has to stand up to them and tell them to smarten up. That's up to us, the taxpaying public, because the students (and often their parents) can be retaliated against when they speak up.

Students with disabilities have special rights under the law, and it may take a lawsuit to cause the school board to listen up. It's unfortunate, but quite often bureaucrats listen to nobody but judges, and it is the public's money that's being spent on the lawsuits school boards lose.

Submitted by Split Decision on Mon, 01/19/2009 - 8:45am.

You, my friend, point out some very important facts regarding the usage of flash drives in schools.

Unfortunately, our school's most prominent front office secretary and the technology person (who is not a teacher, just a parapro) know no more about the technical aspects of flash drives than the average monkey in the Atlanta Zoo. As I first said, they operate on a high level of {uninformed} paranoia which also helps guide their decision-making and they'd rather get nasty and condescending while telling a parent why their student can not bring a flash drive to school to use.

Submitted by ptcmom678 on Sun, 01/18/2009 - 9:45am.

We have (purposefully) one computer in our home and it is in the living room to facilitate parental monitoring. It WOULD be a great help to my high school student to be able to type at home when it's quiet, load it into a flash drive and take it to school to print in the media center. I don't let him e-mail it to teachers because I feel it's my student's responsibility to get the work retrieved and printed, not the teachers. Aside from which, they have enough uses for their annual box of copy paper without having to print out anything of my kid's.

On Gradebook, it is wonderful when it is updated. It seems to be taking a long time this semester for teachers to set up. and I can't help but wonder if it's connected to teacher morale. If I were a FCBOE teacher, I would not want to give up my personal time to help out the board that had just wanted to take my raise back. It's called human nature.


Submitted by Split Decision on Mon, 01/19/2009 - 8:32am.

I may not have made myself clear in my first post. In NO WAY was I suggesting students email papers/reports TO teachers. My point is about students emailing works-in-progress FROM school to a home email address to complete and print out at home. Emails to teachers should only be for communication, not for turning in assignments.

My children's use of flash drives at school has solely been for working within group projects (then printed out at home) or for PPT (power point) presentations.

Submitted by ptcmom678 on Wed, 01/21/2009 - 6:18am.

on the emailing home, though sometimes what's e-mailed home doesn't come through promptly, and students can't pull up their home e-mail to check if it's gone through in school. I think it's just been relatively recently (last 2 years) that students have even been able to e-mail to home. Has a flash drive ever appeared on your school supply list? Just curious because it seems like some things on the older kids' supply list never get used, but I don't think I've ever seen a flash drive ON the list. You know, I'm actually thinking about checking out some of the private schools in the county. We moved here due to the schools, can't pay private school tuition easily, and thought this day would surely never some. Sad, really.


Submitted by Split Decision on Thu, 01/22/2009 - 9:35am.

I can't recall a flash drive EVER being on any school supply list for any of my children. Although, during those first days of school, they have come home TELLING me they need a flash drive to be used for a particular class, yet it's never been in writing. And I wholeheartedly agree with you saying things ON the high schooler's supply lists don't ever get used. That irritates me because I find that wasteful.

Unfortunately I've already beaten you to the point of checking into our area's private schools. For our needs, I didn't find an obvious choice that would solve most, or at least some, of our greatest issues with our public school system. We also moved here for the schools, and could not fathom why we knew so many families who lived in Fayette County, yet paid for their children to attend a private school. That's like a double whammy - living in an expensive county AND paying for private school. Our family can not afford it in addition to having children in college, too. (because HOPE doesn't pay for everything!) Let me know what you find and decide to do.

Submitted by ptcmom678 on Thu, 01/22/2009 - 4:22pm.

in Tyrone has an open house this Saturday from 10-12 that we're going to check out. There is a total student population of 274, but has an average class size of 26. Knowing teachers, they'll keep an eye on former pupils as the kids advance though. I am a non-Catholic, but have very fond memories of going to parochial schools in Chicago due to their school system. I know what you mean on the costs. We stayed here for the last 12 years due to the school system and it's astonishing to be thinking about relocating. Maybe next year will bring some improvements. How long does the current school board have anyway?

Submitted by thecueman on Wed, 01/28/2009 - 6:09pm.

I occaisionally drop in on the school discussions as they are always interesting. I have to say that my daughter (McIntosh grad) graduated from Emory with a full scholorship. My son (McIntosh grad) graduated from Pitt with a jurisprudence and MBA combination. Of course I'm bragging, but they were products of these local public schools. Are we sure the benifits gap between private and public schools is any larger now compared to 10 ot 20 years ago.
As far as school supplies we always had to pay for specific colored folders and other painful requests that the store ran out of 10 minutes after the supply list came out. Nothing like driving to Morrow to find out they were bought out in purple folders also. I bring this up because I agree with many of you that the hard fought win of supplies was painfully overshadowed by the suspicion that they were never used.
Lastly get the thumb drives and fight for their right to use them. The century clock rolled over 9 years ago and our kids better keep up for their sake.

Submitted by Split Decision on Thu, 01/29/2009 - 12:22am.

Go ahead and brag about your children's wonderful accomplishments - you should be very proud of them - I say Congratulations to all of you!!!! It's nice hear a positive experience, unfortunately those are becoming fewer and farther between.

I had to nod my head in total agreement with your mention of the required purple folder, as we have been on those hunts many times ourselves.

Please join us in the fight for the students' use of thumb drives! We need your help and you sound like a very level-headed individual who would easily make logical points TPTB in the FCBOE could understand. You would be an asset by simply sending emails . . . Smiling

Submitted by ptcmom678 on Wed, 01/28/2009 - 6:57pm.

Actually, we were fairly impressed and are thinking seriously about it for middle school. The computer person stresses things you'll use after you leave school - Excel, PowerPoint, Word, etc. and the things the third-graders were doing with Excel were amazing - and fun! The 6th grade teacher nailed it when she pointed out that with a uniform, you couldn't tell what the family finances are. In most PTC schools, the dress code is flexibly applied, and it's easy to tell from the brand names being worn just what kind of credit cards Daddy has. One really telling thing about the school and the teacher dedication it inspires - several teachers are driving down there from Gwinnett County. The students we saw really liked the school. Both my middle school grads rated their experience as ones they would never want to repeat - and they didn't get in any trouble at school, it was just the atmosphere. Fayette County schools (and the county) HAVE changed in the last 10-15 years, and the larger class size won't help. Good teachers, tied hands due to NCLB.

Submitted by TyroneTerror on Fri, 01/16/2009 - 11:27am.

My children attend a local high school and from my perspective they do a pretty good job of using the technology. Most of the Teachers have Web pages and they put Notes, homework, and study guides there. Its really convenient and gives absent syudents no excuse to know what went on in their class and every student the opportunity to make sure they got the right notes in class.

My Grade Book is great too, as long as teachers input grades in a timely manner. If they do, there should be no surprises for parents or students come progress report time.

The School homepages seem pretty good also. Most of the schools have a calendar of upcoming events and they post things of importance to parents and students alike. There usually are links to every teacher's or administrator's email addresses there too. We have had exceptionallly good luck in communicating with their teachers via e-mail.

As for the computers in the computer lab I couldn't say. They do seem adequate for the typing of papers and such that most students need.

sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Fri, 01/16/2009 - 11:41am.

I'd heard about, but never really looked into it.

I noticed that it was referred to quite often in the Fayette strategic plan. The mygradebook application is being used in the middle and high schools now, and there was a question as to whether there was a benefit to rolling this out to all the elementary schools as well (at a cost of $60,000).

I asked my kids about mygradebook and was surprised to learn that ALL of them used it, and quite often....I had no idea! It's become the preferred means of checking your grades. I have a co-worker who has kids in the Coweta system, they're using it in every grade.

One huge concern I have with mygradebook is the fact that it is fed with student data from the monolithic SASI Student Information program. This prevents having to re-key all the student's names, schedules, teachers, etc.

Unfortunately, the SASI student information program will need to be replaced this year (state mandate, it's very old and doesn't have much of the upcoming reporting requirements). The proposed replacement system for SASI does NOT integrate into the mygradebook application (it claims to have it's own gradebook subsystem).

My concern is that the BOE will need to A) hire expensive consultants to re-integrate the two systems, or B) discard the mygradebook app ($45,000 spent plus major hours training) and introduce a new application.

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