July 29, 2008, 10:36 AM — After getting a personal tour of the King's School in Thailand and studying their distance education program, I was impressed. A country is only as good as the education it can provide for the next generation, and this is a country that takes that challenge seriously.
Then I came back to America. Fifty percent dropout rates in the inner city?! You've got to be kidding! My hometown seems more like a third world country than the real third world countries I've been in. We don't reward good teachers and we can't fire the bad ones, and schools just aren't getting the money they need for good programs. In some communities, we have a culture of anti-education, parents that perpetuate the cycle of ignorance, and schools that do little to rectify the problem.
It's a bigger problem that must have multiple solutions, but at least one of those solutions is in the provisioning of technology. Of course, schools need to spend money on IT--on things like distance learning, computer labs, and back-office automation, and money must be made available for it. A report about state, local, and education (SLED) IT spending patterns shows IT spending being a mixed bag, with big state budget shortfalls. It's varying between states, but those states (like here in Indiana) that are being hit hardest by the mortgage crisis are seeing IT contracts being scaled way back, or eliminated completely. Resellers and solutions providers in these states that target these markets are starting to feel the pinch. The good news for states like Texas though, which are strengthened by their energy-based economies, is that rising energy prices have alleviated fiscal crises.