Rich Merlo, superintendent of the Corcoran Unified School District has been selected by the U.S. Department of Education as one of 100 top school leaders from across America to participate in the first-ever National Connected Superintendents Summit last Wednesday at the White House.
Superintendent Merlo is among exemplary local school chiefs who were to be recognized for their leadership in helping transition their districts to digital learning. This unique conference was designed to bring together officials from throughout America to share with one another and the Education Department promising approaches to using technology in classes.
“I am looking forward to representing the Corcoran district and community and to be part of a select group of innovators who are experiencing and creating innovative practices that will shape the future of our students,” noted Superintendent Merlo before leaving for Washington.
Over the past few years, Corcoran Unified School District’s vision of a One-to-One Technology Program has come to full fruition of one device for every student in the district in grades K-12. Sixth through eighth grade students have an iPad that they take home with
provided 24/7 internet service, while ninth through 12th grade students have the same internet service with a MacBook. All other students have their individual device to be used at school.
“School districts across the country are helping teachers harness the power of technology to create personal learning environments for all students,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “We want to make sure every child – whether he or she is in the inner-city, in a rural community or on a Native American reservation – has access to knowledge and the chance to learn 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
The White House summit will be followed by a series of 12-15 regional summits that will focus on the digital progress made by local school districts. The events will also include the unveiling of digital tools that facilitate incorporation of technology into short-term and long-range education planning.
To help spotlight the value of technology in schools, the Education Department is sponsoring a Future Ready Initiative aimed at showcasing outstanding school leadership and strategies.
“The Future Ready Initiative highlights the critical role of district leaders in setting a vision and creating the environment where educators and students access the tools, content, and expertise necessary for thriving in a connected world,” said Richard Culatta, director of the Department’s Office of Educational Technology.
Future Ready superintendents demonstrate effective use of technology in some of the following ways:
Fostering and leading a culture of collaboration and digital citizenship;
Transitioning schools and families to high-speed connectivity;
Empowering educators with professional learning opportunities;
Accelerating progress toward universal access to quality devices;
Providing access to quality digital content;
Creating access, equity, and excellence – particularly in rural, remote, and low-income districts;
Offering digital tools to students and families to help them prepare for success in college;
Sharing best practices and mentoring other districts in the transition to digital learning.
“Technology has the potential to transform education in America, allowing students to learn more, to do so at their own pace, and to develop the knowledge and skills employers demand,” Culatta said. “And yet, fewer than 30 percent of classrooms have the broadband internet to support today’s education technology needs.”
In June 2013, President Obama announced the ConnectED Initiative, starting with a goal of connecting 99 percent of students to next-generation connectivity within five years. Model schools and districts across the country are using technology to create personalized learning environments; technology will play an increasingly crucial role in the future. More information on ConnectED Initiative can be found at http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/06/06/what-connected.
For more on the work of the Department’s Office of Educational Technology, including resources for students, parents and educators, go to http://tech.ed.gov/.