Technology spending was the Sitka school board’s most controversial decision during its last budget cycle. In February, the board authorized spending nearly $900,000 in federal stimulus funding on technology — money it hopes will be used to integrate technology into the teaching experience at all levels.

The “Did You Know” film avoids head-to-head comparisons of education in the United States and other countries. Instead, it points to more basic statistics to suggest that by standing still, the US risks going backwards. The film claims that India and China graduate three times as many college students each year, 100-percent of whom speak English. It projects that China is just six years away from becoming number one English-speaking nation in the world.

In the following excerpt of his chamber presentation, Bradshaw contends that education is a primary tool for keeping the US competitive:

“We have got to move on, folks. If some of those figures didn’t frighten you, here’s something that will: China and India both have more gifted and talented students than we have students. Think about that. We think we have an idea of what the world’s going to be like thirty or forty years from now, and if we’re not educating our kids, if we’re not doing everything we possibly can, we’re not going to have what we have in this country today. And I know people get tired of school administrators talking about education, and needing more resources, but folks, in my mind we’re in a battle for our country. If we’ve got forty-percent of our student population dropping out in this country, then we have to change what we’re doing. If we only have twenty-five percent of our students getting a college education, we need to change what we’re doing. If we want the United States to be what it once was, what it to me it currently still is, we have to educate our citizens. There are just no two ways around it. I go and see Bert (Stedman, Senate R-Sitka) every year and ask for money. He goes, When is this guy going to stop? I’ll never stop folks. I’m sorry, education is not cheap, and I will never, ever apologize for it. Because I need quality teachers in the classroom, I need environments that are sound for students, I need the technology that the students are going to be using in their lifetimes. I’m betting most of you sitting have an iPhone, or one of the phones that you can take pictures on. What are our kids’ and grandchildrens’ lives going to be like fifty years from now? I think it’s going to be tremendously exciting, but we have to get back to valuing education, and we have to understand that education is not just kindergarten through twelfth – it’s a lifelong process – and that when you show excitement as an adult to any student you see, when you show excitement about what it’s like to learn something, that’s going to encourage them to do better in school.”

Sitka school district superintendent Steve Bradshaw speaking to the Sitka Chamber of Commerce.

Bradshaw prefaced his comments by saying that it was impossible to know what schools would look like in fifteen years, but “the key part of education will always be the teacher.”
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