There’s a fair amount of justifiable hand-wringing going on across the nation over the state of the states’ education budgets in our current economically stressed environment. Here in Vancouver, Wash., in my own hometown newspaper (which is itself facing bankruptcy proceedings, but that’s another story of economic woes), a story in this morning’s issue notes: "After reading through the proposed [Washington State] House and Senate budgets, Vancouver Public Schools’ officials estimate the district could face a $5.6 million to $8 million shortfall next year."
But most educators tend to be an optimistic lot. After all, they’re dedicated to building a better future by working with the children who will be that future. And they’re nothing if not creative in finding ways to hew to their mission, whatever the challenges.
To that end, I want to signal several pieces in this month’s Multimedia & Internet@Schools that speak to the issue of saving money plus stretching and efficiently using resources to help you keep on keeping on in your educational mission.
In Curriki and the Open Educational Resources Movement: Please Pass the Curriculum! (p. 8), Peter Levy discusses Curriki.org’s collection of free and open source content and collaboration tools and, among other things, how they can impact budgets and engage educators. "The potential impact of a large, free, and open repository of high-quality resources and tools to collaborate on content development is seismic," he writes. "It means that, potentially, districts will no longer need to buy a single, expensive textbook or workbook or instructional activities. …" Read on and save.
Then, in Partnering With the Public Library on Web 2.0 Tools for Student Research (p. 14), Tasha Squires and Mary Golden offer compelling reasons and effective ways for school and public librarians to collaborate and share resources on behalf of their shared clientele, the youth who reside in their districts. From the public librarian’s standpoint, for example, the authors note, "Public libraries run on numbers: The more usage their databases receive, the more likely they are to continue subscribing to the databases. And the better their reference statistics from helping [school librarians’] students are, the more likely they are to enjoy cooperating. Many public libraries will gladly send out a public librarian to instruct students and teachers on how to navigate the public library’s databases." Again, read on and save—both time and money.
And the third piece in this budget-stretcher trilogy? It’s Mary Ann Bell’s column, this month entitled Look Before You Leap (p. 40). In her inimitable way, Mary Ann offers helpful advice: "This article is one of those ‘do as I say, not as I do’ missives. … There is a dirty little secret out there in school land, and it involves money and time wasted due to poor purchasing." You get the point. Now read Mary Ann’s May/June Belltones!
David Hoffman , editor