“It’s just a flesh wound.”

Fans of Monty Python and The Holy Grail will probably remember the scene where King Arthur and the Black Knight are in a sword fight, and King Arthur hacks away at the spunky Black Knight who perseveres without giving up as he surveys his injuries and proclaims, “It’s just a flesh wound.”

Well, I feel a little like the Black Knight lately.

As an English teacher perhaps I am a little too sensitive to the preciseness of language and the connotations some words carry, but I feel like the media is constantly hacking away at the school district’s one-to-one laptop program. Although the most current article in the Dallas Morning News was not overtly negative, I feel like little “jabs” were taken with some of the wording, that the article lacks cohesion and is a tad misleading.

That being said, let me further explain myself…

Irving school officials may buy smaller, PDA-like laptops to cut the cost of their novel practice of providing a computer to every high school student.” This use of the word “novel” in this sentence is, in my opinion, a little bit of a jab. The denotative meaning of the adjective novel sounds great – new, original, etc., but the connotative meaning is a little less positive and kind of condescending – like when you tell someone that what they said was “IN-teresting” when you clearly mean they are a little “off.” I would have preferred a word like “innovative”. Too picky? Perhaps.

I also wish the author would have taken a little bit of time to explain the district’s reasoning for originally going with the laptops we currently have and provided a more thorough explanation about the replacement costs because I think there is much confusion in the community about this expense. As a consumer I can purchase a lower-end Dell laptop for $550-700, but as soon as I have added a warranty program, software, a bag and an extra battery, I am well over $1000. I am not sure this comes across to the community when they can pick up a sales advertisement from their local “Big Box” electronic store and see a laptop on sale for the low, low price of $499.

Another problem I have is that little was mentioned in the article about alternate ways the district and schools have discussed lowering the costs of the laptop program; the majority of the article was surrounding the district’s decision to “look” at alternate devices such as the XO, the Classmate and eee PC, and although switching to one of these devices might be ONE way of lowering costs, it is certainly not the only way and perhaps not the best way to lower costs.

And, although I understand that it may have been difficult for the DMN to get information for their article, “Irving’s executive director of technology, Alice Owen, did not return calls requesting comment and declined to discuss the plans,” I also do not blame Dr. Owen for not discussing the plans with the DMN. At this point there is nothing concrete to discuss. There is a lot of brainstorming happening and discussion at this point but nothing else… yet. In my opinion, it is not really “news” at this point.

As educators our jobs should extend further than simply helping our students pass the TAKS test or graduate from high school; part of our mission should be to prepare our students for the world they will encounter when they leave the walls of high school. A world where technological and social change is increasing exponentially, where the three R’s are evolving into something new, and where with technology, they can easily be in charge of their own educational growth.

So, what is it I would like from the media? I would like to see some more positive stories about our schools and our students. No, we aren’t perfect, and we never will be. We are, however, here and we are chugging away despite setbacks and trials. And, we care what is best for our students today AND tomorrow and that is what is most important. It would just be nice for people to notice that once in awhile.

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5 Comments on ““It’s just a flesh wound.””


  1. You are the smartest person I know. This is wonderful!


  2. […] Original post by Musings from the Academy […]

  3. Fred Deutsch Says:

    First, I love your blog, but I hote your bubble links — they blow me out of your blog.

    Your comments about technology media coverage is interesting. We’ve had a program similar to yours for about five years. All our 9-12th grade students and all staff receive laptops to take home and use in class. We were the first district in South Dakota to begin the initiative. Now, the governor is on board and is offering grant money for any district interested in doing the same. Of course, the public and the media see only the tip-of-the-iceberg in the laptop program — usually just the laptop machines — they don’t see all the tremendous work involved in staff development and integrating the technology into the coursework. There is no question in my mind that technology will play an ever increasing role in American education — as it should!

    Fred Deutsch
    School Board Member
    Watertown, SD

  4. anon Says:

    At TSPRA’s annual conference last week the incoming president gave a great speech about this. Across the entire room, filled with Communications and PR specialists from school districts throughout Texas, everyone nodded their heads in agreement with him: the evening news loves to lead with sensationalist — or outright false — stories about local schools. These same media outlets do _NOT_ report on the huge number of successes. Reporting those successes, therefore, falls to the districts themselves.

    Anyways, I want to say you’re not alone. And, in my opinion, local media (WFAA, DMN, etc) really aren’t that important any more. Demand for news is increasingly depending on things that these outlets can’t provide: speed (give me live updates throughout the day), convenience (give me RSS), specialization (give me Will Richardson, not “Random Journalist Currently Assigned to the Education Beat”), interactivity (anonymous comments, trackbacks). Usually, the schools are slow to adapt, but we’re actually doing OK when it comes to things like blogs and RSS — it’s mainstream media that’s falling behind.


  5. Thank you all for your encouraging comments! You all are great!


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