Parents, make your voices heard because schools have embraced tech big-time, with a lot of reform and financial encouragement from politicians, tech folks, and textbook publishers, too.

Take the $8.5 billion textbook giant Pearson’s recent shift from print to digital, announcing that future updates of its 1,500 U.S. titles will happen digitally. Progress? An academic push into the 21st century? A student cost-saving move?

Whatever you want to call it, Pearson’s CEO John Fallon says, “We’ve reached a tipping point” and, according to him, “The $300 textbook is dead.”

Tipping point, indeed, and yet…

  1. Teachers continually voice concerns about the negative effects of on-screen reading, yet their classrooms overflow with tech devices at a cost of ongoing billions—much to the glee of textbook publishers and tech giants.
  2. A Learning Agency’s quantitative analysis found that “the more hours American 4th and 8th grade students spend every day on computers during English/language arts, the lower their reading scores. Math scores did not slip as much.
  3. A June Reboot Foundation report on classroom tech found that on international assessments, “the more students used tech in schools, the lower the nation ranked in education achievement.”
  4. A study by the American Institutes for Research found that Massachusetts students who took the 2015 state exam online did significantly worse than those who took the paper version—and lower-performing, special education, and English language learners did the worst.
  5. A recent meta-analysis of some 33 research studies by University of North Dakota’s Virginia Clinton found that “reading from paper has a small, statistically significant benefit on reading performance” and that “readers using paper saw better performance without having to expend more time or effort.”

    Says Clinton, “There is legitimate concern that reading on paper may be better in terms of performance and efficiency.”

In other words: Paper beats screens if you want your kids understanding what’s read, remembering it, and drawing connections, especially from expository text.

Writes teacher, blogger, and education advocate Stephen Singer: “Even under the best of circumstances, the act of reading on a device is different than reading a printed page… The old style of reading was transformative, absorbing on a much deeper, richer experience. The newer style is more superficial, mechanical, and extrinsic…”

And that should be the bottom line, yet…

Waterford Upstart’s “kindergarten readiness program” for 4-year-olds is almost entirely online. In 2019, some 16,000 “graduated,” and, by 2020, the company predicts that number will hit 22,000.

Oh, yes… Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has now signed a “flexible instruction days” bill allowing schools to replace snow days and the like with lessons read online at home.

Am really glad I’m not a kid anymore…

With thanks, Carol (