May 22, 2017 Salem-Keizer School Board testimony

My name is Ross Swartzendruber. I am a taxpayer and parent of three children in the Salem-Keizer School District. I am writing in opposition to funding any personalized learning software or 1:1 Chromebooks as proposed in the 2017-18 budget. Personalized learning software like McGraw Hill’s Redbird may be included in General Fund Object Code 470 Computer Software ($1,999,780) and 1:1 Chromebooks in 480 Computer Hardware ($1,426,135).

These types of computer software and hardware purchases fail to improve student outcomes and create too many risks for our children and communities. More screen time means increased risk of obesity. Screen time reduces opportunities to engage in multiple learning styles like kinesthetics, verbal, environmental and especially social. Loss of socialization disconnects learners from face-to-face communication and nonverbal emotional cues. Research from University of California, Los Angeles, claims that increased screen time may be inhibiting students’ ability to recognize emotion. Tablet use has been linked to pain developing in children’s fingers and wrists, narrowed blood vessels in their eyes and neck and back pain from poor posture.

Some experts believe that “Children who are heavy users of electronics may become adept at multitasking, but they can lose the ability to focus on what is most important, a trait critical to the deep thought and problem solving needed for many jobs and other endeavors later in life.” . An adrenaline driven mentality to learning (like addiction). As one psychologist’s research findings prove, “As a practitioner, I observe that many of the children I see suffer from sensory overload, lack of restorative sleep, and a hyper-aroused nervous system, regardless of diagnosis—what I call electronic screen syndrome.These children are impulsive, moody, and can’t pay attention…excessive screen-time appears to impair brain structure and function. Much of the damage occurs in the brain’s frontal lobe, which undergoes massive changes from puberty until the mid-twenties.”

Data privacy is also major concern. Before you approve these unproven technologies, please provide peer-reviewed empirical evidence that funding personalized learning software or 1:1 Chromebooks will improve student outcomes.

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