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'Disservice' is a powerful word [Editorial]

It’s about time someone in Harford County Public Schools leadership showed the courage to use a powerful word like “disservice” to describe how our education system is failing our students at the most fundamental level.

Technology is ubiquitous. Desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets, big smartphones, smaller smartphones, you name it and it’s out there. The devices are in the hands of everyone – young and old – except for many Harford County Public Schools students when class is in session.

“There are a great number of our students who have graduated in the last year or two, who are going to start a job where they’re going to be handed a tablet computer,” school board member Tom Fitzpatrick said recently. “They’re going to be expected to be comfortable with how to use it as a daily tool for business. Not familiarizing them with that, not putting them in an academic environment where [the device] becomes an everyday tool of life – like papers or pencils or draft paper when I was a kid … is a disservice.”

There it is. Harford County Public Schools is doing a disservice to our kids, at least according to one school board member. Fitzpatrick’s comments came during discussions about approving a plan for funding some, but not enough, technology upgrades.

Another board member, Robert Frisch, took a pragmatic approach and cautioned his colleagues about approving a plan they may not be able to fund in coming years.

Other board members, including Jansen Robinson, who also invoked the “disservice” word to criticize the school system for not having enough technology for students, quickly shot down Frisch’s suggestion.

There are all kinds of opinions and philosophies about technology for large groups, from government employees to public schools students, but the one area where there’s no debate is that everyone’s gotta have it. How many office workers at a company of any size do you think don’t have a computer dedicated for them? Not many, not many. The same should be true for Harford County Public Schools students.

Technology is expensive, hard to keep functioning properly and frequently in need of updating or replacing. The only thing more costly than having technology is not having it.

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