More on technology in the classroom

I want to follow up on my blog from July 2. I mentioned that the Governor’s Task Force on Educational Excellence recommended various program increases. I then blasted technology in primary grade classrooms as a waste of funding. I still stand by my opinion, but I have more to add.

I was watching the Rocky marathon on the American Movie Classics network the other night (yes, I stayed up late). I’m not a big fan of boxing, but I really enjoy a good underdog film, especially when it’s about Sylvester Stalone’s protagonist Rocky. So I stayed up to watch the entire Rocky IV showing (until 2:00 a.m.!). This is the one where a Soviet boxer Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) is trained using the latest in Soviet technology (and most of it looks like something out of a 21st century training facility). Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) fights Drago in an exhibition match and dies after taking too many very powerful blows from the Soviet. Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stalone) then agrees to fight Drago in Russia. While Drago continues to increase his power, strength, speed, and endurance using the latest training and measuring equipment (increasing his punching strength from 1,850 PSI to 2,145 PSI), Rocky is in some backwoods area of Russia, surrounded by snow and mountains, training in an old barn or out in the
snow, and using rocks, the barn’s frame, and old wagon, or whatever other “junk” is available. In the end, Rocky beats the Soviet in 15 rounds with a knock-out.

My point here is that despite all this great technology that’s available to the heavyweight champion who seems to have it all (he buys his brother-in-law a full-sized service robot for his birthday… and this was 1985), he still relies on his ingenuity, innovativeness, and the natural world to acquire the practically impossible achievement of surviving one of the deadliest fights of his life. In this movie, technology fails and is certainly no substitute for the heart and hunger that Rocky Balboa fights with. Yeah, there is another message about everyone changing and how the Cold War is wrong, but that’s not the element I am referring to. So my bottom-line point is that technology is a useful tool, but it’s not a substitute for good old-fashioned education.

Another point I want to make is the increasing of the State Sales Tax to cover increasing educational needs. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“But the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, which advises lawmakers on tax issues, warns that the sales tax ‘has generally been thought to be regressive because the proportion of an individual’s or family’s income devoted to consumption declines as income increases.’

That means the sales tax hits a Wisconsin family with an income of $40,000 proportionally much harder than a family that brings home $100,000 a year.”

As I mentioned the other day, a sales tax affects more families. Here is a nonpartisan legislative service agency stating some more simple economics about a flat rate sales tax. So how does this negatively affect a lower income household? It’s simple math (and something that I learned way back in high school). Let’s use the current five percent Wisconsin sales tax (excluding county and other sales taxes). If a family earning $40,000 buys goods for the year at $5,000, it spends $250 in sales tax, or about 0.62 percent of its income. A second family that earns the $100,000 buys goods at $10,000 for the year and spends $500 in taxes, or about 0.5 percent of its income. If the first family tried to keep up with the second family and spent $10,000 in goods for the year, it would actually spend about 1.25 percent of its income in sales tax. So the sales tax is regressive because households that make less money pay more of their income in taxes. To learn more, click here.

Is it me, or have I been blogging a lot lately? I guess I have way too much on my mind lately.