During COVID-19, many institutions had to switch to an online format. Teachers had to move their lessons to online platforms such as Zoom instead of classes taught at school. In New York, Governor Cuomo is discussing reopening schools, but with a new vision in mind. Cuomo wants to “reimagine education” with Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Their vision is to implement more technology in the education system, possibly eliminating the need for school buildings. This strategy would be helpful in light of COVID-19 and social distancing.
Countless research confirms technology’s role in improving education. A report by the Alliance for Excellent Education and SCOPE has found that technology can improve student achievement and engagement, especially among at-risk students. The move to technology in education makes sense when considering that the world is becoming increasingly technological. There is a prediction that AI will create 58 million jobs over the next few years. The sooner our youth get accustomed to using technology, the more they will be prepared for future careers in technology.
Despite the benefits technology can bring to the classroom, Cuomo has received backlash from teachers. The critics are those who have had previous bad experiences with other education reforms funded by Gates. These past reforms utilized valuable resources and had little to no payout. One report found that the Gates Foundation’s Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching (IP) Initiative ended up having more downsides than upsides.
New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta pushed back against Cuomo and the Gates Foundations ideas for education reform. Instead, Pallotta asked for more social workers, mental health counselors, school nurses, enriched arts courses, advanced courses, and smaller class sizes. Pallotta and many other teachers also questioned why Cuomo did not ask them for advice on school reform instead of the Gates Foundation.
While technology could have the potential to change education for the better, approaching the subject is not straightforward. The Gates Foundation has made the mistake of not executing their plans well enough before. Cuomo has considered many questions when looking at the future of education and technology. Hopefully, this means Cuomo, New York State, and the Gates Foundation will be careful when moving forward with their educational reform.