Editorial: Get what you pay for
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Nov 11, 2013 | 1682 views |  0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In this file photo, Piedmont fourth-grader Jaxon Morris, 10, and his sister, Aly, 15, a Piedmont High freshman, make use of the school system’s city-wide wireless Internet system. Photo: Eddie Burkhalter/The Anniston Star/file
In this file photo, Piedmont fourth-grader Jaxon Morris, 10, and his sister, Aly, 15, a Piedmont High freshman, make use of the school system’s city-wide wireless Internet system. Photo: Eddie Burkhalter/The Anniston Star/file
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Piedmont City Councilwoman Mary Bramblett told listeners at a council meeting last week that the city’s public schools “are the best thing Piedmont has going for it.”

If that’s the case, then why would the council ever think of doing something to downgrade the schools’ excellence?

It shouldn’t. Piedmont’s schools are undisputable members of Calhoun County’s academic all-stars. The small-town example they set, especially in terms of implementing technology into the classroom, is anything but small-time.

That said, we hope Bramblett and her fellow council members will resume monthly $6,250 payments for a home wireless network to connect to the school-issued laptops used by Piedmont students. Without ready access to the Internet, Piedmont’s students can’t take full advantage of the laptops and emphasis school officials there have placed on using the Web as a constant educational tool.

The backstory is important here. At one point, Piedmont enjoyed citywide Internet access thanks in part to a Federal Communications Commission grant, with the city helping with the cost. The grant ran out in March, and the city stopped its contribution to the Internet bill a year ago at the request of former Mayor Rick Freeman.

The Internet service was turned back on in August because the school system was able to negotiate a lower monthly cost with its provider. Students within the district are using home Internet paid for by the system. Families of students outside the district have to pay for the service.

Today, Piedmont’s students benefit from the system’s three-year-old program that provides all classes in grades 4 through 12 with laptops. The system’s academic gains are laudable, and its reputation as an Alabama leader in classroom innovation says a great deal about the administration’s understanding of the needs of modern education.

It’s easy to salute Piedmont’s schools.

It may not be easy for the city to afford the $6,250 monthly bill, but we think Mayor Bill Baker was spot-on last week when he said, “If we can give our kids a good education, I think we need to continue spending money in that area.”
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