[cross-posted at The Gate]

Someone recently sent me the following quote from a school administrator (regarding legal concerns related to technology initiatives):

The school district is legally obligated to protect our students from the outside. It is not legally obligated to prepare them for the outside.

Ouch.

On its face, this statement gives precedence to legal concerns over whatever moral, professional, and/or ethical responsibilities schools have to prepare students for their future. This statement elevates CYA thinking over social justice concerns about technology access/usage and workforce preparation for disadvantaged students. This statement is reactive, not proactive, at a time when we desperately need forward-thinking school leaders.

Since when did schools not have a legal and societal mandate to provide an adequate education for students? As Kagan notes, every state's constitution requires the state to provide its children with an 'adequate' education. Every community expects its local schools to prepare kids to be competent, functional adults in American society. How well do you think the 'we don't have a legal obligation to prepare your children for the world' argument is going to play with parents and politicians?

We can reasonably disagree about the qualitative definition of what constitutes an 'adequate education' (e.g., we've seen this play out in both the school funding and special education arenas). But as people become increasingly aware that the Internet and digital technologies are necessary requirements for most adults' productive lives and careers, this administrator's statement that technology doesn't fall under schools' legally-required mandate to provide an adequate education for students is going to become increasingly unpalatable.