OUR OPINION: Technology arrives via private-public partnership

By NEMS Daily Journal

The multiplying power of effective partnerships repeated itself again Tuesday when the private sector and public agencies joined resources to provide 24 classrooms with state-of-the-art instruction technology in the three PUL Alliance counties: Pontotoc, Union and Lee.
The PUL Alliance formed to develop and promote its industrial megasite at Blue Springs in Union County, the land where Toyota operates its 2,000-employee Corolla assembly plant. Toyota made the partnership education-specific with a 10-year, $50 million endowment to enhance education in alliance counties, a gift revealed at the location announcement in February 2007.
The commitment by the technology firm eInstruction and the Appalachian Regional Commission is backed by further assistance from the Three Rivers Planning and Development District, plus the University of Mississippi, which will use its resources to measure outcomes and set the stage for further development.
“Our goal is for every classroom in Three Rivers’ eight counties to one day have this technology,” commented Randy Kelley, executive director of TRPDD. “Right now, a lot of the classes have elements of the technology, but not entire systems like these that were donated today.”
The technology initiative will be implemented along with PEP (Performance Enrichment Program), a program where high school students tutor younger students to close achievement gaps among poor and disadvantaged students.
“We were pleased to help with this grant, because Gov. Bryant is extremely dedicated to education,” said Mike Armour, executive director of the Appalachian Regional Commission Mississippi.
In remarks, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., stressed the need for private participation to help supply technology for every classroom in the district’s counties after the effectiveness of the instruction and installations is confirmed by the university’s research of the three-county pilot project.
Technology at a similarly high level has repeatedly been proven in other classrooms nationwide, so there’s every reasonable expectation that effective results can be produced in the 24-classroom pilot project.
The level of technology sophistication in classrooms, while foreign to an older generation, is the technology of choice for arguably a strong majority of students, for whom interactive communication is a constant.
Thanks to the private sector and to the government partners who made the pilot project possible. There’s no turning back from it.