BrittFOR educators, by Educators

It does appear that education will get plenty of billions in the recently approved stimulus package for education put into place by the Obama administration.  And, there are those who oppose aspects of the stimulus package by saying that some features of the bill will not create jobs. 

What do you think?  Will it create jobs?  More importantly, will the education portion of the bill create jobs?

I can’t control the outcome of other features of the bill, but I can say that we together as those working in education CAN positively effect the results.

Getting over the “what’s in it for me?”
If you work in technology you can look at the reports to see your estimated allocations.  But just like an inheritance, those in charge of the spending now have a huge responsibility. 

Is it to make sure the money goes where it should?  Is it to benefit the teachers and students with the latest technologies and hardware?  Is it to make sure that purchased equipment and software is fully utilized?  Is it to make sure teachers and students are well trained as an investment of its use?  Is it to actually create jobs both short and long-term to stimulate our economic growth?  It should be all the above.

The good stewards
Just because we receive money does not automatically mean that those objectives stated above will be achieved.  In my travels and working with large districts in education, many times coordinators have expressed concern over lack of funds and the ability to have the latest and greatest equipment and accessories to properly train students. 

After some brief observation or sometimes even candid expression from an administrator who has unfortunately inherited multi-million dollar lawsuits brought on by incompliance, misuse of funds, and, the purchases of hardware and software that no one knows how to use, do find themselves in a brand new dilemma.

The good steward, as many I have encountered especially those district and regional technology coordinators have been wise to see the need to issue policies on training, compliance and other areas that help to unite their own site-based force as responsible recipients of such a prize.

Possibly the opposite of a good steward would be the irresponsible lottery winner who blows their money, or a spoiled teenager who wastes their money – and comes back only to need more.

As educators, I’m sure we’ll not only set the standard, but will raise the bar by turning our loan into short-term jobs, and perpetual careers with a highly trained work force that exceeds other countries.

Speaking of China
I returned from my second business trip to China in 2006 (my first was in 2003), and upon my return my statement was “China will own U.S. in about 10 years”.  It happened a bit sooner, didn’t it?  Well, maybe they don’t actually own us, but we do owe them a lot of money. 

It’s not enough now to keep up with the U.S. standards for education.  Nor is it enough to compete with our affluent and prestigious local district neighbors.  Now, we must prepare our students for global and friendly competition.

In a more recent trip the past January to the BETT Conference in London (, I discover that not much has changed, in that the U.K. is still running a couple of years ahead of the U.S. in technology within education.

By embracing social networks an our ability to do class and student projects with the U.K., India, China and other countries, we can find ourselves and our students fused into the network and up-to-speed quite quickly.

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
-John F. Kennedy

Doing my part
How will I personally create jobs as the good steward?  Well, since I work for a technology company with a sole focus on education, we plan to develop new products, expand internationally, enhance customer service and, share our information regarding internet marketing with high school students through our SBC (Student Business Course) Program, which is ½ to full day workshops which are not only inspirational, but will give students the ability to execute their business ideas. 

Hiring the hackers
With product development the need for programmers and other technicians increases.  At Soundzabound, many of our technicians are young geniuses, some hired right out of high school.  So, our SBC program also serves as a way of recruitment. 

Global expansion
Overseas expansion does not necessarily mean you take away jobs here in the U.S.  When you properly embrace a global economy, you can actually provide work for American teachers, trainers, tech specialists and sales people.

Enhanced Customer Service
In this day and age, if you are not able to assist you customer (in our case, Technology Coordinators) by saving them time, money, training their staff, utilizing technology and putting students to work, then you have nothing to provide.

By bringing such values to the customer, you are able to hire more sophisticated customer service staff to help execute these objectives.

And now for you part
The cost of technology is lower than ever while inexpensive software and free on-line resources abound.

When I started in education in 1996, it took a lot of money in those days to have a video studio, editing software and not to mention, server space to house video and other on-line and digital resources.

Today, hardware and new technologies are less expensive and in the true form of the trends, will probably continue to get less expensive, bigger in memory and smaller in size.

True, less fortunate school systems are in desperate need of computers, workstations and other hardware but once in place, furnishing these technological accommodations is for the most part an inexpensive cost.

So, where should the money go?

Training.  The training of the teachers and students on the resources will be a vital part of the process.

Many times when grant money or other financial resources for education come along, the resources exist but teachers and students do not have the training on proper use.  By making a further investment into training, you can’t go wrong.

Those billion dollar babies
“Because most importantly, this is a story about people.  Google was not investing $1.6 Billion in technology of YouTube – but in all the users of YouTube.”

Do you see those 17 year-old eyes looking at you in the class?  Look deeper, and see the shine.  It’s the glimmer of hope reflecting an idea for the future.

We need to just assume that the students know far more technologically than we do.  We’ve all heard the terms of digital natives and digital immigrants, but how do we act as the spring to catapult the business ideas that sit stale in the minds of our students?

Honestly, the current situation stands that many will not be able to go to college nor get a job when high school is completed.

So, in order to jump-start the current economy and fuel it for the long haul, we need to help these students uncover their business ideas, start their own company based on their interests, and perhaps even employ others.

What I’m saying sounds very idealistic, but in reality – it’s simple, and it works.  Just look at our billion dollar babies such as Google, MySpace, FaceBook, YouTube and others, to see that big dreams are achievable.

Many students have great business ideas – and there lies the future of your economy.  However, if they do not know how to start a business, incorporate, conduct internet marketing, ensure compliance and security along with all the other aspects of running a profitable business, then the ideas will go nowhere.

However, with our investments into technology and proper training, we can not only spark these ideas to come out of our students, but will also help provide them with the training they need to execute those ideas.  Herein begins our fruitful economic recovery and ongoing legacy.

And if for some reason the stimulus package does not go through for education, we will continue doing what we have been doing all along to help seniors today make jobs tomorrow, and we invite you to partner with us in these efforts.

Ask not what your country can do for you…

Barry S. Britt is the co-founder of Soundzabound Royalty Free Music in Atlanta, GA.