By Steven M. Baule, CIO Advisor
Sometimes, it seems important to go back and reconsider some of your long-held beliefs. I have been forced to do that over the past week with all of the wonderful weather that we have had in the Midwest. I was schooled in the military that you couldn't let the weather force your hand and that effective soldiers could always find a way through, regardless of the elements that were facing them. So I always have difficulty making the decision to cancel school. I generally only do so when I am the last district that would be open and everyone around me has already canceled. I always feel like we somehow failed when we cancel. The other side of that is for children in poverty, school is often the only place they can count on warm meals and a warm place to be all day. So, sometimes leaving children at home means they will be colder and more hungry than if they are at school. Calling off school is always a balancing act and it is never an easy decision.
However, the takeaway from my struggles with canceling school is that we all hold a variety of beliefs that we need to review from time to time and determine if they are still accurate and useful. Few of the things we believe really deserve the dogmatic devotion that we show them. Some do, but not many. For instance, I used to know a technology director who wouldn't support a language lab in his district because there wasn't a Mac-based system and he was dogmatically opposed to anything non-Mac. What impact that had on the language students in his district isn't known but it may have impacted some students negatively. Similarly, many of us swear by one brand or vendor for switches, software, etc. Others feel every classroom needs an interactive whiteboard or graphing calculators are the most important technology tool we can have. The new year seems like a good time to revisit those beliefs and make sure we are on the most solid of ground as we move forward in 2014. Remember, sacred cows make pretty good burgers.
Steven M. Baule is superintendent of North Boone CUSD 200 in Poplar Grove, IL. He has written several books on aspects of library and technology management and planning. Follow North Boone on Twitter @NBCUSD200.