Worcester County Education Foundation Chair Todd Ferrante shared this week a You Tube video called “Did You Know? Shift Happens.” It provides a wealth of information, most of which is concerning how critical technology and associated enhancements will be in the lives of today’s young people and in particular their future.
For example, one fact included in the video was that, “Researchers predict that 65% of today’s grade schoolers will hold jobs that don’t exist yet.” According to the video, the number of Internet devices in 1984 was 1,000, compared to one million in 1992, one billion in 2008 and 10 billion in 2014. Every five minutes 2,855 new websites are created, 360 hours of new video are uploaded to YouTube, 1.3 million tweets are posted to Twitter and 694,000 songs are downloaded illegally.
The video continues with related stats that confirm modernizing schools with at least acceptable technology means is the key to producing young adults capable of excelling in the “real world.”
This new foundation, a hybrid organization of leading residents and government officials, aims to tackle these issues with an infusion of private sector funds to expedite the digital conversion slowly taking place at Worcester County schools.
While we laud the intentions and efforts of the foundation members, it’s troubling that this work and goal is necessary in the first place. It’s critical because Worcester County is severely underfunded by the state. The burden rests almost entirely on the county government, which cannot without major tax increases meet the full requests of the school system.
The foundation knows all about this reality and understands there’s no use in trying to get the formula altered that the state uses to determine the wealth of a county and subsequently is relied on to configure the per-pupil education allocation from Maryland. The end result of the formula is that Worcester is found to be annually among the richest jurisdictions in the state because of elevated land values based on the water that surrounds the area.
Instead of accepting the reality of this funding inequity, the foundation was formed and its creation should benefit the county in major ways. It’s not unprecedented in the education world, but it is uncommon in largely rural areas. Congratulations to Taylor Bank for the initial $100,000 investment. Surely there will be more sizable donations to come because that’s what this community does time and time again — it rallies for a worthwhile cause and perhaps there is nothing to be celebrated more than attempts to improve and modernize the education system where our most worthwhile and promising are groomed.