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Uncle Sam Pays for Whiteboards

The Associated Press put out a pretty flattering account from Louisiana recently about the installation of a new fleet of whiteboards in all 65 classrooms at New Iberia High School, which sits in the southern central portion of the state.

We all know how contentious the debate over whiteboards can get. And to its credit, the Iberia Parish School Board is addressing one of the critics' primary concerns by providing three half-day instructional sessions for teachers.

But, while the story emphasizes the particular and unexpected benefit the whiteboards are having for math teachers, what makes this case interesting to me—if not completely unique—is that the project at NIHS was financed partly by federal grant money.

The AP story—which comes via The Daily Iberian—gives accounts of multiple teachers and students who just rave about the new classroom tools, but little empirical evidence of benefits, something that's admittedly hard to gather with something still relatively new.

But with many teachers still undecided (or worse) about the place of whiteboards in schools, should schools receiving technology grants put Uncle Sam's cash toward these kinds of projects first? Or are there better technological uses of the money that are more certain to bring about positive results in the classroom?

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