Bay Area Innovation Could Revolutionize Government

As a Google Certified Teacher, Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer, and Microsoft Innovative Educator, I realize how much the power of programming can change how our government and schools function. -Chris Chiang

Those who are not comfortable with technology are not able to see its full potential. Unfortunately that describes much of our government and schools. This means our state government aims too low in its objectives and pays too much for what it gets when it comes to technology.

You would be surprised to know that we do not collect teacher data and student data together. This means we do not know which teacher training programs are working or what student intervention programs (that you pay for) are working.

The state responded to this need in 2002 and spent $24 million to develop a system called California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS). A decade later, it is not yet complete. In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg created a more complicated system, Facebook, in his dorm room, than what CALPADS aims to be. CALPADS is a simple database that centrally collects teacher IDs, school IDs, program IDs (like an after school reading program), and student performance data. Education researchers would then have the responsibility to crunch the data, though any Bay Area computer engineer would say those analytical tasks can be built into the system too, another sign of how our government underestimates technology.

In 2011, Code for America, a volunteer group of coders, did more in their spare time than what the state has done in a decade with CALPADS. Imagine how our schools and government could be different if we put Bay Area talent to work on California’s toughest problems. We need legislators with greater passion and vision for technology.

Europe and East Asia Should Not Have More Broadband Than the Bay Area/Silicon Valley
Internet is the air the fuels 21st century learning and innovation, yet the Bay Area lags behind other regions of the world in broadband speed and access. The situation is much worse in many of our Bay Area schools and homes of low income families. Chris will work with companies like Comcast to ensure that every Bay Area family has access to affordable broadband. In our schools, Internet access gives students the keys to their own learning. Chris will work to ensure that no school denies their students the opportunity to learn beyond their classroom walls.

Between 2001 to 2009 California’s number of broadband users dropped from fourth to 14th in America.

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