Minnesota is, according to Education Week (as reported in the Star Tribune), second to last in "technology in schools:"
In today's first-ever grading of educational technology for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Minnesota is just barely ahead of Nevada in its emphasis on technology and use of data in education. Minnesota lags behind much of the country when it comes to student access to computers and high-speed Internet, infusing technology into graduation standards and requiring that teachers and administrators be trained in how best to use technology in the classroom.
To give the Strib credit, though, they point out why we should be careful not to take this too seriously:
But the report says nothing about a link between technology and student achievement. In fact, the report's authors acknowledge that many of the lowest-scoring states on this list have some of the highest student test scores.
And some of the top-scoring technology states -- such as West Virginia and Arkansas -- have a tradition of struggling schools.
I am extremely suspicious of proposals, like one mentioned in the article, to "better prepare students for jobs in engineering and other technology-aided careers" by spending more money and getting students to sit for more hours in front of computer screens. If you want to prepare students for jobs in engineering, then make sure they graduate with a solid background in mathematics and the natural sciences. And what do you mean by technology-aided careers? What career isn't aided by technology?
And while we're at it, let's have none of this conflation of "science and technology." They are not the same. By "technology" is usually meant, imprecisely, "computer use," which is a far cry from understanding anything about Newtonian physics or inorganic chemistry or cellular biology or how to apply calculus techniques (or even algebra) to physical problems. Now, computer programming courses in high school --- provided they don't make a boneheaded choice in computer language --- is another thing, and can be part of a balanced approach to mathematics. But for the most part, especially given the nearly-criminal gaps in student achievement, time and money spent on "tech" is time and money that's clearly not helping.
That's not to say that there's no use for intensive skills training in computer applications in high school. The best use I can imagine would be for vocational/technical programs that hope to train students to enter a decent-paying job right out of high school, or to prepare them for a technical college. Imagine, for example, a clever partnership with local businesses --- businesses that might hire the young people as summer interns, assist the school district in purchasing licenses for specific software applications (moving beyond Word, Excel, and Powerpoint and into, say, the specialized software that tracks inventories at the regional hospital; or the suite that manages human resources and payroll at the local university; or the CAD program that the techs use at the manufacturing plant just outside town...), and ultimately interview graduating seniors for entry-level positions.
Still, much of the hand-wringing that will no doubt be heard in Minnesota school districts over this "D" in "technology" is probably ill-founded.