Styx lead singer Dennis DeYoung wrote the song, “Mr. Roboto,” in 1983 as part of a misbegotten rock opera on musical censorship, one of the topics that occupied us during the early 80’s. Another was a concern that Japan was overtaking the U.S. economically with its market expertise in electronics and technology.

We don’t worry much about these things any more, but the notion that robots may take our jobs through automation is still very present. A recent report by the Brookings Institution, “Automation and Artificial Intelligence: How Machines Affect People and Places,” revealed that nearly a quarter of American jobs are at high risk for being automated.

Strides in artificial intelligence — the programming that gives devices the ability to identify and recognize patterns, predict behavior, make simple decisions, and learn — have brought automation fears to many fields, including education.

That’s why we looked at the role of artificial intelligence in education for our June technology issue. Artificial intelligence, or AI, is pervasive in our society, including our classrooms and schools. Facial recognition in security practices, computer-based programs that figure out when students have mastered a concept and let teachers know when they haven’t, automated grading and test scoring — all
in common use.

Most of us have close personal relationships with our own robots — our smart phones and other devices, as well as our digital assistants Siri and Alexa. Coming down the pike soon are totally automated driverless cars, drones delivering packages and pizza.

In our cover story, “The Future Is Now” by Associate Editor Michelle Healy, we look at how several forward-thinking districts are preparing their students to navigate the world of AI, “to encourage them to see themselves as not just consumers but also creators of AI tools, and to prepare students for increased human-computer interaction and workforce changes,” she writes.

In this tech issue, we also explore the world of high school esports. “Game On,” by freelance writer Robin Flanigan, follows the evolution of video gaming as a high school sport — complete with teams, tournaments, and college scholarship offers.

Don’t forget to thank your robot assistants, too — they are always listening, after all.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

Until next issue...

Around NSBA

It's Time for a Great IDEA!

Originally signed into law in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the main federal statute governing special education for children. Today, IDEA protects the rights of over six million students with disabilities (approximately 13.5 percent of students) to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education in the least restrictive environment. NSBA urges the federal government to modernize and fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Act. We've recently launched a new initiative to highlight this critical need and help ensure our country’s students with disabilities receive the access and supports they need to succeed.

NSBA Names Chip Slaven Chief Advocacy Officer

NSBA today announced that Stuart “Chip” Slaven has joined the association as Chief Advocacy Officer. Slaven will lead the Federal Advocacy & Public Policy group, which represents state school board associations and their members before the U.S. Congress and the Administration. Slaven is a government relations veteran who brings passion and extensive experience to drive our vision for public education forward.