A recent N&R letter to the editor on Guilford County Schools’ recent announcement of the $30 million federal government grant to purchase tablets for middle schoolers reminded us that it’s not free money, as is the prevailing opinion around here. (I went to the N&R website looking for above mentioned LTE, but when I started searching, this is what I got.)

It’s true — huge grants are a big reason why we’re in the mess we’re in. But I’ve been reluctant to criticize, keeping in mind that the world in which today’s kids live is very different from the world in which those of us of a certain age were kids, no matter how much we might be in denial.

What’s interesting is GCS’ pitch:

GCS chose the Personalized Achievement, Curriculum and Environment (PACE) Schools Project because it views grades six through eight as a critical time to challenge and support students. Research shows there is a clear link between early interventions and decreased dropout rates, and increased college- and career-ready graduates.

In addition, district data indicate slowing gains in proficiency among GCS middle schools in the past four years. The district has been able to focus significant reform programs at the elementary and high school levels, and the Race to the Top-District grant will allow GCS to focus a comprehensive strategy in grades six through eight.

So this is GCS’ answer to turning around middle school performance. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.