Lessons for educators from ‘80s TV


Recently, I watched an old TV show that had taken place in the 1980s. It was fascinating to watch, as it was a detective story and during that time there were no cell phones and the one computer they had was – by today’s standards – prehistoric.

What I thought was very interesting was the lack of information that the detectives had while pursuing the case. Their admin was running around trying to find them with the new information she had discovered while they were trying to contact her (via a pay phone). As they kept missing each other, it took them much longer and many wrong turns before they figured out the crime. I was thinking, wow, if they had access to the fast computers, the internet, cell phones the overall information that we have now at our fingertips, that show would have been over in two minutes.

Then I started thinking about the education industry - K-12 especially. School administrators must feel like those poor detectives on that 80’s rerun! Sure, they have computers and cell phones, but the majority of them have the same issue: the lack of information to make decisions. How frustrating that must be. I felt bad for those detectives, thinking, if they only had what I have now they would be so better off. Similarly, the education administrators in K-12 want to help students succeed, learn and be successful but they don’t have the assets at their disposal to make that happen. With data in multiple disparate systems, not knowing which programs are effectively helping students succeed, how to know which students are getting the topic or not, they have many issues that current technology can remedy, such as hosted or on-site administrative solutions or online curriculum resources.

I have hope. I am hoping with the current administration, new advances will be made to help all schools achieve their potential, not just the ones with the large IT budgets and infrastructure. I am hoping that they all realize the global need to help students succeed with the present technology that we have come to take for granted in our everyday lives. We have come to demand information to make decisions in our lives, why not in our schools?


About Author

Georgia Mariani

Principal Product Marketing Manager

Georgia Mariani has spent nearly a quarter-century exploring and sharing how analytics can improve outcomes. As a Principal Industry Marketing Manager at analytics leader SAS, supporting the education industry, she passionately showcases customers using analytics to tackle important education issues and help students succeed. Georgia received her M.S. in Mathematics with a concentration in Statistics from the University of New Orleans.


  1. Ms. Mariani,
    I agree with you, conditionally. Today, and for the next decade or so, public education as we know it would benefit from SAS software, or ANY software that raised the quality and consistency of the eventual product of the system: young adults. But I would hope that in that same decade we would set in place a whole new system. One where public education meant lifelong learning, where education started with conception for both the child and the parents. Where education meant everyone was a student as well as a teacher, until a few days after they died (when all who knew the deceased would meet to review what they had learned from that person's life). Such a system would be highly self-managed amid communities both small and local as well as vast and distributed around the world.
    Then the market for your software--by then evolved so it helps everyone to manage their own goals, find resources, schedule classes, test themselves, and manage their commitment to who consider them their teacher--is used by everyone on the planet.
    I invite you and your colleagues at SAS to ponder out loud such an evolution of public education at http://www.allnewpubliceducation.com. I look forward to considering your thoughts.
    Stephen Dill
    All New Public Education

  2. Georgia Mariani on

    Mr. Dill,
    Thanks for your reply. I agree that life-long learning is essential and that the overall education system needs to be overhauled. However, such drastic endeavors don’t happen overnight. Especially in a system that doesn’t even embrace currently available technology. I think many people see the need and that with time things will change for the better.
    In terms of life-long learning, I am sure you are aware of the many P-20 initiatives (Google P-20 initiatives) that the states are pursuing. SAS understands that in order to do this type of analysis you need to be able to access and analyze data from multiple disparate databases over different systems, etc. As we have been doing that for over 30 years, we have a keen interest in helping states with achieving P-20.
    However, please keep in mind that in order to do any type of analysis, you need data. At this time, there is only data on people once they enter the school system. There is some interest to then follow students after they leave the school system however, that has been and continues to be a challenge.
    In addition, as you are already aware, based on your recent blog post, Dr. Goodnight is very passionate about Education, and this is a key area of focus for him personally as well as professionally. So, as education evolves, we will be excited to address and assist educational professionals on their quest to positively impact student learning and success.
    Georgia Mariani

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