Is it possible to create access for all students?
Creating equitable experiences with technology can be difficult. Many times, students will come to school and have a computer to use. However, once they go home, they no longer have the privilege of going online to complete an assignment or stay up to date on social media platforms. We need to work to create a bridge between spaces where students have access to digital tools. One of the programs that comes to mind is the 1:1 technology program that helps give internet access to students in low income homes.
What is a 1:1 program?
A 1:1 technology program for students gives students access to an iPad, Chrome Book, or other personal computer that is theirs for the entirety of the academic year. They are free to bring it home to complete assignments as well as use it in school. Most of these devices have locks on them that only allow students to download academic applications. I think that this program is very effective. For example, the Mineola Union Free School District implements this program. Students and faculty each get an iPad to use. However, Mineola is not necessarily a low income district. This made me begin to think:
How many 1:1 programs are actually implemented in low income districts?
Racial equity is hard to come by in Long Island School Districts. There are so many districts, and there is such a divide between the different areas on the island. In a low income district, the spending is about $18,000 per student. Seems like a decent amount of money, right? Well, in high income districts, they spend $26,000 on each student. That’s $8,000 more per student. Thus, schools like Massapequa High School (a more affluent district) and Mineola High School can have these 1:1 technology programs.
So, we are saying that the 1:1 programs are set up to create access for all, but aren’t they just continuing to widen the gap that has already been made? The US Department of Education needs to come together to reevaluate this disparity in their districts. If students are going to be expected to develop critical thinking skills and acquire jobs in different fields that require technology use, they deserve a fighting chance.
However, as of now, the education system is failing its students. Change needs to be implemented in order to create equitable schooling opportunities for students. We must close the digital learning gap.