Now, can we solve the digital divide?

In 2012, my campaign platform included the proposal that we have a citywide wifi system and that every Dayton Public Schools student be equipped with an iPad. I wanted to end the “digital divide.”

I’d also have thrown in, that every time we run new gas lines, we include fiber optic lines as part of the install. Of course, the same folks who still can’t get online, to ask for ballots, or to get their kids assignments, voted for the “Culture of Corruption” club – Joey Williams, Jeff Mims and Nan Whaley.

I served on the Dayton Public Schools Technology Steering Committee and pushed hard for 1 to 1 computers. Was I happy with the Chromebooks over iPads, not really, but, I was still pushing for actual 1 to 1- that each student be given a device. Instead, they insisted on using 1995 thinking and bought “Carts” for the price of about 7 additional devices per cart, and kept the devices in the rooms. Those chromebooks, that were about $200 a piece four years ago, were still sitting in the carts when this Coronavirus crisis came crashing through. It took the district almost a month to decide to part with these worn out devices- to send home, 1 per household (unless you have a magic 6th kid- and you get 2).

Only a Luddite like Libby Lolli could endorse this plan. For one, with only 1 laptop, what happens when all 5 kids have a class at 10am? Never mind the fact that a lot of kids don’t have access to the internet to start with. Now, remember my platform? Now you know why it’s important.

And here’s the other killer- you don’t need 20 third grade teachers to teach online to 20 third grade classrooms- you need 1. In fact, you could teach all 12,000 kids in DPS with about a tenth of the teachers you have. Only problem? Just because you can teach in a classroom, doesn’t mean you can teach online. Different skill sets needed. And since we’ve never trusted kids enough to learn on their own and refused them access to the computers outside of rigidly controlled classroom environments, we’ve almost made sure that poor kids won’t have the same relationships with technology and learning that wealthier kids will.

Cratering attendance in some districts contrasts with reports from several selective or affluent schools where close to 100 percent of students are participating in online learning. The dramatic split promises to further deepen the typical academic achievement gaps between poor, middle-class and wealthy students.

Source: As School Moves Online, Many Students Stay Logged Out – The New York Times

Now that the rest of the country has recognized the need to have everyone interconnected online thanks to the pandemic, when are we going to do something about it? First things first, Libby Lolli, let the Laptops Go! Every single DPS kid should be given a laptop, and start working out mesh networks fed by mobile hotspots right now. Or pay folks to share their wifi with DPS kids in their neighborhoods.

This is a district that spends almost $14K per student per year. A chromebook costs $200 tops. Just remember when you vote for school board next time, these seven fools sat on their rears worried about losing laptops instead of losing touch with their students.

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