- Esrati - https://esrati.com -

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 [1].”

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 [2]

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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Gary Leitzell

Modern technology thwarted by 160 years of tradition …

Gary Rich

How many papers and other assignments have you graded? How many students emailed you for help? How many parents have you had to engage with? How many students have you had to differentiate curriculum for? How many IEPs/504s have you had to work around? How would you sneak this past the lowest member of the teachers union?

Not sure how easy you think one teacher has it for 6+ periods worth of students, let alone however many additional your half-cocked proposal would call for.

What I will agree with is DPS all the sudden standing up a digital hardware presence where one really didn’t exist before. They should have come at this with a plan of enrichment over slamming them with new and untested ways of doing things, especially when there’s no state testing. For the state that DPS is in, I would much rather see weekly teacher/student contact of a “how are you and your family doing” nature.

Gary Rich

I looked at the website and it doesn’t address what you called for in this column:

“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.”

In fact, it’s likely one teacher per 6 classrooms. I’m not sure what you think is going on, but maybe you can admit that you are out of your wheelhouse. I mean, I wasn’t on a technology steering committee 10 years ago, but I am in the classroom now. Just because things are online doesn’t mean it’s magically easier. Sure, some things are simplified, but new challenges are introduced. I could bore you with the details if you were interested in a good faith discussion.

Unless your idea is hyperbole (which I hope it is, because I don’t think you’re dumb), my questions still stand.

Gary Rich

Of course I know what an LMS is. An LMS doesn’t respond to students/parents. An LMS doesn’t read papers and automatically grade and give feedback. An LMS doesn’t walk kids through math formulas and answer individual questions. An LMS can perform several useful functions such as recording grades, delivering curriculum, documentation, scheduling, organization, etc, but it doesn’t replace the contact time that a student has with a teacher. Someone has to grade, communicate, make lessons, document, name IEPs/504s, and just ask “how are you doing today.”

I think you’re getting an LMS confused with a CBT. And if you’ve ever been in corporate America, you know exactly how worthless a CBT is. It’s an exercise in box checking CYA.

Let’s shit on the board and superintendent, sure. They deserve it. But you’re treading down a road you don’t want to go down by putting teachers on blast for not being fluent in e-learning with the 72hrs notice they were provided. Given the speed of decisions regarding school, they were given two options: do nothing and call it a wrap or stand up e-learning the best there could and salvage the situation by keeping kids engaged.

The state already waived testing. There is no test to teach to. Teachers are more worried about handing out food to their students and being the continuity factor they need.

I agree with you in principle on a lot of things, but you’re in over your head on this one.

You can’t scale this shit up.

Gary Rich

That’s quite an endeavor to stand up on 72hrs notice, all for 2 months of e-learning and district directed lax grading and no state tests.

How would it be funded?

Would current teachers get a say in what’s taught? If no, would this enterprise want to deal with the power of the teachers union? You bet your ass I wouldn’t want some unknown quantity teaching my kids.

What kind of turnover/continuity would be offered with current teachers?

How would kids respond to a brand new teacher and complete upheaval in general?

Just call it a wash. It is less than 1 semester. Kids will be ok. It’s easy to say what should have been done after all the big decisions have been made and with there being 4 weeks remaining. There are bigger things to deal with right now.

Gary Leitzell

Gary Rich, in 2010 I proposed hybrid learning to DPS. I was ostracized for putting my daughter in Ohio. Virtual Academy by the local teachers union. I made it very clear that I would enroll my daughter in DPS if they would allow me to educate online her language arts and math while they taught all the other stuff. Science, music, art, history etc. I explained that their greatest competition was e schools. Not brick and mortar charters. They did a study. Came back and said “We could do this, but not at this time.” So at age 11 we enrolled my daughter in DECA. Where she is excelling. Had DPS done something 10 years ago when I simply suggested it, they would have been prepared for what is happening now. This pandemic is going to change education world wide. Teachers are no longer going to have to work 8 hours in a classroom. They can produce a 30 minute video once and reuse it for several years. They can let those students who excel take off and work with those that need help so classroom sizes will get smaller. Art and music can come back to those students who want to watch their teachers online discuss concepts and produce elective courses. Dayton lacks visionaries in power. Someone told me once, in 2014 that in 20 years people will realize that I was 20 years ahead of my time. Esrati is a visionary. He is at least 5 years ahead of me.

Gary Rich

Dang, y’all are sounding a lot like Betsy DeVos re: charter school worship. I’m sincerely relieved Mr. Leitzell is no longer mayor, and Mr. Esrati never got to be anywhere near where he could influence these decisions. It’s abundantly clear that you’re not educators, and clearly an American value that non-educators attempt to run the show.

You lost me at recycling videos for years. Why stop there though? What about the “high quality” education that kids get from credit recovery programs? If it’s good enough to get credit for a couple weeks over the summer, why not just have that instead of any kind of school. Or grab things other people made from YouTube. And regarding DECA, let’s not get into how they game their numbers to look more successful than they are. Charter schools are great at that because they’re managed by consultants and “Bobs.”

Meanwhile, neither of you answered any of my questions. They weren’t rhetorical.

Gary Rich

Andragogy =/= pedagogy. I may be a pompous putz, but com on, if you have Google “andragogy” super fast, this is already over.

Yes, kids aren’t meant to sit in chairs and read books and be lectured to all day. Trust me, I’m there, I know. That’s not how teachers are taught to do things anymore. I’m not sure when you and Mr. Leitzell got your teaching licenses, but I can assure you that it’s changed. There at least a dozen different proven teaching strategies. The only thing that has changed is the funding level for schools. We have to choose between technology integration and para professionals since almost every kid has a learning difficulty. And we have to find money for social workers because a staggering, growing percentage of kids are abused, homeless/couchsurfing, or hopelessly impoverished. If you had to make the choice, where would you rank technology integration if the bottom of Maslow’s isn’t being met?

Add that to the list of sincere questions I’ve already asked. Don’t just spit your website back at me. I already agree with most of your points.

Bubba Jones

>>>Start with that you pompous putz.<<<

That's not exactly the response that I'd expect from a "visionary". C'mon, David – you're better than that. Apologize for the name calling.

Gary Rich

I do work a standard work year, and I’d love for you to elaborate on your “start working a standard year” comment, but I won’t hold my breath. After school lets out, I’m in professional development and other commitments to prepare for the next school year. I’m not sure what you think teachers do all summer, but I can assure you that most work other jobs since the pay isn’t as lucrative as most trumpy folks like yourself think. We get a reprieve from the students, but not from anything else. Many continue to work for the school, particularly in technology departments preparing for the next year.

I would love to see free universal daycare and healthcare, in addition to many other things on the liberal platform. That would make the socioeconomic indicators of Dayton much better.

And I take the pompous putz as a compliment. Pompous would imply that I have some knowledge that I can flaunt. Better that than spouting ignorance like yourself.

I can clearly see you don’t want to have an intellectually honest discussion on this, as evidenced by your evasion of my questions and subsequent name-calling. Lucky for you that I have time on my hands and I’m petty enough to continue to engage :)

David Jones

so interesting to see this is one of the only posts that gets much response, and everyone here seems to agree with Gary. Lots of votes down for Esrati though. Similar to his last election…


I think the gold is somewhere in the middle of what you guys are all arguing about. Yes, without question DPS has fumbled their use (and lack of) technology. They’re a mess and their students are falling into a widening gap of disparity exacerbated by the current situation. Yes, I agree that the current admin seems wildly out of touch with this region and their failures will be felt for years to come. Your criticisms have been well thought out and researched. But… The scope of teaching kids in this current situation is not something that can simply be fixed by previous proper planning and good tech. I say this not as a teacher or political pundit, but as a parent. A really tired parent. Hear me out and realize that this is coming from a fantastic school district (Bellbrook), speedy WiFi, all the laptops and ipads you could hope for and with the kiddos here only about half the time. Also keep in mind this is a household with 7 kids – preschool through 11th grade, 3 on the autism spectrum with IEPs, 1 with a 504, and 2 highly gifted in AP classes. PLUS, I have the luxury of working from home so I’m in it. All day, every day, homework up to my eyeballs. There’s not a chance in hell the teachers can do this at scale. Not effectively. Some classes, sure. Some assignments, sure. Some students can take the assignments and run with them, sure. But if we’re averaging it all out, the level of communication we’ve got with all the kids teachers via all the different platforms we’ve got to check every day (topic for another post) they can not simply scale it. The elementary kiddos would melt down if they had to suddenly get all of this work from a stranger. The high schoolers are self sufficient enough to be able to do the assignments but they wouldn’t have any shred of the familiarity it takes for socially awkward teens to reach out to their teachers for additional help / questions, and that’s a… Read more »

Gary Rich

Shoot, I missed this

//Again @Gary- a standard work year- for a school year. In other words – schools are open 9-5 M-F 1920 hours- total- for students and teachers. Yet- “education” is only a max of 3-4 hours- while learning- about anything and everything is a full day.//

Do you think teachers are only “on” from first to last bell? I can assure you that there are ongoing developmental requirements, curriculum development/updating, keeping current with trends in education, IEP/504 meetings, etc. It’s a very consuming job, even for those who just show up and do bare minimum to collect a paycheck.

//Take vacation- anytime you want- same for students.
Run grades like Montessori – based on skills not age.
I did mention pay teachers more. You missed that.//

Sure, teachers can take a vacation anytime. However, students are paced together. When a student misses even 3 days it’s a pain to get them back on track, and requires going above and beyond your 9-5 fallacy.

//Calling me a Trumpy- takes balls. Them’s fighting words.//

Don’t like it then try not to sound like Betsy Devo’s ;)

Gary Rich

Nicole, you failed to see where David taught in college before I was born (and probably you too). You know, back before there was such a thing as differentiation, and all teachers had were musty old textbooks, chalkboards, and library card catalogs. Since that’s all he knows, it must be the way it is today too and we’re all wrong.

“Everyone’s stupid but me”
-Homer Simpson