Thursday, December 12, 2013

BYOD--Is It Fair and Equitable for the Poor Kids?

...unless you're a poor kid.

In the year 2000, there was a lawsuit called the Williams Case in the State of California (The Williams Case -- An Explanation that specified students in less affluent districts were not having access to appropriate curriculum, such as textbooks. The state was required to maintain current curriculum, and by my observations in various California schools, there was diligence to do so. Not outdated or worn textbooks. Nice new ones; many students having a text at home and a class text.

Could that concept apply when there is a BYOD or a flipped/blended classroom method of teaching? Would the financial burden of in-home technology and internet access not hinder the educational progress of the student if she/he did not have that tech or access?

I'm just thinking out loud here. The friends of mine teaching in various levels of public school all have a similar demographic: low income, and high percentages of  ESL. Will the ed tech trends create a greater gap in opportunities for a large chunk of American students? Does Free and Appropriate Public Education mean a guarantee they can participate in flipped and blended learning classes? Could they be using a BYOSID-- Bring Your Own School-Issued Device?

Principals in our areas are definitely using funds to place iPads and notebook-type tech in the hands of students. But when the students go home, it is like time-traveling back fifty years. The assignments involving technology and the internet are impossible. The kids go home to a third world nation. For decades, around one-fourth of American children live in poverty (Evidence Mounting that Poverty Causes Lasting Physical and Mental Health Problems for Children to the detriment of our society. Will the conditions at also school recede decades behind other districts resulting in these student's further disadvantages?

Our communities definitely can solve this dilemma through far-sighted planning and recognition that all kids are our most valuable resource. How about laying out FIOs-type cables, free WiFi in the wider community, tracking school-issued tech so there isn't another LAUSD type situation where thousands of iPads disappear overnight. (My experience with school librarians--whom we lovingly called The Library Police--is they are so organized that if a first grader loses a book, they can't graduate 11 years later til they pay for it.)

We may as well get going on it. Life, liberty and the pursuit of ed tech!

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