The school issued Chromebook and education inequity
Updated: Aug 28, 2020
We are nearly 2 weeks in to remote learning and every day that goes by, I can't help but notice about how remote learning creates an enormous disparity in education for many students.
Yesterday was a perfect example of how remote learning long term will not work and will not achieve 1 year educational growth and causes a education disparity.
Since the start of remote learning Cole has had issues with his school issued laptop. The Chromebook would either crash when his teacher shared their screen (causing a reboot), or his teachers could not hear him because the Chromebook microphone would not work. I checked our internet connection, router, and multiple high end headset/microphones to ensure it wasn't user error. I finally decided to call the district tech support line and the technician confirmed what I thought - the Chromebook can't keep up with Zoom, which causes the problems we have been experiencing. Luckily for us, our family has the means to solve the problem immediately (I went and bought a new laptop for Cole to use for school). For many other families they do not have this luxury and are stuck with the Chromebook issued. I was able to confirm that a majority of our elementary school has the same model as Cole was issued. An overwhelming amount of students are more than likely experiencing the same issues we had which kills the experience for a younger student. How does a household with 2 working parents troubleshoot continuously? Remote learning is going to leave a lot of students behind while other families who have the means and experience with technology will continue to march forward. I struggle to think about how many students right now are disengaged because they don't have live support at home and they have a faulty Chromebook. This isn't finger pointing at parents or teachers, the situation is tough on all.
What's the solution? We need to get our students back in school sooner than later. The district and the labor union leadership need to step up and work together to achieve this. Compromise and resolution from both side need to be adopted before we quickly lose a year of educational growth ( I am not saying compromise on safety protocols). Put politics aside and get a concrete in person plan drafted and approved. Student first needs to be the focus.
We all saw the new remote schedule starting Monday 8/31/20, if you are having problems keeping your younger student engaged for 1.5 hours, no telling what Tuesday's full schedule will bring.