We can’t expect students to graduate from a college-prep high school without a computer and Internet at home. It’s just not fair. One student goes home and hops on her laptop with wireless connection, and the other has to hop on two buses to compete for a workstation at the public library.
That’s why I’m giving out computers this year that students can keep.
They’re donations from friends or from strangers on Craigslist. I usually ask around every month or so. There are so many perfectly good, five-year-old computers out there that my students can use. (Note: The donor chooses whether the computer stays in the classroom or goes home with a student.)
The only trick is determining which student should get the computer. Right now, the criteria are (1) you don’t have a computer, (2) you do have Internet.
My colleagues may criticize me for not making this a larger, all-school program. Others argue that all donated computers should remain at the school (even though classroom space is tight). Indeed, perhaps the way I’m doing this is inequitable or wrongheaded. But at least I’m getting computers into students’ hands.
Besides, it’s not like this is a big part of my job. It’s just clear that some students are struggling in school because of the digital divide. Therefore, if I can find an easy way to erase that obstacle, I should go ahead and do it.