Monday, December 13, 2010

The reality of technology provision in a public school in San Francisco

We live in the age of the iPad, smartphone, and cloud computing. A world where a child's horizons can be expanded through the use of the web, Skype and access to the vast array of educational resources and software online. But that world is not available to everyone. We also live in the world of the digital divide – a divide that is here in San Francisco, home to Twitter and close to Google, Facebook and Oracle, and home to some of the most underfunded public schools in the United States.

Californian public schools struggle daily with budget constraints, fighting to retain staff and pay for basic materials like whiteboard markers and crayons. Investment in new technology comes way down the list of priorities.
  • The reality is that San Francisco teachers and parents are posting requests on Freecycle for donated used equipment.
  • The reality is that in our elementary school, children practice their keyboard skills on laminated photocopies because there aren't enough real keyboards.
  • The reality is that our elementary school has 3 LCD projectors to share between 24 classrooms.
  • The reality is that all the computers in our school are donated and used. Most are at least 6 years old. Many are unreliable. Monitors are old, large and unwieldy. 
  • The reality is that teachers struggle to share important educational material with their classes because they have one copy of a book and no document camera or projector.
Our school is Leonard R Flynn on the southern edge of the Mission District in San Francisco. Most of the school's 485 students come from low income backgrounds and many are English language learners.

The teachers and parents there are hoping to bring some of the wonderful educational tools now available into the classrooms at Flynn. Our vision is of a school with a 28 seater Mac Lab in our library and every classroom with a minimum of a laptop, LCD projector and ELMO document camera. More importantly it is of a school where technology is used to inspire, engage and help our students to explore their world.

We recognize that new technology is not a panacea but we also know that our children deserve access to the technology that is changing the world they live in and that access to this technology will give them access to a world of free educational software and resources that can stimulate and encourage the curious and inquiring mind.

This blog has been created to share our story, to generate discussion on this important subject and yes, to raise funds, to help our school.

1 comment:

  1. When our current Superintendent, Carlos Garcia came back to SFUSD from a stint in Las Vegas, he was appalled by the state of technology in our schools here in SF. Caring about it and doing something about it are two different things. We are going to DO SOMETHING about it beginning NOW. Please help us.- Lisa Bishop, Library Media Teacher