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Earlier this month, the U.S. Secretary of Education put the full weight of Washington on the trail of states, schools, and districts that are not providing adequate educational resources to every student.
It is nothing short of a fairly large tick in the milestones we make toward a more evolved educational society. In a “Dear Colleague” letter from Assistant Secretary for the Office of Civil Rights, Catherine E. Lhamon, the call for equity was heard loud and crystal clear through multiple examples in more than 35+ pages of guidance, with a fact sheet, as well as press release.
This letter called for a new standard. It highlights new examples for what will be acceptable in education going forward. On the subject of student Wi-Fi access at home for example. The letter states:
“For those districts or schools where access to the internet or to other technology outside of school hours is a necessary or presumed aspect of what is expected from students, OCR also examines the extent to which students have access to necessary technology outside of school and how school districts support students who do not have internet access at home, such as through providing wireless access via a Wi-Fi hotspot at school that is available outside of school hours.*”
The footnote reads:
*Disparities in such support, or inattention to the disparities in internet access at home, may be cause for concern if students need internet access outside of school hours to be successful in the classroom.”
In other words: We created this society. We did this. We advanced our world and our civilization through technology to the point that now we cannot go back. We must teach students with the technology and tools they will use in the world. And using those tools requires access to the Internet. It is as fundamental to their education as access to a public library. Access to the Internet is as essential to education as a clean and healthy learning environment.
As parents, edtech leaders, teachers and administrators; we will be responsible for preparing our students for the world we created. The battle cry for equity in education has sounded.