Original post from The Capitola Times
By: Maria Orozco, President PVUSD Board of Trustees, and Jeff Ursino, PVUSD Trustee
On November 16 the Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees considered several programs expanding access to Internet services for low income students across the district.
With the introduction of Chromebooks and possible rollout of digital textbooks, there is a sense of urgency at the District level to ensure that our students have access to the Internet while at home. Results from a PVUSD BrightBytes survey in October of last year showed that 3000 of our students do not have home Internet access. This puts students whose families cannot afford Internet access at a disadvantage compared to those that have access. Students without Internet connectivity at home cannot access instructional content and online learning resources, which may affect their educational performance.
As stated by Maria Orozco, Board President, “Students rely heavily on internet access for online learning, homework projects, research and communication with teachers. Internet access is an integral part of 21st century learning and no student should be left behind.”
Students with Internet access at home are able to gather information from a wide array of public sources almost instantly. With Internet access in their homes, students are able to peruse magazines, books, newspaper articles and Internet sites. Such connectivity readily invites students to seek a deeper understanding of the subject as well as a more complete knowledge of what is being discussed.
Another advantage is the excitement that the Internet brings to our students. A survey by the National Math and Science Initiative found that hands-on Internet activities excites students and allows them to be more fully engaged in the educational process. As many parents can tell you, our children are already very involved with the Internet through social media and video games. Giving our students home access to the Internet will help our students towards a more productive educational experience.
A final benefit that we feel is of the utmost importance, is that internet home access for our students will help to close the communication gap between parents, students and teachers. With Internet and email access, parents are able to communicate more frequently and directly with their child’s teacher thereby helping to advance the student’s education by building a more effective and meaningful parent/teacher partnership. Also, students are able to email their homework and class assignments to their teachers thus allowing a faster response from them and an end to any “the dog ate my homework” excuses.
In an effort to increase internet home connectivity and to give our students access to these benefits, the PVUSD Technology Services will present to the Board options to help provide PVUSD’s low income families and their students with free or discounted home internet service. Other options being considered include: installing Wi-Fi on District buses providing internet access to students while on the bus; “WiFi hotspots” students could check out from the school library to provide internet service at home; and Chromebook 4G LTE cards that will provide internet access for students using the Chromebook.
All of these Internet service options are to help every student in our schools to have the best educational experience possible. The 21st century workplace is often based on knowing how to use technology. By providing all our students with Internet access, we are giving them the tools to be successful, and that is a goal we all can get behind.