Today's Education Week article, Districts Equipping School Buses With WiFi describes a program in Vail, Arizona where busses will be equipped with WiFi so students can access the internet on their bus ride to and from school. A worthy venture, no doubt. However, this article, and the money this district has for such programs enrages me as my own district struggles to keep the doors open and the lights on.
My comments posted at the article:
The inequity in public education in this country is appalling. While some districts are struggling to keep their doors open, to simply provide transportation for students at all, districts like this are able to give their students WiFi access on the bus?
I teach in a rural district in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Our district covers over 1,000 square miles (larger than the state of Rhode Island) with only just over 800 students, K-12. Our students ride the bus up to 2 hours to AND from school, not total. We have a population density, in the primary county of our school district, of 8 people per square mile. We bus students from 4 counties to our school. Vail School District in Arizona is a megapolis compared to us. The nearest traffic light, Walmart, and town with a population over 10,000 is over 65 miles away. Our students are isolated and for the most part, poor. They do not enjoy the luxuries other places and schools provide.
Since our students do not have school issued laptops, and many of them cannot afford personal laptops, providing WiFi would be just another way to waste taxpayer money. Outside the village limits of the one small town in our school district, there is no access to internet other than through a dialup connection or satellite.
Good for Vail, good for its students. This is just one more indication that public education in this country is for the wealthy, not all Americans. We talk a good talk about equal opportunities, but in reality, the divide between the haves and the have nots in this country continues to widen each day. It is sad to see my students miss out on the opportunities afforded children schooled other places simply due to geography.
Until we even the playing field of education, providing truly equal opportunities for all students, I fear for our future, as we create generations of children unprepared to compete globally.
This saddens me deeply, thinking of my students, many who are economically disadvantaged already, coming from homes where education is not valued, where college is not even considered an option, and thinking of the great divide between districts. It simply is not fair. It starts my students out in the world behind those in other districts. It sets them up for failure before they graduate high school. I simply do not understand why we allow this to happen in our country?
Good for Vail. Good for all those districts that have money to spend on great ideas like WiFi on their busses! Why can't it be that way in EVERY school? Why aren't MY students just as worthy as those other places?