The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) surveyed a number of schools and considered the LCFF (Local Control Funding Formula) statistic to determine how many students throughout the district need a computer and Internet access at home. According to a study conducted in August and September, 14,097 students do not have computers or high-speed Internet access at home. That represents about 40 percent of the student population in Oakland, most of whom reside in West and East Oakland.
That’s a staggering number of people who are forced to jump from public computer to public computer just to complete their homework. Thankfully there are many options for accessing a computer, like through the Oakland Public Library and Youth UpRising, as mentioned in the article. But it’s not a substitute for having home access, especially when many service agencies are closed during the holidays.
A few great programs out there are working to address this divide. Oakland Technology Exchange West (OTX-West) provides free computers to anyone with a child in the Oakland school district. Also, ReliaTech offers low-cost refurbished computers to anyone. Both promote the low-cost Internet options that have been negotiated through EveryoneOn. Click here for more information on low-cost Internet.
I think that Michael Hunt from Youth UpRising sums the issue up well. Hunt said that when computers and high-speed Internet are out of reach for some members of a community, it creates a kind of segregation by limiting where people can work and advance their education and careers. “What so many take for granted cannot in good conscience be denied to those who need it most,” he said.