Professional Experience and Personal Reflections
by Lisa Bowstead, Founder

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So many students
don't have basic tools 
June 1, 2013

An article in the NY Post today reports that the number of homeless students in NYC public schools is at 53,000.  That's 1 in 20 students. All else being the same, that's 1-2 students in each and every classroom.

Read the article:

It's safe to assume that students who do not have a stable home are probably also not going to have computers, materials and a quiet place to study. It's important to remember that there are also many more students who have a permanent home, but little else. 

As a tutor and a student advocate, I remind teachers and schools all of the time that you cannot assume that your students have access to ANY technology when they leave school, let alone a quiet table, pencils and paper. 

Schools rebut that students can "always go to their local public library," but public libraries are cutting back on hours and are lacking funds to maintain their computers. Frequently, public libraries require patrons to queue-up for 30 minutes of access to the limited number of computers, they wait, take their 30-minute turn and then get back in the queue. Most HS students, and many middle school students, need many more hours to complete their assignments. I won't even go into logistics, family obligations and after-school jobs, each of which might make the student unable to visit the library during regular hours. 

I work with many students who attend academically challenging, magnet high schools for which they are expected to have access to the Internet 24/7. Teachers routinely post HW after 4PM (and many even after 8PM!!) that is "due tomorrow." Many students would rather take the blame for not doing the HW, than explain to teachers that their family simply cannot provide their basic necessities (a computer at home).

Many of my students have home computers that are more than 5 years old, and adults in the home who do not use computers. This means that school assignments that they start writing at school or in the library cannot load on their old software at home.This is often discovered as an 11th-hour crisis on a major term project. 

Yes, computers are great tools, for so many students and for so many different reasons, but as citizens of the United States, we are promised equal access to education, and that means that we must all also have equal access to the basic tools that are used: If we cannot provide technology for every student, we cannot REQUIRE it!