April 17, 2020 By Christian Murray
Several Queens council members have penned a letter to Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza to let him know that many low-income parents have not received the equipment their children need for remote learning.
New York City public schools started remote learning on March 23 and many schools were able to provide students from low-income families with the computer devices needed in order to participate. However, according to the council members, many students have yet to receive the computer equipment—almost a month after remote learning began.
The letter–which was co-written by Council Members Francisco Moya, Donovan Richards among others—is calling on the Department of Education to provide data as to how many laptops, computers or tablets have been distributed to students in each school district.
The council members also want to know whether the devices were part of existing school supplies; were purchased by the DOE specifically for remote learning; or were donated.
The council members say that many of their constituents are doubting the DOE’s commitment to serving students from low income areas and they want the data to prove otherwise.
“These complaints are worrisome and have caused constituents to assume the DOE is not servings low-income neighborhoods as swiftly as higher-income neighborhoods,” the April 14 letter reads.
A DOE spokesperson said that the agency has distributed 175,000 school-based devices and is in the process of delivering additional devices to students whose family have asked for one by the end of the month—prioritizing the most vulnerable students.
The DOE is currently distributing more than 135,000 LTE-enabled iPads to students in need and aims to have them all out by the end of the month. It has shipped 105,000 iPads already.
The students who received the iPads first were public school students in shelters as well as those in temporary housing or foster care., according to the DOT. The agency, according to a spokesperson, has also prioritized high school students, students with disabilities, multilingual learners, students in public housing, and students who qualify for free- and reduced-price lunch.
“We’re delivering internet enabled devices to every student who’s requested one by the end of the month in an effort to eliminate the digital divide for students” a DOE spokesperson said in a statement.
“We prioritized our most vulnerable students for distribution and we’ve consistently transparently shared updates on these shipments, including sending communications to all families who requested a device informing them that we’ve received the request and their device is on its way.”
The DOE is asking parents who need a device to go to schools.nyc.gov or call 718-935-5100 and choose option 5 and request one. All devices, the agency says, will be shipped by the end of the month.
During these trying times, continuing students’ education is of utmost importance. I’ve joined my @NYCCouncil colleagues to call upon the Department of Education (@usedgov) to divulge data on how many students have received the technology necessary for remote learning. pic.twitter.com/rNEF3kiWEo
— Rafael Salamanca, Jr (@Salamancajr80) April 15, 2020