Education equity in Web 2.0 era

As education leaders were debating policies for empowering Web 2.0 schools earlier this month, the Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT Data Center released its 2011 reportĀ  looking at the educational, social, economic, and physical well-being of America’s children on state-by-state as well as a national basis.

The data should be disturbing to anyone who is involved in education:

  • 20% of children in the US live in poverty.
  • 31% of children in the US live in families in which no parent has full-time, year-round employment.
  • 34% of children in the US live in single-parent families.

What do those figures mean for schools? They mean that:

  • There are kids who will not be able to bring their PDs to school regardless of the school policy on PDs for the simple reason their families cannot afford personal devices such as laptops, Blackberries and iPads.
  • There are kids for whom the question of sending their teacher a friend request will not arise because they have no place to access Facebook. Public internet access is not as widely available as many people seem to think.
  • There are parents who won’t use the school’s website to access their children’s homework assignments because they don’t have a computer to use even if they know how to use a computer.

If learning is not confined to physical spaces like schools, perhaps instead of putting all our energies into discussing technology policies to empower Web 2.0 schools, we ought to put some energy into thinking about how to provide equitable access to education resources beyond the confines of schools.