Yes, in this digital age computers and wi-fi are keys to success, but for areas that cannot afford the upgrades, schools are helped by an educational technology foundation.
When schools cannot afford new technology, young students may lag behind their more affluent peers in other districts. In upstate New York, the Educational Technology Foundation of Western New York is seeking to address the gap in funding.
Local businesses and companies donate computers and laptops to underserved schools and community centers, and volunteers oversee the installation.
The group hosts an annual Ed Tech Day, and more than 100 volunteers wired classrooms, reconfigured computer labs, set up servers and added wireless Internet connections in 12 local schools and community centers.
“Kids are the future, and having access to technology is something they need to have,” said Steve Dietz, an information technology coordinator for Suburban Adult Services Inc. “Otherwise, they’ll be left behind.”
That’s why Dietz, 28, has been volunteering each summer since 2008. Tuesday, he was the site leader at Our Lady of Black Rock School, overseeing the volunteers’ installation of 25 desktop computers and 17 laptops.
It was a big day for the pre-K-through-eighth-grade school.
About 80 percent of its students live below the poverty level. Many are immigrants and are still learning English – in fact, English isn’t the native language for 28 percent of its students.
There are 18 languages floating through the halls. Many students emigrated from Eastern Asia, North Africa, South America and the Middle East.
“They rarely have this technology at home,” said Charles Pyrak, the vice chairman of the school’s board of trustees. “So to have Ed Tech here and the donations of used computer equipment is God-sent for their educational purposes.”
In today’s age, the school’s youngsters need access to the Internet and technology to compete with their American-born peers for jobs.