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Harlem Parent Laptop Initiative

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

When the pandemic hit New York City with the largest school district serving over 1.1 million students in 1,800 schools closed in March of 2020. All across 31 school districts in the five boroughs, also including districts 75 and 79. For those that don’t know district 75 is for students with Autism, significant cognitive delays, emotional disturbances, sensory impairments, multiple disabilities. As well as District 79 in New York City’s alternative high school for our older students.

Fast forward to today January 2021 with 10 months of remote learning, with only 4 months of blended learning, and now about one week with some schools moving to five days a week of in-person learning. One can only imagine how many of our students needed devices to continue remote learning.

So the DOE spent money and lots of it, $269 million at that for 300,000 students. It was wasted on iPads that don’t have keyboards, but hey at least they gave you a case. It has been quoted by DOE spokeswoman Miranda Barbot as “A cost-effective long term investment in our kids that will be used as an educational tool long after the COVID crisis passes.” But one can also ask how can a device with a tracking system installed in order to make sure that these same kids return them be an “investment” for their education needs after the “COVID crisis passes” as quoted by her.

As of October, just a mere 4 months ago 77,000 devices were still missing in the hands of many remote learning students. Even though Mayor de Blasio claimed in the same month that “for weeks that every student who needed a device had gotten one”. With data that was released by the DOE showed that a large number of Black and Hispanic students had a low engagement in remote learning. And the number one reason for this was due to the lack of devices and WiFi in the communities forgotten by the DOE, Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Carranza.

I even found that there were claims from the DOE that they will order Apple external keyboards for the upper grades that needed them to better use the ipads given to them. I searched and searched and couldn’t find any report or student that has gotten a keyboard as of yet. But if you are out there, please let me know!?!


“No student should fall behind due to the lack of access of technology”

And let’s be honest, even if they came with keyboards, these are ipads that came fully programmed already. With one app that has been completely removed, that being the App Store. I understand why maybe this app has been removed, possibly to ensure that they only use it for what is needed. What I do ask is why maybe they didn't limit what they can download from the App if anything. Then to top it off there are programs that kids are expected to use that don't open in the browser of an iPad or phone. One example is the famous iReady that many schools use to access students in how they are doing with math and reading.