State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond recently announced that the California Department of Education has teamed up with technology companies to make more than 500,000 computing devices available for California students in need.
According to a press release from the CDE, as the 2020-21 school year began, it became clear that worldwide technology disruptions resulted in the backorder of hundreds of thousands of devices, making it extremely difficult for districts to fulfill their unmet computing needs.
“We cannot stop until we know we have leveled the playing field for every student in California by connecting them to the technology they need to succeed now, and in the years ahead,” said Thurmond.
During a virtual news briefing last week, Thurmond said the CDE has been working directly with technology manufacturers like ASUS, CDW, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Samsung to identify and prioritize available devices for California students. Additionally, they are working with technology resellers like Staples and Office Depot to increase the availability of devices for students and families in need.
“At a time when there is a worldwide shortage of devices, I want to thank these companies for prioritizing California students, and I am proud that we have been able to work together to give school districts a unique chance to equip every student in need with a computing device,” Thurmond said.
These devices are in addition to the internet-enabled iPads prioritized for California students under a collaboration announced last month between the CDE, Apple and T-Mobile. That partnership will connect up to 1 million students with internet-enabled iPads at discounted prices.
The state is encouraging districts to make short and long-term investments in student technology by utilizing one-time state funding that was allocated to districts earlier this year to help strengthen distance learning and mitigate learning loss.
In addition to securing new technology for students struggling to connect during distance learning, Thurmond also announced that the CDE has helped secure and distribute hundreds of computing devices, hotspots and accessories for students in communities across California that were affected by the devastation of multiple wildfires. The state reported that as of last week, at least 36 schools and 12,000 students were known to be in evacuation zones.
According to the CDE, Thurmond and the Closing the Digital Divide Task Force continue to focus on identifying solutions that expand reliable internet access to low-income students and households in underserved rural communities. Since April, the task force has worked with internet service providers to secure commitments to expand discounted service to households in need, and with the California Emerging Technology Fund to address low-income service programs.
As technology is increasing in high demand, districts are encouraged to order devices as soon as possible. Schools can find regular updates on available devices on the CDE Securing Devices and Connectivity for Students web page.