Board votes to promote computer science education and reduce digital divide

LOS ANGELES (May 8, 2018) -- The Los Angeles Board of Education voted unanimously today to pass a resolution to ensure access and equity of digital tools for all students.

"We must close the digital divide and our schools are on their way," said L.A. Unified School Board President Mónica García, who sponsored the resolution, with Board Vice President Nick Melvoin, and Board Members Dr. Ref Rodriguez and Kelly Gonez as co-sponsors. "Digital equity is critical as we prepare twenty-first century global citizens in L.A. Unified."

Entitled “Empowering Today’s Learners for Tomorrow’s Increasingly Digital World through Access and Equity of Digital Tools and Resources” the resolution affirms the board’s commitment to leveraging resources – including future bond support – to increase student access to digital tools and media, promote curricula that teach safe and responsible technology use, and provide access to computer science courses for all students.

“Our increasingly digital world unlocks limitless opportunities for our students, but only if we give them the necessary tools to open those doors,” Vice President Melvoin said. “This requires a commitment not only to more innovation in the classroom but also increasing access to the internet and digital devices for our highest-needs students at home.”

“When I visit schools across my district, the number one request principals make is for more digital access,” Board Member Rodriguez said. “Because our educators know that their students’ potential is impaired without it. As part of the District’s efforts to achieve digital equity, I am confident that we will continue to integrate technology thoughtfully into quality instruction, in service of our greater goals of improved graduation rates and student success beyond their time in the L.A. Unified system.”

“I am proud to affirm the District’s commitment to provide a high-quality, twenty-first century public education for all students,” Board Member Gonez added. “We are building on our promise to eliminate the digital divide. And we know it goes beyond mere access to technology, requiring that we prepare students for the cutting-edge careers of tomorrow.”

In April 2015, the District’s Instructional Technology Initiative (ITI) Task Force convened to develop a District-wide vision for instructional technology resulting in a set of recommendations founded on the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards to support the preparation of twenty-first century learners and leaders.

In June 2016, the board adopted the refreshed ISTE standards, calling for students to be empowered learners, global collaborators, creative communicators, knowledge constructors, digital citizens, computational thinkers and innovative designers to live and thrive in today’s world.

The district’s instructional technology efforts and support models have been nationally recognized by the Consortium for School Networking, the Center for Digital Education, the Southern California Professional Development Schools and the Learning Counsel.

“Economic circumstances should never be an impediment to education or career opportunities,” Board Member Dr. Richard Vladovic said. “Our students should not wind up on the wrong side of the digital divide just because they are living in economic circumstances that might limit their exposure to twenty-first century industries. We must provide equitable access to digital tools and learning to our students across all income levels.”

L.A. Unified’s Chief Academic Officer Dr. Frances Gipson – who chairs the task force – thanked the board for their commitment to providing students with what she says are the necessary concepts, practices, and skills to be competitive now and in the near future.

“In today’s digital world, the use of technology is like breathing,” she said. “A continual, simultaneous exercise that is both simply elegant and complex. We must empower our learners to breathe in these opportunities that close gaps. We are keenly aware that to do so it's about leading with instruction, instead of leading with a tool.”

                                                                       ###

Contact: Shannon Haber (213) 241-6766