Speaking on the essential nature of equity work in education, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor once said, “Until we get equality in education, we won’t have an equal society.” At KidsTek, we work in many ways to increase equity for our students, through differentiated learning, professional development for our staff, and our ongoing efforts to close “the digital divide” through both education and increased technology access. As an organization working exclusively in Title 1 schools, approximately 84% of our students are low-income and 91% of our students are non-white. We must continually strive to listen, learn, and act to better serve all of our students and our community.
A main feature of KidsTek has been our laptop distribution program. Generally, one middle school student from each after school session and every high school student who passes our course with a C or above receives a laptop. This year, with the spring semester disrupted by the novel coronavirus, our first concern was ensuring that our students had access to the technology they needed to continue their learning remotely. Because of this, we distributed laptops to every KidsTek high school student, regardless of their grade. Given that, according to the Pew Research Center, about 3 in 10 low-income households lack a computer, increasing access to technology is a huge part of the work of equity.
In addition, this summer, as part of our ongoing professional development efforts, KidsTek staff will engage with topics such as fostering equity and inclusion in the classroom, trauma-informed practices, and other essential knowledge for educators. KidsTek is also a member organization of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, an organization that works “to craft, identify and disseminate financial and operational resources for digital inclusion programs while serving as a bridge to policymakers and the general public.”
At KidsTek, our vision is that every KidsTek student is empowered and prepared for the future of their choice. Inclusion and equity are absolutely essential to that goal and we will continue to work towards the goal of equality in education.