The 2017-2018 school year will bring new freshman, new sports teams, and the beginnings of a system that will shape the classroom and make it continuously harder for poor students to keep up with the curriculum. Bring your own device (or BYOD) is the new program coming to Corona High School next year which will make every student responsible for bringing a computer or a tablet to school. While this contradicts the school’s anti-phone and anti-distraction position it has maintained for the past few years, the administration is confident that having technology and the ease that comes with it available to students will outweigh the risks involved in bringing tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of machinery to a high school.
Having every student within access of internet and programs like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel is not without its merit. The practicality of BYOD means that families would be responsible for the technology gap in public schooling, making for classes that are more efficient and engaging. And the concept leads to the possibilities of whole new avenues of learning that would not be possible before. Technology makes tasks more engaging however mundane they are, and if staff can translate that to learning then school will become the institution that it thrives to be.
However, the sad reality is that the program is doomed to fail or at the very least hurt a lot of students learning to succeed. The immediate issue that most people are familiar with is the thefts and damages that these devices insure. It won’t be very surprising when students’ laptops are stolen or broken on campus. The office has said that they will not be taking any legal or personal responsibility for these losses. Assistant Principal Jeyan Danesh states that, “We won’t take responsibility for these devices but we encourage students to report stolen property and keep the serial code on the back of the machine so we can identify lost or stolen devices.”
But the most serious issue that will arise is the aspect of the monetary strain it will put on the families of Corona High School, especially the ones will multiple students here. To expect every family to pay hundreds of dollars for a device is unrealistic and creates a gap between those who can and can’t afford high end devices leaving poorer students forced to use the increasingly substandard laptops provided by the school. This also brings up the question of bringing the aspect of paying for better learning. Although this is a common thing in society with the existence of private and charter schools it has primarily stayed vacant from public schooling.
The BYOD program opens up a pathway for wealthier students to spend more money on fancier software and machines and increase the wealth gap in schooling. The purpose of public schooling is to create an equal learning environment for all children. But if only wealthy families have access to better technology than that creates an unfair advantage and directly goes against the point of public schooling. “…this is a common issue with no real solution but is outweighed by the benefits of the program,” said Mr. Danesh. With no concrete answers to these pressing issues we have to ask if the school is prepared to handle a shift to technology of this scale.
Finally, the Assistant Principal goes on to say, “…We and District are still in the planning phase of the program, and that there is a lot of careful planning going into it.” Most information is not set in stone but it will most likely start with just 9th grade and then expand to more grades. So prepare for the new program as well as the benefits and challenges that come with it.