At least 177 Fremont High School students, or 23% of the student body, have no internet access. At least 192 students or 25% of the student body at Elmhurst United have no internet access. At Global Family in the Oakland Unified School District, at least 140 students, or about 32% of the student body, are without internet access.
This is unacceptable, say members of the Oakland Education Association. “In the absence of internet access for all students, ‘distance learning’ is a lie,” said OEA President Keith Brown. “We know that distance learning is no replacement for classroom teaching but in this moment, universal access to internet is absolutely a basic, educational right that all students should have free access to.”
That’s why some 350 teachers, parents, students and community members issued a letter to the Oakland Unified School District superintendent and the city mayor, demanding they “take all necessary measures” to ensure that public school students have access to the internet.
Their push for education equality continues through the #Internet4All campaign. Parents and members of the public can still sign the demand letter to Mayor Libby Schaaf, Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell and elected officials on the Oakland City Council and OUSD School Board. Educators ask the public to share their concerns on social media using the #Internet4All hashtag. Those who want further actions and campaign developments can email OaklandInternet4All@gmail.com.
Educators are demanding the city and OUSD arrange with internet providers to provide free universal internet throughout the city, especially to every household with a child under 18 years of age and/or an Oakland USD student. They also want the city and district to coordinate with internet companies to develop a timeline for city-wide Free Public WIFI.
“Our demand is one of equity for all students, especially for those in high needs flatland schools,” said Brown. “We expect and demand immediate attention to this problem so that our most vulnerable students do not continue to suffer academically from this pandemic. Every day, students (disproportionately students of color and low income students) are missing out on valuable learning. We are requesting a public, open, online meeting as soon as possible.”
The California Department of Education records show that statewide one in five, or 1.2 million public school students, have no computers or internet at home. “We literally are having thousands of students who have not checked in,” said California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. “California has so many resources. It is an embarrassment that we allow any of our students to go without a device or internet connectivity.”
Read about how other Bay Area districts are dealing with internet resources for student shortages here.