Impoverished Florida Schools Get Tech Makeover
High Poverty Florida Schools have Negligible Tech Equipment
Florida schools have long struggled with the wide disparities between schools in affluent neighborhoods, and those that serve the state’s weaker sections in high poverty pockets of the state. Low economic status of the students has been proven to be detrimental to a student’s learning ability. Along with other factors like the student’s intellectual capacity and economic status of the schools he or she attends, its not anything that Florida schools can do much about. It’s not surprising that most Florida schools in the state’s poorest belts rank so low on standardized tests.
As a result of these poor performances, many Florida schools that cater to the poor are denied precious funding that would otherwise help them introduce new programs, renovate structures, or upgrade existing tech equipment in their schools. Of all these possible uses for funding, the most important from the point of view of preparing students for life in the real world is undoubtedly access to state of the art computers and technology. With a knowledge driven global economy in which only those with at least minimal computer skills will make the cut, schools that aren’t able to offer access to the latest equipment are in danger of failing their students. Many Florida schools lag dismally in this regard with many students forced to use aging equipment or share computers with other students.
Big Business Backs Florida Schools
Now there appears to be some good news for impoverished Florida schools. Microsoft Corporation’s anti-trust settlement reached with several states, including Florida, means the software giant will shell out funding to each state which will be used by the state’s education department. In Florida’s case, this funding will be in the form of vouchers valued at over $80 million. The technology vouchers will go towards purchasing new computers and software, and will directly impact those Florida schools that would otherwise have no access to the funding for these upgrades.
Benefits to Florida Schools
The schools expected to benefit are those that have at least half the student population on reduced price or free lunches. According to Florida education authorities, at least 1,790 schools with student populations of a total of 1.1 million will be eligible for these technology vouchers. Half the vouchers will be utilized for upgrading existing software and purchasing new ones, while the remainder will be used for hardware. A chunk of the money will also go towards programs that include curriculum development, and training of Florida schools administrators. With this windfall, computer labs at Florida schools will get a much needed shot in the arm. The main beneficiaries will be the students in these Florida schools who will receive much needed access to current technology.