A middle school addresses the digital divide by providing families with low-cost laptops—and training that connects technology to community needs.
At 4:00 p.m., as Lilla G. Frederick Middle School wraps up its academic day, opportunities for learning are hardly winding down. Instead of heading home, a group of students meander to Grace Coleman's classroom. Coleman, a 6th grade humanities teacher, will facilitate this afternoon's "class," but the students who greet her as she sets laptops on tables will not be passive learners; they will be coparticipants and teachers—of their parents. Each middle schooler's mother, father, or guardian will gain skills—and get access to prized technology resources—that will help the whole family advance its middle schooler's academic achievement. As parents trickle in, each adult sits next to his or her child and prepares for a session of Tech Goes Home.
Tech Goes Home (TGH), a citywide program initiated by Boston's mayor Thomas M. Menino, has to date provided computers to more than 5,000 families of low-income students in 43 Boston public schools. Through attending technology training sessions at their local schools, recipients first learn to use these computers to meet important education and life goals. After 25 hours of classes, families can purchase a computer for $50. At Lilla G. Frederick, all students are welcome to participate, but sign-up is first-come, first-served, and there isn't always room for all students in a particular semester.