Something that came up at a phone-in school board meeting this week struck us as important and worth a closer look. Hank Muchnic, an Amagansett board member and the father of three public school students, said he had noticed that a laptop computer the school had provided for one of his children could scarcely manage to keep up with the demands put on it by remote learning. Responding, the school’s technology director said she believed that the Chromebook computers the students had been supplied with were about four or five years old and had been scheduled for replacement over the summer. Four years is forever when it comes to many electronic devices. In Bridgehampton, a scramble by the school and the Child Care and Recreational Center was required to fill the gap in home computer ownership and internet connectivity.
Fully functional laptops can be purchased for under $400 now. The device on which this editorial was written was on one of these. Across Long Island school districts and in the rest of the country, there is a massive gap between the digital haves and have nots. Beyond the stay-home classes during the pandemic, tech has become essential to a complete education.
Decent computers are relatively cheap. It is impossible to put a price on the cost to children who cannot keep schoolwork up without them.