The San Diego County Office of
Education has helped thousands of families get refurbished computers and
discounted internet access this year.
The effort is in collaboration with the nonprofit groups
Connect2Compete and Computers 2 SD Kids as well as Cox Communications.
Any family with children in a participating school can get a
refurbished computer filled with educational software for $65, and those who qualify for free lunch can also
sign up for high-speed internet access for $10 a month.
The effort ties in to SDCOE’s Strategic Plan, which
emphasizes the need to develop initiatives that encourage digital literacy for
all students. With internet access, students are able to do more school work
from home, participate in online lessons and access information more easily.
“I think what we see in this county is some districts and
students are much more inclined to implement innovative technologies in the
classroom because they’re confident that the students have access to those
technologies at home,” said Joseph Hartman, technology integration architect
with SDCOE. “We call that the digital divide.”
SDCOE employees have worked with schools, districts, parents,
and other organizations to help facilitate and promote the services. Employees
with the Migrant Education Unit also have volunteered to help at the
“A lot of migrant families don’t have computers, and this
gives them an opportunity to at least have one so their kids can do their
homework,” said Luis Murguia, a migrant outreach worker with SDCOE.
So far this year, Computers 2 SD Kids has distributed more than 4,000 computers to families in Vista, Chula Vista, and Escondido.
On Wednesday, there were nearly 70 families picking them up at Monte Vista
Elementary School in Vista.
Families at the event said they thought the computers
would help their children do better on schoolwork.
“It’s for the kids,” said Marisela Sanchez, who picked up a
computer Wednesday. “We want a computer so they can study more and don’t need
to go to the library.”
Ron Diaz said that even though he already has a computer,
getting one for his grandson will help prepare him to get ahead in life.
“For anybody who wants to do anything important in life and
get ahead in life it’s necessary to be hooked into a computer,” he said. “If
you aren’t, you’re in bad shape.”
Families can see if they qualify for the discounted internet
service at the Connect2Compete website.
Connect2Compete started with a pilot program to bring
low-cost internet access to needy families in 2011 in nine San Diego County
school districts and has now expanded nationwide, including 38 of the county’s
42 districts. Computers 2 SD Kids has been distributing computers to low-income families since 2005.
This is the first year that the SDCOE has arranged for
families to be able to pick up the computers and sign up for internet access at
their neighborhood schools.
“With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards and 21st-century
learning concepts, computers are more important than ever,” said Charlene
Manuto, principal at Monte Vista Elementary School. “They’re no longer going to
be an extra. They’re basically going to be a requirement for learning.”
Photo: Volunteers with Computers 2 SD Kids distribute computers Sept. 25 at Monte Vista Elementary School in Vista.