Chromebooks, web-based devices that run on software from Google and are made by an array of companies, are in particular demand because they cost less than regular laptops. That has put huge pressure on a supply chain that cobbles laptop parts from all over the world, usually assembling them in Asian factories, Mr. Boreham said.
While that supply chain has slowly geared up, the spike in demand is “so far over and above what has historically been the case,” said Stephen Baker, a consumer electronics analyst at the NPD Group. “The fact that we’ve been able to do that and there’s still more demand out there, it’s something you can’t plan for.”
Adding to the problem, many manufacturers are putting a priority on producing expensive electronics that net greater profits, like gaming hardware and higher-end computers for at-home employees, said Erez Pikar, the chief executive of Trox, a company that sells devices to school districts.
Before the year began, Trox predicted it would deliver 500,000 devices to school districts in the United States and Canada in 2020, Mr. Pikar said. Now, the total will be two million. But North American schools are still likely to end the year with a shortage of more than five million devices, he said. He added that he was not aware of any large-scale efforts to get refurbished or donated laptops to school districts.
Districts that placed orders early in the pandemic have come out ahead, industry analysts said, while schools that waited until summer — often because they were struggling to make ends meet — are at a disadvantage.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, for example, spent $100 million on computers in March and said in September that it was unaffected by shortages. But Paterson Public Schools in New Jersey had to wait
In 1998, speaking at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, President Bill Clinton said, “Today, affluent schools are almost three times as likely to have Internet access in the classroom; white students are more than twice as likely as black students to have computers in their homes. We can extend opportunity to all Americans or leave many behind. We can erase lines of inequity or etch them indelibly.”
I was at the U.S. Department of Education when President Clinton gave this address. At the time, we were hard at work launching E-Rate, a sweeping effort born out of the recognition that internet usage was growing dramatically and had great potential to support k-12 education, but access to the internet was not universal. People in the education civil rights community had pointed out that there was a significant divide in terms of who could and couldn’t access the plethora of information available on the internet. In large segments of the nation (particularly rural areas and inner cities) local libraries, schools and museums had no internet service. The infrastructure and fiber cable necessary to provide internet service wasn’t there.
E-Rate is the federal program that offers schools and libraries a subsidized educational rate for telecommunications services, most crucially, internet service. Funded through the Federal Communications Commission, E-Rate was intended to get communities wired and close the
GILROY, CA — Distance learning presents challenges even amid the best of circumstances.
But for many Gilroy Unified School District students who despite living in the backyard of the world’s epicenter of technology, being on the wrong side of the digital divide has made a difficult situation nearly impossible, The Gilroy Dispatch reports.
Internet connectivity issues and substandard computers issued to students in anticipation of distance learning amid the coronavirus crisis have combined to leave many students behind.
Approximately 300 families in a rural swath of southern Santa Clara County are without internet access according to the report, which cites Comite Para La Justia, an advocacy group that’s working to bridge the digital divide.
Rosanna Alvarez, a supporter of the group, told The Dispatch that she believes the District is out of touch with the realities confronting students who don’t have the tools to keep up with basic educational requirements, let alone compete with students living in some of the county’s well-heeled communities.
“While it may not be the district’s responsibility to install wifi hotspots to ensure that every child has access to their education,” Alvarez said, “it is also worth noting that we are at week 7 of the school year and we still have families in Gilroy with no access, who are being written off as disengaged.”
Alvaro Meza, an assistant superintendent of business services said the District is applying for a grant to fund efforts to improve connectivity issues, the report said.
“No one single entity can solve this problem,” Meza told The Dispatch.
“Here’s an example of us continuing to work with the county office of education and with the city and their partners to see what can be done in certain pockets of Gilroy.”
Additionally, Meza said the board of education will recommend the purchase