Archived Issue Archived Front Page of TCLA - Vol.1, No.2 - The Digital Divide (Spring 2001)
Teaching to Change LA The Digital Divide
Spring 2001 Vol.1, No.2
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UCLA/IDEA
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< Democracy 2000 - Fall 2000 >
Idea of the Week

"The First Year" -
A new documentary featuring UCLA grads Joy Kraft-Watts and George Acosta

What Does Digital Democracy Look Like?
map
map

The above maps, created by students at Jordan High School, suggest the patchwork nature of digital access across LA-area schools and homes. Some students attend classrooms with 5 or more computers ‘wired’ to the Internet, while other students study in classrooms that have no computers. Some students log onto personal e-mail accounts from home, while other students must, in the words of Roosevelt High’s, Armando Soriano "scramble" to locate computers for use within their community. As is the case throughout the nation, students in Los Angeles’ low-income communities of color have less access to the Internet than students in predominantly White and affluent areas.

This issue of Teaching to Change LA argues that these differences matter. We take exception to the view set forth by Michael Powell, Bush’s Chairman of the Federal Communication Commission, that the "Digital Divide" is much like the "Mercedes Divide"—an inevitable and benign feature of our consumer economy. Computer access is not a luxury item. Rather, it is a precondition for educational opportunity and democracy in 21st century Los Angeles.

Parents and students alike recognize the importance of computer access to educational opportunity. Emma Street, a parent at Hosler Middle School, reasons that since "everything is being computerized," the city has an "obligation to see that all [its] children" are prepared for the "technological age." Dorsey High 11th grader Genell Denise Price, views computers as an essential tool for fulfilling her college preparatory curriculum.

Wired schools do not, by themselves, insure educational opportunity or meaningful civic life. Parents, students, and educators must advocate for the democratic use of computers. For Lynwood community liaison Mary Johnson, this means that computers housed at public schools should be available for use by parents and students. According to the Community Coalition’s Eva Castillo, students need to use the web as part of their political education, including learning how politicians and city departments are, and are not, serving the needs of the local community. For UCLA's Jane Margolis, young men and young women, of all races and classes, must have the opportunity to "invent, design, and create" computer technology. Such a digital democracy promises a better future for all of Los Angeles. As Carmen Gómez, a fourth grader at Inglewood’s Woodworth Elementary puts it, "Eso es mi sueño."

John Rogers is the Associate Director of IDEA.

<< Digital Divide Summit >>
June 7 @ UCLA
Digital Divide Summit On June 7th, 150 students and ten parents from nine Los Angeles area schools attended Teaching to Change LA's Digital Divide Summit. Representatives from each school made a short presentation offering their definition of the "Digital Divide" and suggestions on how to bridge this divide. Additionally, a panel of community members and researchers answered questions posed to them by the summit participants.
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About TCLA
About TCLA
TCLA aims to make public the information and activities that further social justice in Los Angeles communities. Find out what prompted the creation of TCLA, who worked on this issue and the ways you can submit work to the journal.
LA Teachers
LA Teachers
Census 1790: A GIS Project
Herschel Sarnoff explains how he taught his Jordan High students to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping software to create maps representing US census data from 1790.
LA Students
LA Students
Digital Divide Summit
On June 7, 150 students from elementary and secondary schools from across Los Angeles attended Teaching to Change LA's Digital Divide Summit at UCLA. Read these students' thoughts on ways to reach technological justice.
Parents & Community
Parents & Community
Creative Control
Three young African-Americans from Inglewood with little formal technological training taught themselves and each other how to shoot, edit and distribute professional quality films with a digital camera and a personal computer.
LA Voices
LA Voices
"Computers are important, but not as important as family and friends."
- Marisol, Grade 5
Braddock Drive Elementary School, LAUSD
Politics & Education
Politics & Education
The Next Digital Divides
Howard Besser, co-director of the UCLA/Pacific Bell Initiatives for 21st Century Literacies writes, "Just as we not only teach students to read, but we also teach them how to write, how to assemble their writings into forms others will want to read..., in a digital age we need to teach our students how to author and distribute digital works."
Books & Links
Books & Links
From David Bolt and Ray Crawford's The Digital Divide, to Bill Clinton's National Educational Technology Plan, this site offers book reviews, links, and resources on the "Digital Divide" for educators, parents, and students.
Talk Back
Talk Back
We’d love to hear from you! Let us know what you think about TCLA and Los Angeles schools and find out how you can submit a story to TCLA.

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Copyright © 2001 Teaching to Change LA/IDEA, GSE&IS, UCLA. All Rights Reserved.
Questions regarding this journal should be addressed to
tcla@gseis.ucla.edu.