Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The School District of Janesville is Seizing the Opportunity to Conquer the “Digital Divide”

We all want the best for our children.  We want them to be proud of their work as adults, with a measure of success, and economically independent to provide for themselves and their own children.   We also want them to live in a dynamic and vibrant community.  “If fidelity to freedom and democracy is the code of our civic religion, then the code of our humanity must be faithful service to that unwritten commandment, “We shall give our children better than we ourselves received.””
The community of Janesville is providing a measure better; in 2009, a $72M referendum was completed renovating both Craig and Parker high schools, and provided technology access and centers throughout both buildings.  Building on the physical renovations, a renovation of both curriculum and instruction is underway.  From the floor up, “Project Redesign” is focused on preparing Janesville students for the 21st Century with a more rigorous, relevant and engaging school experience.  Staff and Administration are committed to all children graduating with the capacity to become their personal best – and contributing members of society.  Today, this means that all graduates need to use technology well, and that their literacy skills have a fundamental foundation in three more literacies: information, media, and technical.  Gone are the days when the three “R’s” are enough. 
But there is a digital divide – a divide of technology access; of information literacy; of technical knowledge.    
In Wisconsin, 36% of all households do not own a computer; and this gap is even more significant when incomes are factored into the equation:  75% of Wisconsin households with incomes below $15,000 are without a computer.  Generally, we are in the middle of the nation as it relates to technology access and use – but the digital divide is startling as those who need to sharpen their skills the most are the least likely to have home access. 
There is a correlation between technology access and higher levels of income.  In the high-tech industry, those workers earn an average of $22,700 MORE per year than other private sector workers.  Clearly, the higher one’s technical skills and knowledge, the greater one’s income levels – and greater family incomes opens doors for even greater opportunities.
We are all focused on the best for our children; everyday: in every school, in every classroom, we are focused on what’s best for children and their families.  In coming weeks you will read more about our focus on the three new literacies:  Information, media, and technical – and how we are addressing the digital divide gap so that all of our children realize their fullest potential.

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