The Highlander

FCPS should equip students for the future

Implementing one-to-one computing will propel FCPS into the 21st century

Comic+by+Dasha+Makarischeva
Comic by Dasha Makarischeva

Comic by Dasha Makarischeva

Comic by Dasha Makarischeva

Staff Editorial

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Technology has infiltrated McLean. Essays are no longer submitted in person; they’re due via SafeAssign on Blackboard. Math is no longer with pencil and paper; it’s being taught through online applications like Mathspace and Albert.io. With the rapid increase in technology in education, Fairfax County Public Schools needs to meet students where they are—and that means giving each student their own laptop.

Technology can be a great way to level the playing field between students of different socioeconomic backgrounds. Having unlimited access to a computer could help lower-income students perform better in school.

“I think the county should go one-to-one first and foremost to promote equity in the school system,” School-Based Technology Specialist Nishi Langhorne said. “A lot of students have their own personal devices but there are many, many students who don’t.”

A Michigan State University study found that one-to-one computing significantly increases students’ English, math and science test scores. Additionally, the widespread use of technology in school essentially mandates that students have their own computers.

“It’s really important for kids to have easy access to laptops and technology in general because if you think about it, that’s how [we] learn,” senior Aarushi Desai said. “[We] use Google, Blackboard, even the stuff teachers assign is over the internet. [Laptops would be] very useful to have with you because everyone uses technology.”

This added convenience would be especially evident in the math classrooms where online applications have essentially taken over the courses.

“I noticed that in the BC [Calculus] classes, students started using computers to do all their work also I know in my math class, Multi Var, we’re using Mathspace and things that are online to do problems,” senior Bilen Essayas said.

One-to-one programs have been proven to increase student performance in and out of the classroom.

“One of the benefits is that with technology, teachers can kind of differentiate and meet the needs of all different learners,” Langhorne said. “I think it’s going to help students be more successful in their classes.”

Despite the numerous benefits, the one-to-one initiative is not a guarantee because of its substantial upfront cost. However, in the long term, the investment could help mitigate other expenditures that cost the county millions every year.

“While yes, it is an expensive initiative, I think it also takes certain expenses out of the picture,” Langhorne said. “For example, paper. You wouldn’t believe the amount of money we spend on paper and printers and all of those devices that we wouldn’t need as much [if each student had their own computer].”

Though it is compelling, this shouldn’t be the county’s only reason for allocating the necessary funds. Fairfax County should invest in this initiative because there is a considerable need for the computers.

“[Because] the school [is] responsible for your time and your internet usage, they should also be responsible for financially supporting that with the use of laptops,” junior Katherine Walker said. “It’s not [the student’s] responsibility to purchase a laptop simply because teachers aren’t willing to put things on paper anymore.”

Though FCPS needs to be conscientious with its budget, investing in one-to-one computing is an imperative decision that the school board should approve at its Oct. 15 meeting.

“This initiative supports 21st century learning, and I think it will prepare students… for the real world because we use technology every day,” Langhorne said. “It’s a big part of our lives and students need to learn how to use technology responsibly.”

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