I checked with my last class of the day. This thirteen-person, small class had only three students with computers at home, and one of those computers was broken. Only one student lived in a home with a full computer set-up. Almost all students had internet access through their phones, but two students had no internet access at all.
A better operational definition of the word “disadvantaged” would be hard to find. My own children were practicing keyboarding before they entered elementary school, and always had access to a computer with an internet connection and printer. They were perfecting internet search skills in elementary school. My youngest constructed a couple of rudimentary websites before she left elementary school. In contrast, my students find information retrieval to be a baffling process at best. A few have problems with log-ins. Many classrooms in my school have only a few laptops to share within small groups, laptops that must be picked up and returned daily.
Eduhonesty: Normally, I stay away from school finances. Money can be overrated as a fix for educational difficulties. Some older, math textbooks are easier to understand than their prettier, new counterparts. Expensive calculators are often overkill, at least before high school. Students don’t need Promethean boards. They can definitely learn from transparencies placed on overhead projectors.
With that said, I’d like to observe that keyboarding, along with computer search-and-retrieval skills, should be taught at an early elementary level. As finances are allocated, getting computers into the classroom ought to trump almost all other considerations. A number of middle school children in my classroom cannot figure out how to look up what happens to a plant deprived of sunlight. These children have fallen frighteningly far behind.