Letters to the Editor

FWay schools way behind on computers

The recent Mirror news article (Oct. 25, “Schools hope for a brighter tech future”) about the Federal Way school district’s technology funding was inaccurate. The district’s neglect of technology funding is not a result of recent budget shortfalls, but is a pattern which has been ongoing since the Vander Ark years.

Computer availability in Federal Way schools is grossly inadequate. A recent count of computers in my son’s school, Valhalla Elementary, found that more than 60 percent of the classrooms do not have a single personal computer designated for student use. The typical classroom pattern is one PC on the teacher’s desk and three to five Apples for classroom use, 25 to 50 percent of which are only semi-functional (the district has declared the Apples obsolete and will not service them). Most of the Apples were at Valhalla when my older son was in kindergarten; he is now in the eighth grade. Even the fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms average less than 1.5 PCs per classroom.

Valhalla does not have a computer lab. There are six PCs in the library (and several of the ubiquitous, semi-functional Apples). However, the district, in its wisdom, has decreed that only one brand of PCs will be serviced, and three of the Valhalla library’s are of the off brand. Woe to any school which purchased PCs under previous administrations, or received them from other sources.

Is this the way Federal Way approaches the 21st century? Are we so focused on reading and the WASLs that we will leave our children in the dark age of technology? Are other schools in our district as bereft of 21st century technology as Valhalla? Maybe computer technology should be added to the WASLs, so that districts will make it a priority.

I do support the technology levy, but believe it is woefully inadequate. Will it be four or five years before the ancient Apples are replaced at Valhalla? How long will Valhalla students continue to use outdated and inferior software because their computers won’t run anything made in the 21st century?

We as parents and community members need to hold the district accountable to provide appropriate tools to our students. It is not acceptable in the 21st century for children to grow up without exposure to current technology. All children in the Federal Way district should have access to computers, not just those whose parents can afford a PC at home.

Mark Baughman

Star Lake

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