Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
I’m a resident of Lathrop with two children, a 4th grader and a 7th grader, attending Lathrop Elementary School in the Manteca Unified School District. I was notified via take-home handout last Wednesday, Jan.7, that Manteca Unified is “going digital” and is providing each child with a tablet for school use. After reading through the Student Computer Equipment Agreement Packet and attending the required meeting at the school, I felt compelled to do some research online and came across three of your articles:
1. (Nov. 8, 2014) Whatever happened to a free education? Manteca Bulletin. Retrieved from http://www.mantecabulletin.com/archives/117194/;
2. (Dec. 17, 2014) Would Steve Jobs have embraced Going Digital for his kids? Manteca Bulletin. Retrieved from Would Steve Jobs have embraced Going Digital for his kids?; and
3. Going Digital: Will somebody watch your kid in his bedroom? Manteca Bulletin. Retrieved from http://www.mantecabulletin.com/section/38/article/118865/.
Thank you for writing these articles. I’ve been unable to articulate my feelings with respect to the Going Digital program, the way in which it is being forced upon my family, and the way in which it intrudes on our personal lifestyle at home. You conveyed my thoughts and addressed many of my concerns in a way that I was unable to do myself.
I’m not opposed to my children using tablets in the classroom for educational purposes, but I resist the idea of being financially responsible for the devices and allowing my kids to bring them home, especially knowing that each device has a camera feature and that MUSD has the ability to monitor the use of the device at all times. The school is pressuring me to sign a Student Computer Equipment Agreement that was prepared by the District in its favor, and my 4th grader told me that her teacher is going to make her sit against the wall at recess and call home if I don’t return the signed Agreement.
I’m employed at a law office as an office manager, and the attorneys who prepare legal contracts and agreements have a system that benefits all parties involved. Each party is entitled to make revisions to contracts and agreements before they are finalized and executed. However, the MUSD parents did not have any input in the drafting of the Student Computer Equipment Agreement and are being bullied into singing it.
How is this okay? Can the District legally punish the students if their parent(s) choose not to sign the Agreement? Can the District legally force the parents to be financially responsible for the devices? Why can’t the 4th-12th grade students have the option of leaving the devices at school and using a personal computer at home to complete homework? Will we have to move our kids to another district if we don’t want to participate in the Going Digital program? These are questions I’ve been asking myself.
I’ve asked my employer these questions, too, and we have a meeting next week to make sense of all of this. I’m not trying to be a nuisance to the school or the District, but I want to be informed before I sign an agreement that I don’t fully understand yet. From what I’ve read, it seems that the Agreement doesn’t benefit the students or their parents in any way, yet it provides the District with all the advantage. If it turns out that I’m not legally obligated to sign the Agreement, then I would appreciate having that knowledge. I think other parents would, too.
Again, thank you for your thoughtful articles.