Expand the Parent & Family Technology Support Centers.

Testimony of Kristin Luebbert to the Board of Education 11/19/2020

Good Evening Board Members and Doctor Hite. My name is Kristin Luebbert, teacher, community member, and a member of Racial Justice Organizing and the PFT.

Tonight I want to talk to you about something that needs to happen right now in order to make remote learning better for our students and families: an extensive expansion of the Parent & Family Technology Support Centers.
The good news is that this is not a terribly difficult fix. The bad news is that I do not know if the will to work for the benefit of our families truly exists.

As you know, there are currently three tech support centers: One in West Oak Lane, one in the far Northeast, and one in South Philly. WHile those neighborhoods serve many students and are fine places to locate tech support centers, they leave huge areas of the city uncovered. West Philly, Kensington and North Philly, and North Philly west of Broad have no easy access to tech support centers. A student in the neighborhood of my school in North Philly would have to travel for at least 40 minutes and up to 90 minutes (one way) on public transportation to get to a tech support center. A student at Strawberry Mansion would have a one-way journey of 60 to 90 minutes, a student at West Philly High would traverse 45-90 minutes one-way, and a student at the Kensington Complex would have a similar quest.

Of course this all supposes that SEPTA is running on time, that students can navigate several bus, trolly, subway and El transfers, AND that parents–rightfully worried about the increasing gun violence in our city–are comfortable with allowing their children to go hither and yon in unfamiliar neighborhoods in order to access tech support. Elementary age students would most likely need an adult to accompany them.

Another barrier for our families are the inadequate hours of these tech support centers: 9:00 Am to 3:00 PM 4 days a week, and 9:00AM to 5:00 PM one day a week. These hours clearly DO NOT consider working families or students who would miss at least half a day of school in order to get the chromebook to a center.