May 2, 2014
At the invitation of School2Home, two commissioners representing the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai and Mignon Clyburn, separately visited two of Los Angeles-area partner schools: San Fernando Institute for Applied Media (SFIAM) and Muir Middle School. Both congratulated the schools for their innovative use of technology to make a positive difference in their students’ lives, and used their visits to advocate for expanded broadband in schools during an important gathering of FCC policy makers a few days later in Washington, D.C.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai sat in on Mr. Peña’s 8th grade class at SFIAM, which was studying world religions. Mr. Peña introduced the concept of tessellation. Commissioner Pai admitted, “I had never heard of the word, but that was soon to change.” Mr. Peña asked the students to put the term into Google Images on their iPads. He then asked them to describe what they saw and why they thought Islamic art and architecture used tessellation so extensively. “In their own words—and I confess I did the exercise in my own mind!—the students described an infinitely recurring series of geometric shapes. They then surmised, correctly according to Mr. Peña, that it was used to exemplify the infinite power of God,” Commissioner Pai recounted at the D.C. hearing. “I’m pretty confident that those kids did not just hear, but learned—that they will retain more knowledge thanks to a technology-based approach. After leaving Mr. Peña’s classroom, he met with SFIAM parents, along with Principal, Institute officials from the Los Angeles Unified School District, the California Emerging Technology Fund and School2Home partner, the Youth Policy Institute. “The parents told me that the school’s embrace of technology has had a huge and positive impact on their children. The others suggested that there was even more they could do with a modernized E-Rate program,“ he said.
FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn visited Muir Middle School, where she toured three classrooms to observe how the middle school students were using tablet computers, providing real-world examples of the importance of broadband in learning. Principal Kurt Lowry and Muir teachers described how the School2Home program improves student research skills and learning self-sufficiency, in addition to promoting student collaboration and student-teacher communication. The Commissioner also visited with “Mouse Squad” students who meet after-school to learn how to troubleshoot basic IT problems to help their classmates and teachers when they encounter problems.
The Commissioner participated in discussions with leaders from Los Angeles Unified School District, School2Home partner LA‘s Promise, and the California Emerging Technology Fund. The leaders spoke about the critical need for affordable home broadband for low-income students so students can do their homework, collaborate with other students and ask questions of their teachers after school hours. CETF said there are very few discount broadband offers available in low- income communities in Los Angeles, which greatly disadvantages students seeking to improve their academic performance.