Increasing technology in the classroom

Cesar Chavez Elementary School student Jailynn Bermudez tries out a few sample math questions typical of those found on the Smarter Balanced Assessments. (Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner)

A few years back, someone posed this question to me: For a school district located in one of the most tech-savvy cities in the world, why are our schools so far behind with technology?

You probably know the short answer. Money. It’s more than just money to buy technology, it’s the money to actually ensure that technology is well-utilized.

There is a cost for the technology, but there is also a cost to ensure that teachers learn how to use the technology to maximize student learning. It costs money to employ knowledgeable staff who can maintain the technology at more than 100 schools across The City.

But, I’m happy to report that with growing investments from the public and private sectors in recent year, the San Francisco Unified School District is reimagining its schools, and technology plays an important part.

Laptops for educators
Over the past year, we delivered 1,500 work laptops to our full-time, certificated special education teachers, teachers who take attendance online and our counselors.

These laptops assist with creating and monitoring online Individual Education Plans, attendance, tests and more. In just the past few weeks, the SFUSD deployed more than 300 laptops to even more educators, and our target this year is to equip 3,000 staff members.

Rapid communications
I don’t have to tell you that people are communicating more frequently and rapidly than ever before.

Sometimes it’s absolutely critical for our schools to reach parents with important information, and fast.

That’s why we now have an updated, incredibly robust program through SchoolMessenger so that if something happens at your child’s school, we can send you a text, an email and a phone call within minutes (as long we have your up-to-date contact information).

Computer science
We not only want our graduates to know how to use technology, we want them to be able to create with it. The SFUSD has already begun expanding computer science education in high schools and middle schools. Soon all our students — preschool and elementary too — will be learning the language of computers.

You may have heard that Salesforce just announced a third-year commitment to the SFUSD, to the tune of $6 million, to support Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education in the school district, including the expansion of computer science classes. Thanks to Salesforce, approximately a third of our middle school students are taking computer science right now.

We’re making progress, but of course there is still a tremendous gap between what we want for all students and what we can afford. Visit to learn how you can support our schools with instructional technology.

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