When COVID-19 forced schools to offer remote learning, access to computing devices and the Internet became a significant issue for many children. Although digital divide had been talked about before the pandemic, remote learning made it a paramount issue for schools, teachers, and students. Oakland in California took an innovative approach to bring access to devices and Internet connectivity to all students in the city. The story was reported by Javeria Salman of the Hechinger Report in April 2022 (read the story here). In this episode, we have invited the reporter and two guests from Oakland to reflect on their story.
More info about our guests after the video
Javeria Salman is the digital news producer, and she reports and writes the Future of Learning newsletter. She covers K-12 education issues through the lens of innovation and technology, and helps manage social media. Before joining Hechinger in 2019, she worked as a local news reporter in eastern North Carolina. Her work for Hechinger has appeared in Telemundo, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, The Christian Science Monitor and the Solutions Journalism Network. She attended community college in New Jersey before graduating with a bachelor’s degree from East Carolina University.
Born in Kansas and raised in New Jersey, Jordan Mickens studied psychology and economics at Williams College. After two years consulting, he transitioned to a career in education, teaching high school math and coaching basketball at traditional public schools in Oakland, California. Jordan left the classroom after 2017 to join Clever, an edTech company, where he worked with over 300 school districts across the U.S. to increase access to technology while also helping school districts understand the usage and efficacy of their edTech programs. After COVID-19 forced school closures, Jordan joined the office of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf as a LEE Public Policy Fellow, leading Mayor Schaaf’s #OaklandUndivided campaign to close the digital divide for students. Jordan left his position as the #OaklandUndivided Project Manager in 2021 to attend the Princeton School for Public and International Affairs, where he is pursuing a Masters in Public Affairs. Jordan continues to support #OaklandUndivided as a strategic advisor and hopes to advocate for equity-based and anti-racist policies that correct histories of oppression and exclusion.
Patrick Messac is the Project Director for #OaklandUndivided, an equity-based collective impact initiative that was launched by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf in May 2020 in partnership with the City of Oakland, the school district, TechExchange, and community based organizations. Prior to this role, Patrick served as a teacher, administrator and non-profit director in Bay Area Title 1 schools, and was school-based at the start of the Pandemic, an experience that profoundly shaped his understanding of digital equity and his approach to leading the coalition. Patrick earned his BA in Public Policy for Duke University and a M.Ed from Arizona State University.