Newark’s University Heights Charter School (UHCS) announced today that it has purchased over 850 brand new laptop computers and will begin distributing them to each of its students on Wednesday, October 14.
The six-figure investment is one of a series of school-wide initiatives, under Dr. Christy Oliver-Hawley, who joined UHCS last Summer as Head of Schools, which also includes the hiring of three new principals for each of its three schools (PreK thru Second Grade, Elementary School, and its Middle School), 17 new teachers, and host of newly created instruction and courses for its student body.
“Every child, and I mean every child, deserves access to a great education,” stated Dr. Oliver-Hawley. “During this global pandemic, families across the country have faced significant challenges, but let’s be honest, Newarkers have been facing many of these challenges for generations. Our students matter, and for too long, inequity, racism, and a lack of funding have created a significant gap for our black and brown scholars. We must provide every child with the tools they need to succeed, and today we are making a significant step in our strategic plan to ensure greater fairness and opportunity.”
“Last Spring, like so many schools across the country, UHCS was suddenly forced to transition its classrooms to a distance learning model quickly. We found that many Newark families did not have the needed tools to attend remote classes – and some had to literally choose between putting food on the table or adapting to the new technological requirements of public school. Under the cloud of COVID, this truth was ignored by our federal government, so addressing this issue became our mission,” stated Nicole Butler, Chair, University Heights Charter School Board of Trustees. “As a public charter school, we actually receive less per pupil than a pubic district school, so traditionally we have learned how to do more with less. Purchasing brand new laptop computers for our entire student body was a six-figure investment, but by working together, listening to each other, reviewing our budgets, creating savings, and making this a priority, we were able to make it happen.”
“I want to thank the UHCS Board, Dr. Oliver-Hawley, and her entire team for funding and prioritizing this initiative and providing my child with a computer,” stated UHCS 3rd Grade Parent Jasmine Pruett. “Since COVID-19, so many families in Newark and across the country have faced tremendous challenges. As a public school, UHCS has been an anchor for my family, but we need to realize that many are not connected to a great school. There are still so many other families that need help, and we all must continue to fight to ensure black and brown children receive the same opportunity and support as those in the suburbs.”
Just this week, the New York Times chronicled the significant learning loss taking place in the United States because many students face a “basic challenge” – they do not have computers at home or have the wifi technology to attend online classes. As stated in the article, “In 2018, 10 million students didn’t have an adequate device at home, a study by education nonprofit Common Sense Media found. That gap, with much of the country still learning remotely, could now be crippling.”