School is now in full swing. Back to school shopping has been completed. Paperwork has been filled out and filed. Extraneous school fees for things like orchestra, sports, etc., have somehow been paid. You breathe a sigh of relief and get ready for the typical drama that any new school year brings as your child navigates friendships and homework.
And then your kid comes home and declares, “I need a graphing calculator for math.” Ummm…okay. We don’t recall seeing that on the supply list but we’ll get right on it. We can find a calculator at any type of Dollar Store, Walgreens, etc. No problem! And then reality hits. A quick google search shows that the average price of a graphing calculator is around $100.
We can swing $100 but it is an unexpected major blow to our budget. And since we are hard hit by this expense, we can only imagine that many families find the purchase simply impossible. There are some free, and some low cost, apps of graphic calculators. But purchasing apps works on the assumption that all families have unlimited access to the web and that teachers will allow personal devices, like iPhones or iPads, in their classrooms.
No family should be faced with an unaffordable educational purchase that is required for the successful completion of a class. And no child should have to deal with the embarrassment of figuring out how to ask the school for charity.
We live under constant bombardment of news stories and politicking calling for increased attention to STEM (Science/ Technology/ Engineering/ Math) curricula in schools. Students are taught on a daily basis that success in these fields is vital for their future careers. (Setting aside for the moment the question of whether a STEM focus is the best direction for schools to be heading…) How is a student supposed to find success in STEM classes if they aren’t given the tools required to learn those topics within our public schools?
It doesn’t have to be this way. If our nation values STEM classes, then our nation must also value getting a graphing calculator into the hands of any student who needs one.
So we reach out to:
- Mayim Bialik: Actress, Doctor, and brand amabassador for Texas Instruments Education Technology.
- STEM Education Coalition: Working diligently to educate on the critical role STEM education plays in the US.
- Bill Gates: Founder of Microsoft and philanthropist.
- Vi Hart: Recreational mathemusician.
- Danica McKellar: PhD Mathematician, Author of math books including “Math Doesn’t Suck” and “Hot X”, Actress
This is our starting list of influencers we call upon to join this cause.
Here’s our proposal:
Let’s work together to create a national program that puts a graphing calculator in the hands of any child age 12 – 18 for free. If a family can make a donation when they pick up their absolutely free graphing calculator, great! And if they can donate back their free graphing calculator at the end of their schooling career- fantastic! But nothing will be required to pick up a free graphing calculator beyond proof of age. It seems like such an attainable goal.
And so very necessary.
Who’s with us? We know there are many people (more than listed above!) passionate about education, math, and closing the severe educational gap caused in part by economic disparities. Local and far flung friends, let’s get this done for all kids in this country!
We will keep you updated with our progress as we move forward and as we find other possible solutions to this national issue. Every student should be able to pursue STEM classwork as far as their interests and aptitudes take them. No child should find a door closed to them because they lack the immediate resources to buy the tools needed to succeed.