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Former State Superintendent
of Public Instruction
Tom Torlakson

Title:
Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Org/Agency/Office:
California Department Of Education

Former State Superintendent Tom Torlakson has endorsed the School2Home program and has encouraged funders, state agencies and superintendents statewide to take the time to invest resources into programs that help parents and their students gain digital skills and learn about opportunities online including how to find lower-cost, affordable Internet offers.

In April 2020 Torlakson collaborated with  Former President of the State Board of Education Dr. Michael Kirst, LA County State Senator Susan Rubio and Superintendent of Napa County Office of Education Dr. Barbara Nemko to write a letter asking State Legislators, Commissioners of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and 58 County Office of Education Superintendents to “strongly support several bold initiatives to help ensure that students have access to computing devices and reliable, affordable home Internet and that their parents are secure in knowing that their children will not be left behind for lack of either.”

In the wake of pandemic-related school closings, they write, “We are focusing on a critical need that grows larger every day.  One in eight California households are either not connected or have only sub-standard connections to high-speed Internet at home.  This Digital Divide is inextricably linked to the pernicious, persistent Achievement Gap and its twin — the Opportunity Gap.”

The initiatives include:

State leaders urge Internet Service Providers to offer discount home Internet and WiFi plans for $15 a month or less to low-income California households and implement fast, easy-to-navigate sign-ups for households with a K-14 student — with a goal of enrolling all eligible student households by the end of 2020.

The Governor, California Department of Education and State Legislators identify a sustainable source of funding to reach 1:1 computing device capacity in K-14, with a stipulation that these devices can also be taken home for school work.

State policymakers charged with broadband capacity planning, including the CPUC and California Department of Technology with input from education leaders, speed up efforts to accurately map the state of broadband connectivity and, with County Offices of Education and Regional Consortia, promote broadband deployment and adoption in unserved and underserved rural areas and urban neighborhoods in greatest need