Have the New Brunswick government Fully fund required laptops for high school students

Have the New Brunswick government Fully fund required laptops for high school students

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PETITION TO THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF NEW BRUNSWICK

TO THE HONOURABLE THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF NEW BRUNSWICK, ASSEMBLED:

THE PETITION OF THE UNDERSIGNED RESIDENTS OF THE PROVINCE OF NEW BRUNSWICK , HUMBLY SHEWETH THAT CONSIDERATION BE MADE OF CITIZENS CURRENT INCOME LOSS DUE TO THE PANDEMIC TO QUALIFY FOR SUBSIDIES FOR THE LAPTOPS BEING REQUIRED FOR ALL NEW BRUNSWICK HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS IN THE FALL TERM.

In the words of Brittany Merrifield as quoted by John Douglas Cairns:

Dear Premier Higgs, Minster Cardy and all our New Brunswick MLAs,

Thank you for recognizing that New Brunswick parents will need your assistance for the upcoming school year. That being said, I have some serious concerns about the newly announced requirement for high school tech and the attendant assistance program.

1) The department has left this until a month before school and the panicked stampede of people trying to access this equipment may cause a supply chain issue leaving some children with no equipment. This tardy announcement also has not left parents any time to save money for a significant new cash outlay.

2) I’m uncertain why a purchasing juggernaut like the Government of New Brunswick is not using their buying power to make this purchase themselves.
GNB should be accepting applications for the rebate and then purchasing the laptops at wholesale or cheaper.

3) Equity - To ensure equity across the board, the department should see that every child receives the same laptop with the necessary programs installed. Otherwise it will be a patchwork of crappy old secondhand laptops and high end MacBooks. This will leave children behind and also further highlight disparities in family income. The program as it currently stands will widen the divide between students which I consider an unacceptable situation.

4) New COVID income realities - the assistance program as I understand it is based on the 2019 tax year. Where COVID was not a reality. Many who were making a certain salary in 2019 are not now due to COVID related job losses, yet are ineligible for the assistance program.

5) Minister Cardy stated in an interview yesterday that: “I am not counting out phones because I have seen a student type an entire essay on a phone” . This is an admission that the Minister is ok with kids struggling with the tech they are mandated to have to use. This is an unacceptable situation for our province’s children. Additionally, the equity issue raises its ugly head again here - the child who has a high end laptop has a learning advantage over the child who is trying to fumble through tabs on his mom’s old Samsung or iPhone 5.

I would strongly urge the Minister and all our provincial representatives to take a hard second look at this roll out. It makes much more sense for GNB to purchase and provide Chromebooks (as an example) and accept assistance vouchers or payment programs as they do in other jurisdictions. The current plan of patchwork tech will be a nightmare for our educators on the ground, inequitable for our children and a heavy financial burden for many parents.

WHEREOF YOUR PETITIONER HUMBLY PRAYS THAT YOUR HONOURABLE HOUSE MAY BE PLEASED TO FULLY FUND THE REQUIRED LAPTOPS FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS REQUIRED FOR COVID SAFETY, AND AS IN DUTY BOUND YOUR PETITIONER WILL EVER PRAY.