Ensuring Equal Access to Tech

Originally posted in Medium.

2015-01-23 07.53.14

For some, technology has made the world a smaller place and brought us closer together. For others, the gap between the haves and the have-nots has widened. Take technology in schools for example — students in certain schools, primarily where the poor and people of color reside, still lack access to the basic technology and tools they need to help them succeed in today’s world. A University of Chicago study has found that “at-risk” youth — including low socioeconomic students — in Chicago use technology less than other students. The same report also revealed that increased technology use was correlated with higher student outcomes.

As a student, I attended my neighborhood public school in Chicago and from a very early age, I felt the difference between the haves and the have-nots. Now, as a teacher in the same system, the gap has become even more apparent.

I grew up here and went to my neighborhood school. Like many public schools at the time that primarily served low-income students, there was very little technology in the building. My school had a computer lab equipped with 30 or so desktop computers, but it was only used by students who needed remediation. The first time I used a computer at school was during an after school class when the school decided the high-performing students needed technology exposure before high school.

In high school, all this changed. I went to Whitney Young High School — Chicago’s first magnet school. Suddenly, technology was everywhere. We had two computer labs, a TV production lab, and a media lab. It was an amazing transition. I felt empowered and trusted, like I was in control of where my future was going because I finally had the right tools at my fingertips. This is where my passion for education began, and part of what drove me to become a teacher. I knew — even back then ­– that if more students had this type of access and these experiences, it could be a game changer.

For the past 13 years, I’ve been teaching at Enrico Tonti Elementary School, a school that has the luxury of providing our students with technology, though not without effort. Many students at Enrico Tonti don’t have access to the level of technology required for future careers, so that the school has taken it upon itself to provide access to those tools. My students have access to so much more technology than I ever had and it has made a huge difference.

Our students are learning to use devices at a young age. In kindergarten, they learn how to handle the equipment, use QR codes, take screenshots, type, and even code. Eventually, students learn to create digital content and by fifth grade they design their own websites. Students use technology during the day to work on self-paced learning programs tailored to meet them at their specific level. The best part is how well this is working; in a survey we gave, nine out of ten students said that they pay more attention and focus better when using technology. This bodes well for their future careers.

Although we’ve come a long way since my time in elementary school — Enrico Tonti is proof — there’s still more we can and must do to narrow the gap. In a city where poverty and crime are so closely linked — where 2,995 people were shot in 2015 — we must find ways to educate youth who need it most. It’s the only way to bend the curve of systemic poverty and make our city safer and more prosperous.

Technology is not an end in and of itself and I certainly don’t think it’s the answer to all our educational problems. But we must be aware of the message we are sending to our students if we don’t address the barriers that currently exist. All students should have access to the types of devices and programs they’ll be expected to navigate as adults. If we don’t show them we trust them, who will?

As the politics around the future of Chicago Pubic Schools intensify and new deals and policies are discussed and negotiated, let’s be sure that we are not forgetting our city’s most vulnerable youth and that we do everything we can to equip them with the tools they desperately need to succeed. We’ve made some progress since my years as a student, but our work is not finished.

introductions. of sorts…

Originally posted in Medium.


of sorts…

Hello, I am Mr. Frausto and am very excited to be teaching in the computer lab and using the Internet a lot more in the classroom, especially to create a space on the Internet that extends what we do in the classroom out into the real world.

I have been teaching since September 2001, and have been teaching in Chicago since 2002. I love living in the neighborhood in which I work because it makes me feel extremely connected to my students and their families, especially since my family has lived in this neighborhood since October of 1994. I feel very connected to my students being a product of the Chicago public school system myself. I hope to inspire my students to establish goals and to then set in motion actions to achieve them. Having been very fortunate to have taken part of various diverse learning experiences myself, I hope to prepare my students to become active participants of an ever-evolving technological and multicultural world. I believe that it is important for students to be able to express themselves, their feelings, and thoughts. I hope this space is being created in my classroom, and now on the World Wide Web.

In my spare time, I enjoy reading and writing. Some of my interests include poetry, photography, video editing, music recording, web design, coding, traveling, and history.

from Tonti’s Computer Lab

i am me, a teacher, a po’ E.T, artivist, journalist, librarian.
short e aka 5ynthet1c m1t0515 of the lonely lost dark empties. a dreamer, a wanderer, a wonderer. still trying to find sense, crashing against spaces of the mind. not sure anymore about me or about u. it’s stopped making sense a long time ago, falling deeper into the rabbit hole. where am i again!?! what? never mind… don’t expect me to say anything. i came to watch. it’s too complicated. “who needs action when you got words.” “i’m a loser baby, so why don’t you…” and stuff.

i am just like you, with too many words inside my head, and too many ideas floating around, but i am just like you, regardless of what the voice inside my head may attempt to convince us of.
i can usually be found working with students, and when i am not, i am working on myself in my community with a pen and paper and a camera interacting with my laptop, a mic, garageband, a guitar, and a midi player…

in the future, where will we be? in the future, what will we be? i am po’E.T. today! tomorrow who knows?
and they say he spoke in two tongues, armed like two guns…

from urban po’E.Tree(s)

Well, I am currently a computer science/technology teacher who’s been writing poetry regularly since I was 12. What began as something I did at night, while hiding in my room, has turned into an obsession of sorts. Poetry is my therapy, joy, a home, a friend, a companion and partner in dialogue. I want to share this relationship with my students, and hope they also find a way to find their voice through poetry.

Compiled in these posts are poems created mostly by third through fifth grade students along with the process as to how assignments/activities are selected. Students have been members in the school’s Spoken Word club or have been a student at some point in one of my classes.

The official title of the club/class was “Spoken Word: Poetry, Raps, and Lyrics”, which is currently non-existent, but won’t be for long. I guess I will also post some of my poems, which I write specifically for the students of the Spoken Word club, my classes, and community.

I’m hoping that eventually this blog becomes a continuous conversation about poetry, in particular the poetry of children.

The Poetry of Children

Breaking schemas
The molding of tomorrow’s youth
Into plastic soldiers
With replaceable, interchangeable personalities,
Guns, and names.
Marching away into the eve
Of tomorrow’s dawn,
Children’s poetry
Will be
Bullets and gunshots ricocheting off the walls
That once supported dreams.
Left trying to decipher,
Marks on the wall,
Messages in graffiti,
If there was ever any
Cavemen left their marks on walls,
But these new scars relate misguided,
Disenchanted, disenfranchised urban youth-
Revenge on the concrete
Built on superficial ideals,
Wasted energy, fading hope, and savage inequalities.
Historians will remain in awe
At stains of blood,
Of murder filled books juxtaposed with fairy tales.
And these stories are yet to be recorded and written.
Depending on who dictates the future,
And how much everyone’s allowed to know,
They may never get written.
Thus the
Children’s poetry
Must not fall on
Or off
Deaf ears,
So that deviant behavior and memory
Will continue to remind
And perhaps the whole conscious
Of present society,
Of those ignored, gentrified, and pushed to the outskirts
Until permeating the psyche.
Being that truth cannot be
Hidden or buried,
Children’s poetry
Will come out beating
To rhythms the color of love
That most people have already long forgotten.
Beatings and rhythms,
Washing out
The bitterness the present has left us.
Or maybe it’s just me that keeps hearing
The same thing,
The same song
That everyone’s been singing.
All the radio’s been playing.
Dewey would argue what the schools have been teaching
For centuries since the Romans and Greeks,
Or what corporate entities dictate through promoting.
Nobody’s been listening,
Nobody is listening,
Nobody is listening
To the
Children’s poetry.
Cause what could they possibly teach anybody?
Children’s poetry,
Strange mutterings,
But transmissions
Have had a tendency of being
And thus the message has yet to be
Fully understood.
But children still believe in poetry.
Translating messages for history,
Some must start then decoding these writings and movements
Before an eternal silence befalls us all.
Trying to figure
Children’s poetry,
Already hiding in alleys,
Break dancing, and drawing on walls.
Trained to be just like little adults.
Learning quickly to bully and scheme,
How to politic and maneuver,
Next comes the nervous breakdown.
Screaming, shouting, shooting in schools.
It’s already happening.
Nobody’s been listening,
Nobody is listening,
Nobody is listening
To the
Children’s poetry.
Listening to the static off the vinyl
Interwoven into the grooves
Until foundations come down crumbling
Off the bass
From the
Children’s poetry.
Yelling to be recognized
As a single living identity, entity,
Independent of society’s standards and schemas
Of how children are supposed to be.
The whole of society seems bent and content with silencing
What echoes tremble in the voice of
Children’s poetry.
Dancing, running, playing, exploring, discovering
Without guides, barriers, or grown ups
At peace to develop like haiku:
The child once had thoughts
Till order became borders
The child could not cross.
The child still has dreams,
But rules are raised up like walls.
Free the child in me.
Free the child in me.
Please. Free the child in me. Please.
Free the child in me.
Free the child in me.
Please. Free the child in me. Please.
Free the child in me.


from spoken word: poetry, raps & lyrics.