The American School Board Journal, July 1999, p. 25

Urban school districts are having a tough time when it comes to integrating technology into their classrooms and training their teachers how to use it, according to a new report published by the Education Writers Association (EWA) of Washington, D.C. The report, titled, “Barriers and Breakthroughs: Technology in Urban Schools,” examines school systems in four large midwestern cities—Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee—and finds potholes on the road to technology integration in these cities.

Size alone can lead directly to a district’s overall technology deficiencies, according to the report. The enormity of these districts often makes a centralized effort difficult, whether it’s in securing funds, training teachers, or providing support for repairing and maintaining computers and equipment.

Lack of centralization can result in a lack of equity—even within a single district. According to the report, some facilities have hundreds of computers, while others say they have few or none.

Urban districts have a further large obstacle to contend with when it comes to technology integration: aging buildings. In Chicago, for example, nearly half of all schools are more than 50 years old; wiring them for internet access could cost millions just in infrastructure improvements alone, officials say.