It is an inherent right for all citizens to receive an education. But with that education, are there barriers that are being placed in front of learners? Do students have the resources, the teachers, and the environments they need to succeed? It's easy to answer no to those questions. We all know that there are teacher shortages, students come to school without supplies and use decade-old textbooks, and some environments are less than appealing, both at home or at school. That is obvious. However, when looking beyond those items, are invisible barriers placed in front of students without us knowing it?
These invisible barriers can be anything from school policy to classroom rules. School schedules, for example, can be a barrier. Need to take a dual credit or AP class? If it's offered once during the day, your schedule will now be built around that class. Hopefully that student will be able to get all the other required classes, too.
Technology use is another barrier for a student. That barrier seems that it would be a glaring. Some schools have adequate technology and some schools don't. But let's look closer at the schools that do have adequate technology. Some schools provide students with devices in a 1:1 situation. This can be both wonderful and scary at the same time. In this situation, it is common that out of fear (or in response to misuse), schools will block websites, installations, and downloads. This seems responsible. It's a way that adults are protecting young minds. However, rather than it being the responsible thing to do, it becomes a barrier for not only students, but the teachers trying to reach all the students in their class.
When access is withheld, whether it be withheld from students, adults, or both, it prevents adults from being able to do their jobs and provides opportunity for students to bend the rules. Instead of withholding access, proper use should be taught. Filters won't be available for people their entire lives. For many students at home, the Internet is completely open and some students don't even have a parent looking over their shoulders acting as a filter.
We need to take another look at how we set up access (or the lack of it) in education. Filters must be in place, but they don't have to be so strict. Proper use should be more actively taught rather than immediately placing locks and blocks when mistakes are made. Punishing the whole because of the few creates a barrier for all. And sadly, this catch-22 continues the cycle for the few. Our barriers, in turn, separate the haves from the have-nots, just because often, we find this the easiest and most immediate route.