Homework Takes Over the Library

Homework shouldn't be put on the internet instead of paper.

Opening Statement

Homework should not be put on the internet because some kids can’t access their homework.

Evidence Agreeing With the Statement

  • “The laptops we do have, the batteries aren’t working,” said Patricia Readon, a librarian working the children’s desk at the South Dade branch in Cutler Bay. “You can check out a laptop, and the next 30 minutes it’s dead.
  • Pauline Theobolds' 12-year-old son was using a laptop. She explained that she has a computer at home, but it doesn’t seem to work properly with her son's school connection. Theobald needs to leave the library at 6:30 p.m., so she can get to her job as a nurse. “The other night was tight because they didn’t have any computers,” she said.
  • “We really shouldn’t be requiring kids to go to the library to complete assignments,” Diaz said. “A project or something special is OK, but not daily homework assignments that are dependent on computer use.”

Evidence Disagreeing with the Statement

  • Miami-Dade’s library system has an extra $4 million to spend this year. But with higher salary costs, longer hours for larger library branches and more money being spent for children’s books and online tutoring, the system doesn’t have the money to buy more computer stations, said Gia Arbogast, the head of the library system.

  • On the bright side, Arbogast said, the library has replaced aging laptop computers with new tablets, which should ease the pressure at crunch time on school nights.

  • Morua’s long wait for a computer offers a flip side to the current debate over how to get people to use Miami-Dade’s libraries.

Where We Stand

We agree with the statement. Some students don't have the resources like a computer at home and the fact that most homework is being put on the internet is a major set back. When there is written homework assignment people seem to at least notice their homework. It would work if students were able to bring home laptops from school. But with HOMEWORK on the computer, students are having a problem trying to complete it every night. Everyday some students have to wake up early to finish homework they aren't able to complete that night and it is sad that they have to go to the library just to get their homework done.

Our Article to Support the Evidence


MIAMI — Christina Morua sat in the busy children’s section of her local library on a recent Thursday, while her fourth-grader waited for a computer.

“We don’t have any Internet at home,” said the 28-year-old single mother. As Morua spoke, her oldest, 11-year-old Abel, clicked through an assignment on a library laptop while fourth-grader Alina, 9, waited for a desktop so she could finish her homework. “We just reserved a computer. We have to wait 70 minutes. He got one of the last laptops.”


Long Lines For Library Computers

With more school materials heading online, kids across the country find they can no longer do their homework at home. That leaves libraries as much-needed places to do homework. However, money problems, reduced hours on school nights and aging equipment have made it harder for libraries to have enough computers to go around.

  • “The laptops we do have, the batteries aren’t working,” said Patricia Readon, a librarian working the children’s desk at the South Dade branch in Cutler Bay. “You can check out a laptop, and the next 30 minutes it’s dead. The sad part is, if you don’t have a computer, you can’t do your homework.”

  • Morua’s long wait for a computer offers a flip side to the current debate over how to get people to use Miami-Dade’s libraries. Ideas include offering office space for business startups, placing a Starbucks near the checkout counter and 3-D printers for techie do-it-yourselfers.

Yet for families without access to the Internet, libraries have become the place to be on school nights. The lack of computers, though, has them complaining.

  • Pauline Theobolds' 12-year-old son was using a laptop. She explained that she has a computer at home, but it doesn’t seem to work properly with her son's school connection. Theobald needs to leave the library at 6:30 p.m., so she can get to her job as a nurse. “The other night was tight because they didn’t have any computers,” she said.

An Ongoing School-Night Demand

  • Miami-Dade’s library system has an extra $4 million to spend this year. But with higher salary costs, longer hours for larger library branches and more money being spent for children’s books and online tutoring, the system doesn’t have the money to buy more computer stations, said Gia Arbogast, the head of the library system.

  • On the bright side, Arbogast said, the library has replaced aging laptop computers with new tablets, which should ease the pressure at crunch time on school nights.

Computers "are a priority for us,” Arbogast said. “It’s an ongoing demand that we are struggling to keep up with.”

Miami-Dade’s school system discourages teachers from assigning online homework if all students in the class do not have the Internet at home, said Sylvia Diaz, an assistant schools superintendent for Miami-Dade public schools.

  • “We really shouldn’t be requiring kids to go to the library to complete assignments,” Diaz said. “A project or something special is OK, but not daily homework assignments that are dependent on computer use.”

Still, the school district recently began using digital history textbooks for high school freshmen. All ninth-graders get tablets loaded with the books. Younger students use an online program called Reflex Math, which looks like a video game and can be accessed by students 24 hours a day.

Too Few Books

Isaiah Goulbourne, 16, and a junior at Miami Norland Senior High School, said he uses a textbook for English, but it never leaves the classroom. “We’re not allowed to take them home because there aren’t enough for everyone,” he said. “Most of our textbooks are accessible online.”

Goulbourne said he relies on the North Dade Library for online schoolwork because he does not have Internet access at home. Internet is much needed at the library in Miami Gardens, where one in five residents lives below the poverty level.

A 2011 survey of young library-goers found about 45 percent reported having no online access at home. The latest U.S. Census Bureau survey estimated that 19 percent of children nationally live in households without Internet.

Advocates of online computer access say that teachers have to make sure students from low-income families do not have to leave home to complete their homework. That puts them at a disadvantage. Zach Leverenz is the CEO of EveryoneOn, which works with Miami-Dade to provide online access for students at home. He said the schools should not depend on students finding public Internet hotspots.

"It's Rather Challenging"

Programs do exist to help low-income families get cheap or free Internet at home. The district also plans to try harder to make sure poor kids have equal access to technology.

“The goal is really to get to a point where kids do have a personal device and have Internet access outside of school,” Diaz said. “Unfortunately, so many of our kids are poor, so it’s rather challenging.”

For Morua’s son Abel, online homework has made multiplication much more fun than it might be for an 11-year-old sent home with a math workbook. The library laptop’s screen showed a T-shirt-wearing cartoon character next to a math problem. “That’s my avatar,” Abel said, while his sister still waited for a computer.

Michele Stiles, the manager of the South Dade Library branch, said she has seen similar waits for computers at other locations. If a student can't finish homework because there aren't enough computers, the student can get a note from the librarian.

“If you ever come here and there is a long wait for a computer,” Stiles told Morua, “you can get an ‘excuse note’ from the front.”

MIAMI — Christina Morua sat in the busy children’s section of her local library on a recent Thursday, while her fourth-grader waited for a computer.

“We don’t have any Internet at home,” said the 28-year-old single mother. As Morua spoke, her oldest, 11-year-old Abel, clicked through an assignment on a library laptop while fourth-grader Alina, 9, waited for a desktop so she could finish her homework. “We just reserved a computer. We have to wait 70 minutes. He got one of the last laptops.”

Long Lines For Library Computers

With more school materials heading online, kids across the country find they can no longer do their homework at home. That leaves libraries as much-needed places to do homework. However, money problems, reduced hours on school nights and aging equipment have made it harder for libraries to have enough computers to go around.

“The laptops we do have, the batteries aren’t working,” said Patricia Readon, a librarian working the children’s desk at the South Dade branch in Cutler Bay. “You can check out a laptop, and the next 30 minutes it’s dead. The sad part is, if you don’t have a computer, you can’t do your homework.”

Morua’s long wait for a computer offers a flip side to the current debate over how to get people to use Miami-Dade’s libraries. Ideas include offering office space for business startups, placing a Starbucks near the checkout counter and 3-D printers for techie do-it-yourselfers.

Yet for families without access to the Internet, libraries have become the place to be on school nights. The lack of computers, though, has them complaining.

Pauline Theobolds' 12-year-old son was using a laptop. She explained that she has a computer at home, but it doesn’t seem to work properly with her son's school connection. Theobald needs to leave the library at 6:30 p.m., so she can get to her job as a nurse. “The other night was tight because they didn’t have any computers,” she said.

An Ongoing School-Night Demand

Miami-Dade’s library system has an extra $4 million to spend this year. But with higher salary costs, longer hours for larger library branches and more money being spent for children’s books and online tutoring, the system doesn’t have the money to buy more computer stations, said Gia Arbogast, the head of the library system.

On the bright side, Arbogast said, the library has replaced aging laptop computers with new tablets, which should ease the pressure at crunch time on school nights.

Computers "are a priority for us,” Arbogast said. “It’s an ongoing demand that we are struggling to keep up with.”

Miami-Dade’s school system discourages teachers from assigning online homework if all students in the class do not have the Internet at home, said Sylvia Diaz, an assistant schools superintendent for Miami-Dade public schools.

“We really shouldn’t be requiring kids to go to the library to complete assignments,” Diaz said. “A project or something special is OK, but not daily homework assignments that are dependent on computer use.”

Still, the school district recently began using digital history textbooks for high school freshmen. All ninth-graders get tablets loaded with the books. Younger students use an online program called Reflex Math, which looks like a video game and can be accessed by students 24 hours a day.

Too Few Books

Isaiah Goulbourne, 16, and a junior at Miami Norland Senior High School, said he uses a textbook for English, but it never leaves the classroom. “We’re not allowed to take them home because there aren’t enough for everyone,” he said. “Most of our textbooks are accessible online.”

Goulbourne said he relies on the North Dade Library for online schoolwork because he does not have Internet access at home. Internet is much needed at the library in Miami Gardens, where one in five residents lives below the poverty level.

A 2011 survey of young library-goers found about 45 percent reported having no online access at home. The latest U.S. Census Bureau survey estimated that 19 percent of children nationally live in households without Internet.

Advocates of online computer access say that teachers have to make sure students from low-income families do not have to leave home to complete their homework. That puts them at a disadvantage. Zach Leverenz is the CEO of EveryoneOn, which works with Miami-Dade to provide online access for students at home. He said the schools should not depend on students finding public Internet hotspots.

"It's Rather Challenging"

Programs do exist to help low-income families get cheap or free Internet at home. The district also plans to try harder to make sure poor kids have equal access to technology.

“The goal is really to get to a point where kids do have a personal device and have Internet access outside of school,” Diaz said. “Unfortunately, so many of our kids are poor, so it’s rather challenging.”

For Morua’s son Abel, online homework has made multiplication much more fun than it might be for an 11-year-old sent home with a math workbook. The library laptop’s screen showed a T-shirt-wearing cartoon character next to a math problem. “That’s my avatar,” Abel said, while his sister still waited for a computer.

Michele Stiles, the manager of the South Dade Library branch, said she has seen similar waits for computers at other locations. If a student can't finish homework because there aren't enough computers, the student can get a note from the librarian.

“If you ever come here and there is a long wait for a computer,” Stiles told Morua, “you can get an ‘excuse note’ from the front.”