A Modest Proposal


For dealing with the nuisances that NYCDOE devices bring to students and teachers, and for finding ways to reduce our dependence on this incompetent organization.


Joshua Ng


Since the time the NYCDOE came into existance, they have been known to be incompetent on a wide range of issues that negatively affect the many students it has during any given year. One of these issues is with the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of computers and devices the DOE has that are either loaned to students or provided to schools for in-class activities. These computers are very heavily used by many students and teachers for important tasks such as planning for a class or doing online assignments.

Yet as important as the work of students and teachers is, the DOE’s internal problems with itself and its computers heavily affect the ability for students and staff to do what they need to do for school. Specifically, DOE computers have a range of problems, from not booting up when desired, to being really slow and unresponsive to the demands of its users, to forcing its users to log in twice due to the DOE making people use their DOE email when logging in before logging into their school email. All of these issues negatively impact classes in various ways.

For instance, students who just want to get to Google Classroom to open an online assignment their teacher has given are forced to log in with their DOE email, then open Google Classroom, and then add their school email to load the assignment. This whole process can be annoying because the way the computers act slow makes it longer than it should be, especially with the double log in. Many people are forced to wait several minutes just for the page to load. The slow loading times impact teachers as well; teachers who want to load up an online lesson are also forced to wait for a long time just to log in and for the lesson to load. Additionally, teachers often plug in the computers that they use to a class TV or smartboard, which is convenient until the screensaver comes on and it takes a few more minutes just for the computer to boot up again. In essence, all of these annoyances eat up valuable classroom time that could have been spent on other things like teaching and checking in with students. While the DOE has tried to address this issue through getting new computers to replace old ones, the new ones are still slow because of the way our incompetent DOE manages them.  

The way the DOE has been incompetnent on managing computers and devices can be seen when they can’t get them working in a timely manner or ensure they run smoothly. Often, the DOE will install all sorts of unnecessary software on its devices, especially on their iPads. This software can be a nuisance to people because more than half the apps installed on the devices go unused because their school doesn’t use them and instead uses apps that can’t be installed on these devices due to the DOE’s restrictions on installing them. Additionally, some of the installed software might have the ability to track, spy on, and restrict students’ actions without knowledge or consent. The DOE might say that all of these apps, including the ones tracking student activity, are there for the “safety” and the “benefit” of schools, students and staff, yet as seen with schools and people the drawbacks outweigh the benefits. Having many apps contributes to the slow devices problem (especially considering that one can’t remove them), and the apps supposedly installed for student’s “safety” could actually spy on and restrict students without their permission, which some argue breaks the law. Just the fact that these devices could monitor students without their permission can lead one to believe that DOE devices are heavily tampered with and have their own minds, which can be a headache to people who serve as tech support in schools. 

The way that DOE devices are tampered with and given their own minds creates many issues for those trying to manage them, such as Mr. Navarro. Every time a computer or device decides to not work (for whatever reason), he finds out and then has to worry about fixing it. With the hundreds (if not thousands) of computers and devices that are in a school, it can quickly become an issue if many of them choose to not work, because it can be time consuming to identify any problems or issues a device has, figure out a way to fix them, and then get them fixed and returned to classrooms. Of course, this all depends on exactly what the issue is with the device, but bigger problems can take longer to get solved, creating a headache of work for people like Mr. Navarro. Occasionally, the DOE gets involved with tech support (such as with getting new computers and tablets to replace old ones), but wouldn’t it be better if we got every DOE device in working condition first? Anyway, many of the computer and device issues we all experience don’t necessarily require getting a new device. Even so, many people may feel the need to replace a device if it ends up broken, especially when using a faulty DOE device to do schoolwork at home. 

Even as most students receive in person learning this year, there are still times where they need to do coursework online, given the way that schools like to put assignments online for people’s “convenience.” Yet this “convenience” doesn’t exist whenever people have to rely on DOE-issued devices to get their schoolwork done, whether it’s remote learning or not. According to the New York Post, many school age children have been forced to use DOE-issued devices at one point or another because of remote learning during the pandemic. But using these devices takes away from the supposed “convenience” of online assignments for school. This is because these devices are as slow as the ones seen in classrooms, and they can also be faulty. Worse, people using these devices for situations like remote learning may not have extra devices seen in classrooms that are there in the event of technical difficulties. The DOE often claims that everyone who wants a DOE-issued device always receives one, but people’s experiences with the system suggest otherwise. Additionally, the DOE has no solid support system to assist those having trouble with devices and fixing them so students can complete schoolwork without having technical difficulties, which again demonstrates their incompetence. As a result, many students have fallen behind in school because of the inability to complete work on DOE computers that don’t even work due to the organization’s incompetence. 

Now bearing in mind all of these annoyances of the DOE in general and with their heavily tampered with devices, I will propose my own beliefs on this issue, which hopefully will not be heavily objected to. 

I have made observations with my experiences using DOE devices and can assure that a DOE-owned device, is, at most, a device that the DOE turned into a living thing with its own thoughts and feelings, and that this nature is the main reason for all the annoyances that come up with using such devices.

Therefore, I propose that all users of DOE devices, whenever they stop working or when they decide to be annoying, engage with the device in question and try to make it do what the user wants it to do. Specifically, I call for people who are dealing with slow or unresponsive DOE devices to bang on the device in question, shout at it, and do the same over and over again in the hopes that the device will respond to the user’s demands. For instance, if someone is using a DOE-issued device and it doesn’t turn on when the user wants it to, they should start banging on different parts of the device like the back or the keyboard and start shouting things like “Come on Chromebook! Wake up wake up wake up!!!” The hope here is that doing so will make the device wake up and respond, and the person will be able to use the device as normal.

The idea of treating a DOE-issued device like a sleepy/incompetent person makes sense here, since the organization has already tampered with the devices in such a way that they have their own minds. For instance, they are hesitant to show popular websites like YouTube, and they are also very disorganized because they carry so much software that the user will probably not touch. Additionally, the devices might track and spy on users at any time of their choosing, or in other words, whenever they feel like spying. Most importantly of all, they are slow because they are tired from being used all week by students and want to start the weekend early. Given these traits, it makes sense to believe that they have their own thoughts and feelings about themselves, which is the main reason why they don’t wake up at first when the user wants it to. 

Since DOE-owned devices have their own minds, thoughts, and feelings, and based on their behaviors that they exhibit, one can infer that using these devices in different ways will cause it to react differently depending on how the user approaches them. When keeping in mind the startup issues that plague DOE devices during and out of class, it makes the idea of banging on and shouting at them good because doing so will cause the device to react and go “I’m aware of that, I’m trying to get myself together.” After all, humans have thoughts and feelings, and whenever they might be asleep and woken up, they would react and try to listen to whoever is trying to get them to wake up. If DOE-issued devices have been tampered with to have their own minds, why wouldn’t they react any differently from similar situations with humans? After all, receiving the attention of someone causes one to be more aware of their surroundings.

Another reason to consider banging on DOE-issued devices when unresponsive is that it is very affordable and practical compared to doing other things like getting good internet, a good computer, or trying to resolve the matter with the DOE. Many people have found high speed internet and/or good, fast computers unaffordable for them due to their financial status, and whenever they try to contact the DOE to resolve the issues, very little happens because they don’t have a good support system to resolve technical issues with their devices and get them working again. Additionally, getting good internet and/or fixing devices takes a lot of time and work to install. On the other hand, banging and shouting at these devices is FREE. No need to try to contact an incompetent organization who doesn’t know how to deal with broken iPads and laptops, no need to buy overpriced internet service or computers, no need to figure out how to install internet service, just bang and shout at the DOE devices. This also allows people like Mr. Navarro to deal with other tech issues that may be occurring in the school, since he won’t need to deal with fixing faulty computers for hours on end—the students and teachers can take care of that by banging and shouting at them. And all of this cuts dependence on our very slow and incompetent DOE by implmenting DIY solutions, such as treating devices like sleepy people. 

Lastly, in the event the device actually broke from banging on it over and over again, people won’t need to panic. This is because there is no need to contact the DOE or do anything else. Whenever a DOE-issued device breaks due to banging on it, people should view that as punishment to the device for being unresponsive and unable to fulfill the tasks people want it to do. It’s a lot like humans and their actions, since people can get punished for doing something they weren’t supposed to do or for not following given instructions/directions. In this case, the DOE-issued device didn’t boot up when desired by the user, so if it broke after the user banged on it, it’s like punishment for the device. And there’s no need for someone like Mr. Navarro to fix it, because unless they learn to break out of their minds, fixing them leads to the same issues plaguing these devices BEFORE they broke—in other words, a device being broken is what DOE-issued devices should get for not being responsive and/or not loading something the user wanted, at least until they learn their lesson and not be problematic again.

Given all of these annoyances that we experience from using devices issued by the DOE, we should be taking action to deal with them so we don’t experience these issues in the future. In spite of my proposals and wishes for DOE-owned devices and for them to work and be responsive or risk punishment, a few things should be considered. First, iPads and laptops aren’t living things (duh), and consequently don’t have feelings, thoughts, or anything that humans might possess. Second, they won’t respond to any of our demands even if we treat them like sleepy humans by banging, shaking, or shouting at them, because again, they aren’t living things. Third, breaking a DOE-issued device could come with consequences from the school, the DOE, or both, and punishments could include having to buy a new device and/or pay to fix whatever damage one caused. And breaking a device could leave one with no way to do schoolwork, instead of being able to do schoolwork slowly on a slow device. 

Still, with our dependence on technology and DOE-issued devices in general, we shouldn’t ignore the problems with slow devices. Many of us currently use online materials in class which requires us to go online at home to access them, something that can’t be done without a device. The DOE tries to address this issue by providing devices to everyone that needs them, giving out iPads and laptops to people and schools to use for class. However, as we have all seen, the DOE doesn’t take good care of the devices and leaves them so that they are very slow and unresponsive to the user, causing annoyances in class and at home. Even though we can’t bang on the devices and hope they become responsive, there are probably other ways to fix the devices so they work for school and people don’t experience any issues. 


Sources used: