If Assemblyman and 10th Congressional District candidate Hakeem Jeffries had his way every city public school student would have at least one laptop computer in his or her home within the next five years.
Thus, Jeffries rolled out a new “One Child, One Laptop” initiative in delivering his fifth State of the District address given before a packed auditorium at Pratt Institute last week.
“W.E.B. Du Bois, the noted scholar, once observed that the racial divide would likely be the most vexing challenge of the 20th century. I think it’s fair to say that the digital divide may emerge as one of the most vexing challenges of the 21st century,” said Jeffries. “We need to adequately prepare our children and our students for the modern economy and the technology-driven world.”
While Jeffries didn’t explain exactly how the initiative would work in his speech, his spokesperson Lupe Todd said it would involve public and private partnerships.
“He’s still in the planning stages. Whenever he has new initiatives he goes and proposes it to the community. It’s in the skeletal process,” said Todd.
Besides the “One Child, One Laptop” initiative, Jeffries said his legislative focus will be on getting more affordable housing through the creation of a $500 million fund for affordable housing in next year’s state budget by using proceeds from the mortgage recording tax. Currently, proceeds from this tax are used in part to provide mass transportation funding.
Jeffries also pointed out recent victories he has championed including the reauthorization of the millionaires’ tax, strengthening of rent regulations to protect working families and the end of prison-based gerrymandering so that prisoners are counted in their home communities rather than in the districts where they are incarcerated for purposes of drawing district lines.
Prior to his speech, the audience was treated to a performance by a choir of students from Ronald Edmonds Learning Center, J.H.S. 113 as they serenaded the house with several musical selections including the South African National Anthem.
Over 200 residents and community leaders attended the speech, which also showcased some political muscle in Jeffries run for Congress.
The night’s events were hosted by the mistress of ceremonies’ Yvonne Graham who is the current associate commissioner of the New York State Department of Health and the former Brooklyn Deputy Borough President.
Others in attendance were City Council members Letitia James and Al Vann, and Democratic District Leaders Walter Mosley and Lincoln Restler.