The power of broadband cannot be overemphasized and no population has more to gain than students and families in underprivileged communities. We must focus on solutions that will enhance opportunities to continue learning even after the school bell rings.
Corporate partners, community partners, and cable and telecommunications industry leaders play a vital role in helping connect low income students and their families to broadband at home.
Programs like Connect To Complete (C2C) and Internet Essential provide eligible families the opportunity to purchase low-cost computers and discounted high speed internet. Above all, it provides students with the opportunity to continue learning even after the school bell rings.
In a schools like Oak Ridge High School where 93 percent of students qualify for free or reduced school lunch, many students and their families cannot afford to have broadband internet at home.
The lack of access can “potentially creates a situation where students with access to broadband at home will have an even greater advantage over those students who can only access these digital resources at school.”
FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel stated during a recent Hispanic Heritage Foundation Forum that “the homework gap is the cruelest part of the digital divide…School age kids without broadband will enter the market with a huge handicap.”
A study by Pew Research Center revealed a stark difference in the role of technology in wealthier school district compared with poorer school districts. Teachers of the lowest-income students were less likely to say their students had “sufficient access to the digital tools they need both in school and at home.”
Adoption programs like Connect To Compete and Internet Essentials have the potential to enhance learning opportunities for students of low income families. This would provide students the opporutnity to continue learning even after the school bell rings.
No child or their family should miss out on accessing these opportunities because of geographic, socioeconomic background, or otherwise. These are all issues we must continue to promote and resolve.