RS1: Connecticut

Census shows digital divide among Norwalk’s poor, minorities

The digital divide has hit those living in Norwalk, CT below the poverty line and in black communities harder than others, which is sadly putting them at more of a disadvantage. Based on the 2016 American Community Survey, reported in a The Hour article by R.A. Schuetz, an “estimated 37 percent of people in Norwalk whose income is below $20,000 do not have internet, as well as 7 percent of people who reported their race as black only”(para. 6). This lack of basic resources causes them to live a life exiled from modern society occurring online.

This missing internet connection majorly effects the children in Norwalk Public Schools (NPS). In fact, some elementary students have to use up precious class time to complete their online homework assignments. To make matters worse, the Norwalk Public School system has online programs which offer personalized lessons to help students behind in school continue the school day beyond the walls of a classroom; however, if those students don’t have internet access at home, it can cause them to fall even farther behind.

Due to the lack of internet access at home, the public library has taken on the burden of providing it. The library has become a haven with Wi-Fi for those with laptops and not internet, public computers with built in learning software, and hotspots to loan out to patrons. In the article by The Hour, Sherelle Harris, the assistant director of the Norwalk Public Library System, has seen the divide first hand, “I can see where the gaps occur between those who have access to tech and those who don’t” (para. 21).

Due to this issue becoming more apparent in everyday life, the NPS board is meeting soon to decide whether to create an “advisory group on technology to analyze the resulting data and come up with a plan for how to address issues with access” (). One possible solution on the table is to send kids home with portable hot-spots, similar to those at the libraries, so that they can have internet at home. NPS Chief Academic Officer, Michael Conner, sums it up as, “We have to be able to bridge and close the opportunity gap, and being able to access technology at home is part of that” (para. 27).

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