RS 1: Houston

Bridging a digital divide that keeps schoolchildren behind

Cecilia Kang Wrote the news article “Bridging a digital divide that keeps schoolchildren behind.” She begins by telling the story of how the Ruiz kids accomplish getting their online homework done without Internet access at home. They sit on the side of the street near school to connect to the school’s wireless hot spot. They sit for hours while they wait for their homework to slowly download. Their mother Maria states that she knows that it is important to have Internet to complete homework, they just do not have the funds. This does not only effect the Ruiz family, but also the other estimated four million families that do not have high speed internet in their homes. These families depend on buses, libraries, and fast food restaurants for free hot spot access. Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic member of the Communications Commission, calls this the homework gap and says it is the cruelest part of the digital divide. She has research stating that “seven in ten teachers now assign homework that requires web access, yet one-third of kindergartners through 12th graders in the United States are unable to go online from home.” The lifelong plan was to be put in place by the Communications Commission. This included subsidies for broadband services in low-income homes. The Obama administration also put free and affordable broadband into public housing. “Broadband is like the air we breathe,” said the executive a nonprofit called Common Sense Media. He says that the internet is essential to both school and jobs, so it is important to make this available to people who cannot afford it. Kang also cites a story about a family that lives off a one-lane road in town. They are not able to have broadband access because the provider cannot bring service to their street. The daughter relies on the long bus route to and from school to get good grades. She spends around three hours a day riding the bus around her town. The free internet access on the bus is her only option to get her school work done. The superintendent of the school district in McAllen, Texas says schools and teachers do not have much of a choice but to require technology for class work. They try to have technology in the classroom so students can be prepared for the real world that is full of technology. She said they are expanding the area of their broadband access 24 hours a day, so students can stay around school and get their work done. The city of Pharr is proposing using local taxes to provide service to all homes and spots around town. Both national and local governments are trying to bridge the homework divide that is keeping children behind.

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