RS 1: NOLA

Bridging a Digital Divide That Leaves Schoolchildren Behind

In a New York Times article written by Cecilia Kang, she analyzes the density of the digital divide in New Orleans, Louisiana. In Kang’s article, she points out several of the many students in the McAllen school district that do not have access to the Internet. Kang makes a remark about how siblings Tony and Isabella Ruiz never fail to be caught in their nightly homework spot on “a crumbling sidewalk” nearby an elementary school in which is closest to their house in New Orleans (1). The Ruiz family does not have Internet service in their home, and they have chosen this sidewalk as their location zone because they are able to connect to the elementary school’s Internet hotspot. Kang quotes their mother, Maria Ruiz, who expresses her escalating concerns, “it worries me because it will become more important to have Internet when they have to do more homework” (2). As her children grow older, technology is going to become more prevalent in the world- especially within schools and universities. Kang elaborates on the fact that many teachers and professors continue to assign students’ assignments that require resources that are intended to be accessed on the Internet. She also notes that the federal government is struggling with how to manage the evident imbalance between families who have untroubled access to Internet at home and the “estimated five million families who are without it” while still fighting to be successful (2). Kang explains that Jessica Rosenworcel, a member of the Federal Communications Commission referenced that research has proven that “seven in ten teachers assign homework that requires web access” (3). But, in the United States, up to a third of kindergarten through senior year students, who come from either a rural home base or are lacking income, are physically incapable of retrieving Internet from their homes. As this issue became noticed, President Obama’s administration created a program to install reasonably priced broadband into public and general housing (3). According to Kang, a way in which the McAllen School District, consisting of 33 schools and 25,000 students, has tried to eliminate part of the digital divide issue is by running wireless hotspots in school buildings and in their public bus systems throughout the night (4). This is so that students without home Internet access are able to sit in school parking lots with their digital devices in order to complete Internet required assignments during after school hours.

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