(May 21, 2019) – We are living in the information age, a time where technology is rapidly growing and integrating itself into every aspect of our lives. But what happens when you don’t have access? You are left struggling to keep up. This Digital Divide has become a big issue in our public schools system.
So how did this come about? The organization Getting Smart recently published the following which details how we began to identify this issue in education:
The first National Education Technology Plan, published in 1996, brought the existence of a Digital Divide in education to light. It served as a call-to-action for schools and policymakers to address the inequities created by lack of access to computers and the Internet. It also corresponded with the establishment of the E-Rate program as part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.
Since that time, schools and districts across the country have taken advantage of E-rate funding to wire their buildings and connect their students. Although the majority of districts now report that they have reached the minimum bandwidth requirements within their buildings, fewer than 10% of administrators feel as though ALL of their students have access once they leave school.
This brings up the newest problem for students, The Homework Gap, a coined term from Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. Without access to devices and high-speed Internet, students lack the technological capacity to access online resources and content, create and connect with their peers, as well as engage in learning opportunities outside of school.
However, despite these initial gains, the broader challenge of ensuring digital equity remains a challenge. Therefore, Senator Patty Murray from Washington has proposed a new Digital Equity Act.
Here at Connected Nation we believe everyone should have access to high-speed internet, including students. To help make this happen Senator Murray’s bill authorizes over one billion dollars in federal grant funding over the next five years to support digital inclusion programs. The bill, endorsed by 15 Senators, creates two separate grant programs to promote digital equity.
Each would be operated by the U.S. Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and support a range of opportunities to improve access to technology as well as the acquisition of digital literacy.
This bill provides federal funding to increase digital equity such that all citizens have access to education, democracy, the economy, and society in a networked, global world.
Everyone belongs in a Connected Nation.
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