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Dear Ohio Senators: How One Third-Grade Class Sees the Digital Divide

For Video 6 300x276Columbus, OH. (July 12, 2018) – Ten to 15 years ago, having internet at school wasn’t a necessity. But now it’s an important learning tool for students to keep up in the classroom. In the spring of 2018, Knox Elementary School principal Stephen Fowler took it upon himself to bring awareness to this issue, and he did so the best way he knew how – by informing the people who are affected the most: his students.

Trying to get broadband internet service in rural areas like Columbiana County and Knox Township, Ohio, is not easy. Principal Fowler explained to the students-that even though the schools are covered, that’s not always the case for their classmates when they are at home. So one class of third-graders took matters into their own hands by writing letters to Ohio state senators, explaining why access to broadband is so important to all children.

More than 32 letters were sent to the senators asking for support to bring broadband services to their rural community. Stu Johnson, Executive Director of Connect Ohio and Vice President of Digital Works, stated, “Homework is now required online, and for these students to keep up, they must have access at home.” Without access, students cannot complete their homework on sites like Study Island, Google Docs, Connected Ed, and Typing Club.

Not only does having broadband at home benefit the students, but it also keeps parents informed. Most grades and progress reports are kept online for parents to see. This enables them to know how their child is doing in school and what they need to do as a parent to help them in problem areas.

Having internet access at home also helps students gain online knowledge that can benefit them in future schooling. A recent study at the University of Central Florida on Internet Spending and Graduation Rates concluded that if a student has access to broadband in the home, they have an 8% higher chance of graduating high school. But this is not a reality for all students at Knox Elementary.

“Without internet service we cannot get an education” one student wrote “Not all people have internet at home, so will you stand up and help them?”

The students are taking the correct first steps by speaking out. But this problem is bigger than just Knox Elementary.

“It is heart wrenching. We need to understand there are hundreds of classes just like this,” said Johnson. “Many other rural communities do not have broadband access just like Knox Township. We need to take action and support the expansion for broadband just like these brave kids did.”

As another student wrote “Believe me, if you give everyone internet, they will be so happy.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Violette, G. (2017). A Study of Internet Spending and Graduation Rates: A Correlational Study. Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 5529. Retrieved from: