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Today’s homework gap means long-term challenges for African American students

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Bowling Green, KY (February 22, 2021) - We at Connected Nation know how transformative broadband can be for Americans – we see it every day as we explore the business, educational, and economic benefits that broadband brings to our homes.

Seeing this amazing potential makes it all the more difficult to grapple with the realization that some Americans are less likely to benefit from home broadband service. This gap highlights the need for change in order to benefit not only this generation, but generations to come.

The COVID-19 pandemic put online education into a spotlight. The inability of some students to use the internet when needed puts them at a distinct disadvantage compared to their peers.

Numerous studies have shown that African American students are less likely to have home broadband service (or to be more likely to have inferior internet access).

According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, African American school-age children are significantly less likely to have access to broadband at home than their peers of other races and ethnicities. In fact, more than three out of ten Black families with children do not subscribe to high-speed internet service. Similarly, households headed up by African Americans are more likely to only subscribe to mobile internet service, making it even more difficult to go online to do research or write a report.

These sorts of discrepancies can have long-reaching impacts. Students who are disadvantaged in school will be less likely to have the same opportunities as other students to go on to college or further their educations. This means for approximately 3.3 million African American children across the country, the deck will be stacked against them due to a lack of home broadband service. And while the cost of remedying this situation might be high – some estimates put the cost of closing the homework gap for minority students at $6.8 billion– the long-term cost of letting the situation fester is exponentially higher for the country and for those students. 

America needs to give every student a chance to learn and thrive. The fact that so many African American students face the additional hurdle of lacking home broadband service means that we as a nation need to strengthen our resolve to ensure that we do our utmost to create an equitable digital environment. And that means closing the homework gaps for African American students as soon as possible.


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About the Author: Chris McGovern is the Connected Nation Director of Research Development. He works with Connected Nation staff and external stakeholders to develop research deliverables and provide critical analysis. He uses qualitative and quantitative techniques to interpret data, formulate reports, and make substantiated recommendations based on research findings.