Right now, the questions surrounding coronavirus are seemingly greater than the answers.
Despite constantly being inundated with new information, it’s unclear not only how this pandemic will affect us in the short-term, but what the long-term implications will be. One of the biggest risks posed by COVID-19 is to our schoolchildren, who now face a potential widening of the already yawning educational achievement gap.
Although it may seem that we are in an era of nonstop technological advancement, there are still 12 million American students without readily available high speed internet access in their homes. In Louisiana, the chasm is primed to only get worse — one-third of households do not have internet access. As schools continue to adapt to distance learning models, this presents a huge barrier for children to effectively participate in their education.
As Eric Peterson of the Pelican Institute for Public Policy recently mentioned, Louisiana’s children must receive the tools they need to continue their education during the reign of COVID-19. But, while the federal government is working on increasing funding to support families with easier access to broadband internet, most students will still face tremendous setbacks.
That is why we must strive to do more. In order to help reduce these gaps while waiting for legislative action, we must lean heavily on our local leaders and educational organizations for solutions. One of the best examples of a positive step forward includes the recent decision of the Orleans Parish School Board to authorize $5 million in emergency spending, including $3 million on distance learning equipment and hot spots, $1 million for necessary sanitation in all public schools, and $1 million to support food distribution. Because of this decision, NOLA Public Schools recently purchased 5,000 hot spots for its most vulnerable students, giving them the immediate ability to participate equally in distance learning.
The problems we’re facing in our state plainly highlight the disparity that already existed among our students. As we continue to address the hurdle of distance learning, one thing is absolutely clear: We cannot even discuss implementing distance learning until all Louisiana children have access to the internet.
We must act with all due speed to ensure Louisiana’s schoolchildren receive the quality, equitable education they deserve, even in the midst of a global pandemic. We cannot let our children down.
acting director, Democrats for Education Reform Louisiana
- The Year the Internet Thought I Was MacKenzie Bezos – WIRED
- Easy ways to get the fastest internet connection possible in your home – Komando
- Elon Musk says Starlink internet private beta to begin in roughly three months, public beta in six – TechCrunch
- Verizon is canceling home internet installations during the pandemic – The Verge
- Ethiopia’s internet shutdowns are disrupting millions of lives – Quartz Africa
- How to check if your service provider is throttling your internet – CNET
- 8 charts on internet use around the world as countries grapple with COVID-19 – Pew Research Center
- How to boost your home internet speeds while you’re stuck at home: Tech Support – Yahoo Money
- Welcome (Back) to the Appointment Internet – New York Magazine