Catholic Spirit admonishes US for lack of ubiquitous broadband

The Catholic Spirit reports…

Network disruptions, while not as many as feared across the United States, were still fairly common. Children whose parents had no access to Wi-Fi, or broadband — or even a computer — were in the virtual dark, left to pretty much fend for themselves for the rest of the school year.

During school systems’ summer vacation, more districts were planning to reopen on a hybrid model, with students alternating days between in-person and online learning. Then the positive COVID-19 test results started to spike, and the number of deaths started to climb again, especially in the southern part of the country.

Meanwhile, personal computers — laptops, tablets and the like — were selling like hotcakes, leading to shortages. Some schools cut deals with Google to furnish Chromebooks for their students — who, of course, would use Google Classroom, Google Hangouts, Gmail and more.

They highlight some issues in Minnesota…

Comcast has extended its “Internet Essentials” offer to low-income households, although complaints have arisen about uneven access and other problems. One Minnesota mother tried it before the pandemic, and said the data limit and frequent, time-consuming updates made it “the biggest headache on earth” and not worth the $9.95 monthly fee.

Roughly 25,000 Minnesota students didn’t have computers or internet at home by late spring, about 3% of the state’s K-12 students, the Minnesota Department of Education estimated, with little progress in addressing the problem over the summer.

They quote Jabari Simama…

In his book “Civil Rights to Cyber Rights,” Simama wrote that the United States had “a moral obligation to see that broadband becomes universally accessible and beneficial to the public.” The urgency of the pandemic, he argued, may actually be “an opportunity to finally make significant progress on these digital issues.”

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, education and tagged by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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