A new report from New America, Pandemic Planning for Distance Learning, laments the failure of school districts across the country to serve all students, especially those with disabilities and English learners. According to the authors, school closures have greatly disadvantaged families without access to broadband internet, i.e., fast enough to stream and download educational materials.
“Families who remained employed and financially secure,” they write, “were vastly more prepared to slip into remote mode and support students.”
As districts prepare for reopening over the summer and, more commonly, the fall, these inequities will persist, allowing children without broadband to fall further behind. Here are some resources to help early childhood educators to understand and confront the digital divide—and to advance the cause of inclusion.
Baltimore’s Digital Divide. This report by the Abell Foundation exposes gaps in internet connectivity and the explores the impact on low-income residents.
ConnectHomeUSA. Led by EveryoneOn, this movement aims to bridge the digital divide for public housing residents in the United States.
Keeping Americans Connected. Federal Communications Commissioner Chairman Ajit Pai asked broadband providers to pledge not to terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills; to waive late fees; and to open Wi-Fi hotspots through June 30.
Early Learning Nation columnist Mark Swartz writes for and about nonprofit organizations. Author of the children's books Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe, Lost Flamingo, Magpie Bridge and The Giant of the Flood as well as a few novels, he lives in Takoma Park, MD, with his wife and two children.