Not every family or student has access to the internet at home.
Are students and parents at a disadvantage due to communication barriers?
Let’s take a look: In 2015, the Pew Research Center analyzed data from studies on internet access and found that the problem is mainly in low-income families. Among households with an annual income under $50,000, 31.4% don’t have broadband internet access. For households with an annual income of over $50,000, the number is much smaller—only 8.4% lack access to broadband internet. In addition to lower-income families, it has been found that minority students are also at an internet ‘disadvantage’.
What Can Be Done About This Issue?
Some districts provide Wi-Fi on school buses to help with this problem. School districts offer online student registration from their cell phones, which makes accessing school forms easier for parents. But what about being able to obtain all of the pertinent information on the school’s websites? Some districts have:
- Began encouraging families to research internet providers as some may offer discounts for lower-income families.
- Working with local libraries to offer free hotspots – some have asked internet providers to offer discounts to their district
- Instructing districts to look into old and stored away devices that may need only small updates – this can add devices for lower-income families
There needs to be more focus on how to get these lower privileged students to be on par with other students. In order to get more focus, the issue needs to be spread throughout your district. It has to start somewhere.