Twelve million kids lack access to broadband as classrooms to go virtual

About 12 million school kids remain without broadband Internet at home as school classrooms go virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students in the Homework Gap -- those without high-speed Internet at home to distance learn or complete homework -- are gathering in parking lots outside schools, public libraries, and fast food restaurants in hopes of getting a wifi connection. 

According to a study by the Alliance for Excellent Education, about 20 percent of households in Washington, DC lack high-speed Internet access. This inequality affects students of color at a higher rate. Nationally, a third of Black, Latino, and Native American students do not have high-speed Internet access shutting them out of the virtual classrooms this year. 

Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler puts the cost of a nationwide broadband deployment at $80 billion. “Where that money comes from is a matter for Congress to determine,” Wheeler wrote. In July, the US House passed the Moving Forward Act which provided $80 billion for broadband deployment and also included strong labor protection language. 

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When ‘back to school’ means a parking lot and the hunt for a WiFi signal (Washington Post, Aug. 27, 2020)