11/11-Social Distancing and School Closures: Documenting Disparity in Internet Access among School Children- Julia Duchossois

In Social Distancing and School Closures: Documenting Disparity in Internet Access among School Children, Sen and Tucker argue that the digital divide could be making educational inequalities between rich and poor children even more drastic in the face of online learning due to school closures.

The purpose of the paper is to present pattern about internet access among school aged kids, which can ultimately be used to form policy surrounding the issue, by reviewing a variety of existing data on the topic. The first source of data used was the American Community Service which could identify school aged children, their demographic information and their household information (which included information about internet access). The researchers also collected data about whether students received SNAP benefits (aka food stamps). The researchers then got data about students performance on math, and matched this data to the school district data. The results of the study show that kids in demographic groups who are already lagging in test scores are also less likely to have internet access. Additionally, children who are low income, English learners, lacking stable housing, African American or of Hispanic decent lag behind their peers in access to the internet.

The results of this paper are concerning, and are clear call for policy changes that can attempt to level the playing field between kids of different demographics and household situations. One thing I am concerned about is the return to the normal classroom for kids who may have been behind already, then fell even further behind due to the digital divide during the COVID school closures. What extra resources can we provide these students?

4 thoughts on “11/11-Social Distancing and School Closures: Documenting Disparity in Internet Access among School Children- Julia Duchossois

  1. My sister was a freshman in high school during the pandemic, so I was able to hear about how she and her classmates were learning. For her, it wasn’t a big deal because we had a computer and internet access, but she did say that one of her friends had to do her school work from her phone because her internet speed wasn’t fast enough to use Microsoft Teams, which I can only imagine would be much more difficult.

  2. Although I read a different article this week, all of the points you make, and the article makes, sounds like they make complete sense. This is stuff I have thought about before – the pandemic causing education to be remote must have added additional stressors for students who do not have access to the internet or a computer. I am interested to see more quantitative studies about this and think about ways we can combat this. Perhaps if there was a federally funded initiative to equalize the playing-field in terms of technology access.

  3. Julia this is a really concerning issue and I think it’s also important to look at the larger issue of the digital divide as a whole. I completely agree that there needs to be some sort of policy change or regulation within schools to ensure all students have equal opportunity, but there also needs to be more internet availability nationwide across states too. The larger issue at hand will take a lot more time and resources to combat, however, I believe it is the duty of each individual school to ensure equal opportunity for the students within their institution.

  4. The digital divide is truly exasperating problems people have already been suffering from for years. Education is a clear example of this. However, these findings are still very alarming. This country needs to improve in meeting the needs of its citizens– especially when our lifestyles have changed so drastically since before the large prevalence of technology opportunities. I hope we’ll see policy and better accessibility that reflects this change soon.

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