Providing free wireless hotspots helps this district close the equity gap

By Robert Dillon
August 4th, 2015

A new program is helping students connect to devices and internet after the last bell

wifi-equityThe achievement gap. The literacy gap. The nutrition Gap. The preschool gap. It seems like our education system talks and talks about the inequities that exist between students and schools that are well-funded, well-supported, and well-granted, and those that struggle to keep the lights on, pay their staff, and run the HVAC.

There’s another gap, a growing one, perhaps with less media buzz, that has made its way to the doors of our schools. It’s one we can no longer ignore. This is the chasm between the homes with and those without access to quality broadband.

It’s a complex and layered issue. In rural schools, the availability of internet access beyond school and home can be difficult to obtain, while students in urban areas often can poach access from libraries, open networks in the community, or nearby fast food restaurants. In both rural and urban settings, many students are obtaining their wi-fi signals using smartphones as hotspots at a rate that isn’t sustainable for their cellular plans. Others have a home network that is plagued with speed and consistency issues. In all of these situations, learning, especially at the pace and rate necessary for today’s student to succeed, is inhibited.

Next page: An innovative hotspot program