In Hartford’s North End, students without broadband access at home used McDonald’s wi-fi to do their homework — until the restaurant reportedly instituted time limits on how long you can sit there. Students also line up to use the computers at the public library on Albany Avenue — but the library closes at 6 p.m. or earlier. Other students resort to sitting on porches or in cars in all kinds of weather trying to use the wi-fi from adjoining buildings.
These stories are in a report prepared for the Office of State Broadband by Strategic Outreach Services, “Assessment of the Broadband ‘Homework Gap’ In Hartford.” With Janice Flemming-Butler of Strategic Outreach Services, I talked with parents and school and community leaders from North Hartford about the challenges school-age children face with using the internet. The top complaint was the lack of affordable broadband internet access at home, which is necessary to complete online assignments, collaborate on projects and communicate with teachers. The students’ struggle to get and afford internet access in the North End and other urban (and rural) areas, unlike access typically enjoyed in suburbs, is called the “homework gap.”
Although the North End is in the center of our region, the report says, it has been neglected by broadband development. While their suburban peers complete homework and download college applications in an instant using wi-fi, many North End students make do without home internet or deal with low-speed internet options — in some cases, little more than the dial-up speeds from two decades ago.
The North End is not unique, the homework gap exists in other Connecticut cities and towns and across the nation. According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 5 million U.S. households with school-age children do not have broadband internet access at home. Low-income households account for a disproportionate share. Click here for full article
Katz, E. S. (2017, July 14). Internet Gap Puts Hartford’s North End Students Behind. Retrieved September 12, 2017, from http://www.courant.com/opinion/op-ed/hc-op-katz-hartford-north-end-internet-gap-0716-20170713-story.html