Emma Lord
March 17, 2015 2:30 pm

A lot of us are so used to having the Internet at the literal tips of our fingers that we take for granted that there ever was a time we didn’t have 24-hour access to it. Even a few years ago we did not live in a world where I could Google pictures of Andrew Garfield’s face from a train platform. Still, as many strides as we’ve made with making the Internet accessible — particularly in educational facilities — all Internet is not created equal. Although 99% of American schools have access to wi-fi, a lot of schools still have inadequate internet activity, and it is much more harmful to their education than you might have guessed.

I know it may seem strange at first to get up in arms about how fast a school’s Internet speed is, but when you think about it, lacking access to the Internet puts kids at a huge disadvantage from peers who can pull up information and work faster and more efficiently. Most schools are powered by Internet connections with the approximate power of a family residence, which is fine for a family, but barely manageable for 200 students. As a result students are either navigating through educational portals with erratic speed, or are forced to sit on a sidelines and wait their turn, wasting valuable learning time.

President Obama launched the ConnectED initiative in 2013, with the goal to grant schools across the nation with the same fast broadband speed Internet. While a lot of strides have been made, they are far from out of the woods, and what is more alarming is the disparity of Internet speed among socioeconomic classes. Right now their data shows that they have managed to equip 37% of schools with adequate access in the 2013-14 school year. But closer examination of the data reveals that 39% of students from affluent families have Internet that meets superior standards, compared to a mere 27% of moderate income families and a shockingly low 14% for low income.

A 2012 study shows the association between internet usage and salary, implying that Internet incompetency sets kids up not only to learn at a disadvantaged rate, but also to land jobs with lower wages in adulthood. According to the ConnectED initiative, they plan to achieve their mission in completion by the end of 2021. But when you consider just how many kids will have come and gone through the educational system by then, is that nearly fast enough?

(Image from here.)

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