Students hurt by the digital divide

Millions of students in the U.S. don’t have access to high speed Internet services at home and it’s hurting their chances for academic success, but fixing the problem is not going to be easy or cheap

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What disadvantage does the lack of broadband access mean to those kids? A 2008 study by the U.S. Federal Reserve found that teenagers with computers at home were 6 to 8 percent more likely to graduate from high school. While the Federal Reserve study was based on just having computers at home, it seems safe to assume that having computers with high speed Internet access has an even stronger effect on educational outcomes. So, there’s no doubt that lack of Internet access at home is negatively affecting millions of children in the U.S.

There is no easy solution on the horizon, either. According to the WSJ, the FCC estimates that making broadband access available to everyone in the U.S. would cost $45 billion and take 10 years, and that’s just to build out the infrastructure. Then there’s the question of who should do the building out. Wireless carriers? Cable companies? Satellite service providers?

Even if the infrastructure to support broadband in every nook and cranny of this country existed, there would still be the issue of who should help foot the monthly access charges for lower income families. Should the government subsidize it? Should schools help to provide home or mobile access to all students?

All in all, lack of high speed Internet access at home is a real and complicated problem in this country. What do you think the solution is? Should providers be required to build high speed access to corner of this country? Should all students have access to free or reduced cost broadband at home? Who should foot the considerable bills to make this all happen? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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