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No Access to Technology Impairs Student Success

Photo by Diego Chavez-Cadena | City College student uses cellphone to check her email online.

Many college students struggle with a reliable connection. They lack basic computers at home in this new world where most homework is submitted online. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) serve a fundamental public right to the public. If they willfully or knowingly misrepresent the speeds of access to broadband it provides, then they should be held accountable.

Two dozen Democratic senators are currently using the coronavirus to ease Federal Communications Commission deregulation of access to broadband at home in the Restoring Internet Freedom (RIF) order.

Many students are currently limited through the use of handheld devices because they cannot afford a computer at home—low speeds with limited access stunts upward-mobility for impoverished students of color.

Automation is supposed to be color-blind, but the numbers tell a different story. According to the Urban Institute, People of Color (POC) possess less than 10 percent of the wealth of their white counterparts. The economy is evolving quickly, and there is an even greater awareness among workforce analysts and families that today’s curriculum needs to grow to meet tomorrow’s reality.

The broadband gap affects school-age children too. The Pew Research Center found one-third of households with children ages 6 to 17 do not have a high-speed internet connection at home, compared with just 6 percent of such households earning $75,000 or more a year.

Upon arrival to high school, students who lack exposure to computers early are drastically far behind their white and Asian peers who have broadband adoptability at higher rates than POC.

Students need to develop the skills to solve severe problems facing their communities, collaborate effectively, and express ideas in the new labor market starting now.

The deployment of 5G networks is redefining access to information with the Internet of many things. Artificial intelligence will have robots talking, walking, and even working for some. The grid to administer this profit-driven inequity favors only the wealthy and not students.

While the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, the information gap persists with an information inequity that is fundamental to catching up. Just like utility agencies, ISPs must report the actual speed of broadband it provides to citizens.

We must discuss the impact on a society transformed thanks to technology in automation and stop debating why robots and immigrants are taking people’s jobs.

To reach an equal level of integration in the new formation of the US, the most marginalized citizen requires substantial access to a computer with broadband at home in order to nurture the future doctors, JDs, MBAs, key vocational industry professionals, among other roles in power. We must tame the reluctance of information conglomerates in an era of technological advancement.

We must ask which purpose do we want technology to fulfill since we tend to forget that technology and money are the means to equality and not the purpose of justice.

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