Millions of children nationwide will begin the new school year learning from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The switch to remote learning for U.S. schools has exposed a troubling digital divide between children from low-income families, mostly Black and Latinx students, and their peers from wealthier zip codes.
Education experts fear that the lack of high-speed internet connections and electronic devices needed to access remote instruction will lead to the widening of the achievement gap that has perplexed school districts for decades.
The Boston Consulting Group, a global management consulting firm in partnership with Common Sense, a nonprofit organization that focuses on how media and technology impact children, released a report recently titled “Closing the K-12 Digital Divide in the Age of Distance Learning” that closely examines the nation’s digital divide.
Here’s what they found:
50 million – number of K-12 students who will have to learn remotely this school year
15 million to 16 million – number of students who lack adequate internet or devices to effective learn remotely.
9 million – number of students who lack both adequate internet and devices
This is where students live who lack adequate internet connection to receive remote instruction:
21% – of students in urban communities
25% – of students in suburban communities
37% – of students in rural communities
How this lack breaks down by race and ethnicity:
18% – of white students who lack an adequate internet connection to learn remotely
26% – of Latinx students
30% – of Black students
35% – of Native American students
300,000 to 400,000 – estimated number of public school teachers who lack access to an adequate internet connection
100,000 – estimated number of teachers who lack electronic devices for remote instruction.
Here’s how North Carolina’s 1.5 million students stack up:
468,967 – number of students without an adequate internet connection for remote learning, or 30%
355,304 – number of students without adequate devices for remote learning, or 23%
And among the state’s nearly 100,000 educators:
9,818 – number of teachers without a high–speed internet connection, or 10%
3,051 – number of teachers without an adequate device for remote learning, or 3%