A Wider Divide


Locked out of the virtual classroom by New York Times Editorial Board
The New York Times, March 27, 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic forces a re-examination of online and distance learning, lack of access has emerged as a glaring issue. In a recent op-ed, The New York Times editorial board examined the widening digital divide, spotlighting the problem's new urgency as the country pivots to remote schooling. While 12 million children already lacked home internet access before the pandemic, "the daunting challenge of trying to get distance learning up and running comes as school districts are already struggling to feed students who rely on school breakfasts and lunches to stave off hunger." The column notes instances of schools responding quickly and creatively to these issues. KIPP Charter Network, for example, used its buses to deliver food and drop off curriculum packets. Overwhelmingly, however, the article exposes the inequity of access as many districts are unable to provide laptops or tablets and internet hotspots. The article suggests that closing the digital divide "will require a momentous effort on the scale of the federal project that brought electricity to darkened regions of the country during the New Deal." The further down the tunnel we get in this pandemic, the more momentous this effort might have to be.

Submitted By: Perry Eaton, Ed.M Candidate, Klingenstein Center, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY

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