Some day in the not-too-distant future, every student in Imperial County will, with the flip of a switch, be able to connect to the Internet, leveling the academic playing field and sealing shut the homework gap.
BorderLink is the Imperial County Office of Education's (ICOE) newest initiative to bring wireless Internet connectivity to K-12 students in several local communities as well as to students at Imperial Valley College.
The homework gap has been called the "cruelest part of the digital divide," affecting school children in 5 million homes nationwide without Internet access. Low-income students suffer most from that disparity. Merriam-Webster defines the digital divide as the economic, educational and social inequalities between those who have computers and online access and those who do not:
Dr. Todd Finnell, Imperial County Superintendent of Schools, and his team at ICOE have found that as teachers increasingly respond to the opportunities for learning that can be found through the Internet, many students are at an immediate disadvantage.
"Many of us take (Internet access) for granted," said Finnell. "Unfortunately, there are still many of our students and families that don't have Internet access at home. Changing this circumstance will be transformative for them and our communities".
Nationally, about 7 in 10 teachers assign homework that requires Internet access, yet 31 percent or households with incomes below $50,000 with children ages 6 to 17 do not have high-speed Internet connectivity at home. According to the
K-12 High Speed Network. The network, which connects more than 10,000 schools throughout California, was designed and has been managed by the Imperial County Office of Education since 2004.
To close the connectivity gap, ICOE has teamed with local school districts bringing wireless Internet connectivity to students in several local communities. BorderLink relies on the same wireless technology that commercial carriers use, known as Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, or 4G service.
Published in Alive! Magazine