For most students, it is a difficult transition to go from in-person classes to online learning. Kids have to wake up every day and sit down at their computers to get their education.
Online education is different than having a hands on, in-person learning experience. It is hard to accommodate every lesson online, but at least children are still getting some sort of education. Education is a right every child in America should have. Everyone should be given an equal opportunity to learn.
There is already an education gap between students who come from poor families versus wealthy families. Some families are able to provide more educational opportunities if they have the means to pay for it.
On March 30, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced that all school instruction would be held online for the rest of the school year. Now, with the switch to online learning, a new problem has arisen.
Students are expected to have access to a computer and internet to complete their assignments. Computers are not cheap and the internet is not free. Having access to technology is essential these days, but it is still a privilege.
It may seem like every kid these days has a smart phone and access to all of the newest technology. Online learning is an easier transition for students that have the privilege of having access to a computer and reliable internet. The transition for students who are underprivileged is a lot harder because they do not have the same resources. There are families who may not own a computer. They are not going to be getting an equal education as another child with access to technology.
Some might have one computer, but have to share it within the household. When I was a kid, we had one computer that all 3 of my siblings and my parents shared. So if we had assignments we had to do that involved the computer, we all took turns. With school being 100% online and families having multiple kids in school, this makes it hard on them because they do not have an equal opportunity to complete schoolwork.
The children who are at the biggest disadvantage are the ones whose families do not have computers or internet at all. With school libraries and public libraries being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are students who need to find other ways of accessing their online classes in order to experience the education they would be getting in a classroom. While most elementary schools are not counting the online assignments toward a student's grade, education shouldn't stop for under-privileged students simply because their grade won't be affected.
Schools are trying to help by providing students will rental laptops. According to NPR, several schools in Washington D.C. are making an effort to equip students with their own devices. Educators are very aware of the issue that not all of their students have access to online devices and are doing whatever they can to make sure all students have access to online classes. In the same article from NPR, they reported that 25% of households do not have internet.
Internet access is a necessity today, but not everyone can afford it. Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel is urging internet providers to give access to Wi-Fi for all students. She is pledging for internet companies to open up public Wi-fi networks, waive late fees, and refrain from disconnecting consumers for the next 60 days.
Education should not stop during the pandemic. Students who do not have the privilege of having access to technology should not be left behind. Schools and the government should put effort into making sure no child is left behind in education by the lack of internet access.