Latest News and Comment from Education

Friday, April 24, 2020

CURMUDGUCATION: Internet Accessibility, Arne Duncan, and Dreaming Big

CURMUDGUCATION: Internet Accessibility, Arne Duncan, and Dreaming Big

Internet Accessibility, Arne Duncan, and Dreaming Big

Arne Duncan penned an op-ed in the Washington Post this week; the piece is notable because it is not baloney, but addresses one of the issues that the great pandemic pause has brought to the fore-- internet accessibility.

Duncan notes that currently if you don't have internet, you don't have school. And he notes that while internet providers stepped forward with heartwarming offers of free internet for poor families, that turned out to come with a little asterisk about debt and financial suitability. He doesn't it, but this is probably related to the fact that in many cases the "free" internet  was actually a sort of free introductory offer-- 60 or 90 days free if you've sign up for their internet service, and if you forget to cancel in time--voila, you're now a paying-full-price customer. In short, many ISPs have treated this issue like a marketing opportunity and not a chance for do-goodery. Duncan notes that some public pressure in some areas has helped fix this.

But that's only the tip of the internet iceberg. He talks about getting internet to all of Chicago, which is not a simple thing, but is probably easier than the kinds of problems we face in rural areas like mine, where some families will never have internet access of any sort-- wi-fi or phone-- until some major infrastructure is built.

Internet connectivity in my neck of the woods, and other necks like it, has always been wonky. My old high school's most effective barrier against student smartphone use is that signal reception in the school is terrible (the other side of that is that students are constantly looking to charge during the day because signal-seeking phones use up charges quickly). One of the elementary schools in my old district depends on a satellite dish for their internet connection. When my wife had a zoom staff CONTINUE READING: 
CURMUDGUCATION: Internet Accessibility, Arne Duncan, and Dreaming Big