There’s no question that this year has been tough for a lot of people- parents, students, and anyone in between. As a student myself, I can say that these past two semesters have been weird, and like most students, I’ve had to make many adjustments. During the spring semester, moving from in-person to online class, in what seemed like a blink of an eye, was not ideal but had to be done. I am lucky that I’ve had the resources necessary to be successful in this changing environment. Sadly, that’s not the case for every student. There are students, especially high school and younger, who don’t have the technological resources they need, such as a computer and the internet.

I did some research and found an article from March by the Pew Research Center titled, “As schools close due to the Coronavirus, some U.S. students face a digital ‘homework gap’”. They conducted research on students’ access to the internet at home and concluded that many students do not have access to the internet, “particularly those who are from lower-income households”.

  1. “The majority of eighth-grade students in the United States rely on the internet at home to get their homework done.”

Twenty-six percent of eighth-grade students reported using the internet every day for school, while 31% reported they use it almost every day. Overall, 58% of eighth-grade students use the internet at home for their schoolwork. These numbers can also be categorized by parents’ income level. Eighth-graders with parents who are college grads reported using the internet at home at 62%, while students with parents who did not graduate high school only reported at 48%.

  1. “The “homework gap” – which refers to school-age children lacking the connectivity they need to complete schoolwork at home – is more pronounced for black, Hispanic and lower-income households.”

The article also looks at the home internet access of students ages 6 to 17 based on household income. They reported that 35% of students with an annual household income below $30,000 do not have access to the internet at home. In households with an annual income of $75,000 or more a year, that percentage drops down to 6%. The author adds, “These broadband gaps are particularly pronounced in black and Hispanic households with school-age children – especially those with low incomes.”

  1. “Some lower-income teens say they lack resources to complete schoolwork at home.”

“In a 2018 Center survey, about one-in-five teens ages 13 to 17 (17%) said they are often or sometimes unable to complete homework assignments because they do not have reliable access to a computer or internet connection. Black teens and those living in lower-income households were more likely to say they cannot complete homework assignments for this reason.”

  1. “A quarter of lower-income teens do not have access to a home computer.”

Twelve percent of U.S. teens lack access to a computer at home, therefore negatively impacting their schoolwork. This can also be looked at based on household income. Twenty-five percent of students with household incomes of $30,000 or less do not have access to a computer at home, while only 4% of students with a household income of $75,000 or more have the same issue.

These findings had me thinking about our community and how accessible our educational programs at The Leadership Center are. We work to ensure students have access to education regardless of their situation at home. Our programs are both accessible on and off-line, so the lack of internet connection at home does not inhibit students from participating. We aim to focus on activities and personal connection so that all students have an equal opportunity for our education.

Thanks for reading!
-Elizabeth

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