Internet Access & Inequality

March 29, 2011 at 1:35 pm 4 comments

The JBHE Foundation.  “The Once Huge Racial Gap in Internet Access at Public Schools Has Nearly Disappeared.”  The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. 47 (2005):  24-25.  JSTOR. Web. 28 Mar. 2011.

Many of us can’t image our lives without access to the Internet.  Personally, the first thing I do every morning (after feeding my children) is to hop on my laptop and check my e-mail.  Many daily routines across the country include monitoring stocks online, checking the weather and scanning daily papers – all online.  The use of the Internet in schools has also become second nature.  Believe it or not, when I signed my daughter’s kindergarten registration papers earlier this month, I was required to provide a signature.  This signature will allow her to have access to the internet in her classroom.  I believe all students are entitled to the ability to access the internet.

Unfortunately, access to technology, specifically the access to the Internet, has not always been equal.  As the author of this week’s article states, “In the early days there always was a large racial gap in the distribution of benefits.”  (24).  I can’t say that this particular fact was that surprising to me as I have heard that inner city schools often lack necessities such as text books.  What does surprise me is the fact that gap is nearly gone.

According to an article published by The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, in 1995, 10 percent of schools with a low percentage of minority students had access to the internet within the classroom.  This is triple the percentage for schools whose student body had a large minority population.  In 2000, those numbers jumped to 83 percent for low minority populations and 64 percent for high minority populations.  In 2003, this gap was further decreased.  Nearly 92 percent of classrooms with a large minority population were wired.  This number is only slightly below that of predominantly white schools.  Even more surprising, access to broadband internet connections is higher in schools with a higher number of minorities (24-25).

This article does go on to point out that not all of the current statistics are positive.  The ratio of students to  internet capable computers at predominantly white schools is 4 to 1.  At schools with large minority populations, this ratio is 5 to 1 (25).  Also, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, at the time this article was published only 31.1 percent of black households have Internet access as compared to 55.2 percent of white households (25).  Obviously, this is a huge deal because the Internet is helpful in writing papers, completing homework assignments, and even exchanging ideas with teachers and fellow students.  The article also points out that having the Internet at home can help students to research colleges and prepare for standardized tests (25).

The bottom line is, in the last decade, access to the Internet has become a valuable tool in classrooms and homes across the country.  Unfortunately, minority students haven’t always had the same privledges as white students.  One a positive note, as we are moving into the future, this gap seems to be decreasing.  Unfortunately, progress still need to be made.  Hopefully one day all students will have equal access to the educational benefits of the internet.

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Finicky Dreamweaver Stepping Away

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. UseLessInk1234  |  April 1, 2011 at 1:54 am

    Very interesting video! I didn’t know some of the things that were brought up in the video. Nice find.

    Reply
  • 2. mqm5176  |  April 2, 2011 at 5:03 am

    This article reaffirms my belief that I think we have moved to technology a little fast. What I mean is that the majority of assignments are now required to be turned in typed in schools. As this article indicates, all students do not have access to computers and simply may not be able to type up their assignments. I think that we need to look at this era in technology as the transitional phase as its costs reduce and it becomes more widely available; we need to be careful not to jump the gun to thinking the transition has been fully made.

    Reply
  • 3. emiller27  |  April 2, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    It’s hard to remember what life was like without the internet. It seems so crazy that kindergarteners are using the internet in classrooms. I believe I first used a computer sometime in middle school, and it was a MAC with a tiny screen. We only used the computers to learn how to type and play Oregon Trail.
    It is a shame that minority students have less access to computers and the internet, but I feel like this issue will never go away. In my high school, we were required to type our papers, but we had a computer lab that was available before and after school and during study halls. There wasn’t an excuse if your paper was not typed. The computer lab had a sign up sheet, so it was your responsibility to make arrangements.

    Reply
  • 4. kristyn  |  April 5, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    I love your first couple of sentences; it is so true. I do the same thing after I get my son situated in the morning! I honestly don’t know what I would do with out the internet. And I think it is great your daughter will get to have internet access in her classroom, it is ashame not all schools can be that way; hopefully one day!

    Reply

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