Earlier this week one of my friends posted a Facebook status that said her daughter started distance learning and during one of the class sessions she heard another parent say, “How long does this Zoom thing last? I need my phone back.”
I hollered after reading that, but as I sit here thinking about it now, it’s a sad reality that many parents are facing this upcoming school year—they’ll have to sacrifice, be ridiculously creative in getting their kids logged on or, completely give up on education.
This example alone further proves the case as to why all students need their own devices and why it’s absolutely necessary that all families have internet access—specifically free and reliable internet for those in the low-income bracket. And that’s also why we’re coming at the Federal Communications Commission—again—with a series of public and online actions to demand that they close this gap.
First of all, can we just be honest about the fact that in-person learning is a no-go right now? Because already, many colleges, elementary and high schools, and, in some cases, whole districts have had to find out the hard way.
Early into the fall semester, colleges like UNC Chapel Hill and Notre Dame are telling their students to pack up and hit the road back home because of COVID-19 outbreaks.
Just days before classes are slated to resume, colleges across the country are finding it may be next to impossible to create a coronavirus-free environment on campus. https://t.co/nLPwVFY0o8— CNN (@CNN) August 19, 2020
To assume these college students were going to return to freedom after being cooped up at home for months and not kick it at bars and parties and live their “adult” lives is delusional and ridiculous. But I guess the thirst to collect thousands of dollars for room and board will make some people ignore the science and reopen college campuses anyway.
Officials: “We are disappointed that many of our students chose to ignore COVID-19 public health guidance…”
Me: I’m disappointed that university officials willfully ignored research suggesting this would happen if they brought students back.https://t.co/Rp8A8RriI8— Neil Lewis, Jr. (@NeilLewisJr) August 17, 2020
And in Georgia, the Cherokee County School District recently had to close its third building after 500 students were quarantined with 25 testing positive for ‘The Rona.’
With all of this going on, distance learning is clearly the best preventative option—the only option if or until we get some competent leadership that can tackle the coronavirus.
Now, back to this internet thing. Right now, 15 million students across the country are #LoggedOut. Whether they’ve returned to school or are in districts that are completely remote, their access has literally been denied.
What that really means is, their fundamental right to access a public education through the 14th amendment has been denied. So how in the hell are they supposed to learn? Quick answer—they can’t.
I’ve been writing for weeks about how now is the chance to get everything we need and want from the government and if we don’t, we risk the chance of our kids falling deeper into these opportunity gaps. So I’m not going to waste time rehashing those arguments and make this piece and request short and sweet. Join us in this nationwide action on August 26th and demand that the students returning home from college, kids in K-12 quarantined because of exposure to COVID-19, and those whose families just don’t have the means to support distance learning are connected—because this is one “privilege” that cannot just be afforded to a few.
AUG 26: Join a national day of action demanding #InternetForAll. Schools are starting but right now 15 million students are still #LoggedOut.
We are asking @FCC, @AjitPaiFCC and all leaders to make internet access an urgent priority. Join us. pic.twitter.com/bYtimdxTFC— J. Gordon Wright (@jgordonwright) August 14, 2020
Tanesha Peeples is the Deputy Director of Outreach for Education Post. Her mission is to use her education, passion and experience to empower marginalized populations. Born and raised on Chicago’s South Side, she is a Chicago Public Schools alumna and proud Englewoodian. Check out her blogging about “Hope and Outrage.” FULL PROFILE →
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.