One of the hardest things in high school is not having a computer at home. And for me it’s not as easy as going out and buying one, because my family isn’t able to afford it. But most of my teachers aren’t always mindful of that.
They always tell me to go to the library or stay after school to complete my computer work. But what they don’t understand is, that I have after school commitments like a job, and school clubs and programs. The public library does have computers, but they limit people’s access to just one hour, which is in no way enough time for me to finish my homework. On top of that, just getting to the library and home again takes an hour out of my day.
Recently, I had an assignment due in class to compare three different businesses and their advantages and disadvantages. At home over the weekend, I hand-wrote three pages on notebook paper, but for obvious reasons, I wasn’t able to type it. So a few days later, when I should have been headed to my pre-calculus class, I instead found myself in our school’s computer lab typing the paper. I ended up missing the whole class and part of lunch, and now I’m behind in math.
My school does provide computers for students who don’t own them, but they’re the really old desktops. My friends say they barely work because they’re so slow. But that’s not the reason why I didn’t request one. For me, it’s the size. We just don’t have the space in our apartment for a giant tower and monitor.
I do have a smartphone, but mine is only so smart. I can’t access Word documents or edit Powerpoints or use Google Drive…all things my classes at school require.
I live in the age of technology, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean I have access to it.
Listen to Catory Goodman tell her story in this podcast from Youth Radio.
The Other Digital Divide
Access to the internet is also a hurdle many students face, especially in rural and low-income communities. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted in December 2014 to increase funding for connectivity with a goal of providing between 100 megabits and 1,000 megabits per second by the end of 2018, according to EdSource.
But for now, the article states, only 30 percent of schools nationwide – and only 14 percent of schools in low-income neighborhoods — currently have the targeted high-speed capacity and only 45 percent of districts have the WiFi capability that would enable every student to use a device linked to the Internet.
The funding will be paid for with an increase of less than $2 per year per phone line on consumer phone bills, with an increase for businesses as well. “While the impact on consumers will be small, the impact on children, teachers, local communities and American competitiveness will be great,” said the F.C.C. said in a released statement.