For most of us, the Internet defines our lives, from immediately checking our Twitter feeds in the morning to falling asleep cradling our Netflix-blaring laptops at night. So New Yorkers may be shocked to learn that one in four New York households do not have an Internet connection in their homes.
And while for some of us, that might just mean a little less Facebook trolling, for New York’s K-12 students, an Internet-less household could put them at a severe academic disadvantage.
That’s why Connect2Compete, an organization that aims to provide low-cost computers and Internet access to people across the nation, is launching EveryoneOn, an initiative to help bring affordable Internet to all the city’s students.
“While more than 75 percent of U.S. teachers have their students access and submit assignments online, over 80 percent of teachers say that their students do not have sufficient access to the digital tools they need to complete school assignments at home, contributing further to the digital divide,” stated the press release announcing the EveryoneOn launch.
EveryoneOn marked its official kick-off at Harlem’s Community Action School–M.S. 258, where an impressive list of guest speakers included Mayor Michael Bloomberg, U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology Director Richard Culatta and New York City Chancellor of Education Dennis M. Walcott.
The presentation was made to a roomful of about 40 sixth- through eighth-graders. Courtesy of NBA Cares, they were treated to a Skype session with New York Knicks guard John Starks, who taught them a lesson about various online learning tools (I guess gone are the days that kids have to wait to use the Internet until after they’ve done their homework). Mr. Starks reportedly surprised the kids by appearing in the classroom in person when the Skype lesson was done.
But even once students have Internet connection in their homes, improvements remain to be made to the equally poor Internet situation in many of the city’s public schools. Just last week, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer publicly criticized the poor broadband connection in New York’s public school system, stating, “From Tribeca to Tompkinsville, the Upper East Side to East Flatbush, the South Bronx to Sheepshead Bay, schools across the city—in low-income and affluent neighborhoods alike—are affected by poor broadband.”
Let’s just say—be it in homes, or in schools—when it comes to broadband connection, New York City is in need of a serious rewiring.