Philadelphia has a history of attempting to bridge the Digital Divide. Many residents remember the planned wireless network that was supposed to cover the entire city, co-implemented by Earthlink. Unfortunately, not 3 years after it was proposed and begun, the WiFi revolution never took place. In April 2012, Technically Philly reported that nearly 55% of households do not have broadband Internet access. When students go home after school, it is very unlikely for them to learn how to use the Internet for positive, educational uses. Even if they were to go to a library or other community spot for using computers, they will not get time comparable to their suburban or higher-income counterparts.
The US House of Representatives is trying to pick up the slack: Congressman George Miller (D-CA) has introduced a bill attempting to again provide funding for the purchase, maintenance, and training on new technology in schools across the country. According to the bill, $3.5 billion could be spent on improving infrastructure and training over the next 5 years (check out this outline for more concise details). This money could server to improve outcomes and provide opportunities for a large group of kids across the country, and our School District is sure to apply. As long as the funds are used well (in consultation with teachers and their students), things may get better.
I hope that this bill will at least rekindle the fire under some Senators and Representatives to think about how we prepare our students for the future: do we provide the tools they will need to use in the 21st century or rely on methods of the past? I advocate for the former.