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Every home in America should have a computer and access to reliable internet services. In economically challenged communities, this is not feasible. The overall cost of not being connected to the world wide web is not easily measurable.
The need is even greater since the COVID-19 pandemic began. People were suddenly thrown into isolation — those without access to the outside world are the virus’s invisible victims.
Nearly 30 percent of the population in Lawndale, Humboldt Park, and Garfield Park live below the poverty level. That greater than the rates for Illinois and the United States — 12.3 and 11.5 percent, respectively. These households are more likely to use their limited resources to buy food, pay rent, and make sure there are working utilities rather than purchase a computer.
In November 2019, an international study determined American students fall behind Denmark and South Korea in computer literacy skills. In the evaluation, researchers considered several children’s abilities to write or edit text for a school assignment, search for relevant information for a school project on the internet or judge whether the information they find is trustworthy.
Researchers found that if the students do not learn these at home, their teacher is unlikely to fill the gap because most do not feel comfortable teaching computer skills. Dirk Hastedt further explains:
Certain things you need to know in today’s world are not taught in school. Teachers think students already know it, and this is not true.
The least expensive laptops that offer features needed for online video calling start at $300. Certainly, there are cheaper computers available, but they limit a person’s ability to seek and secure work-from-home employment.
COVID-19 has demonstrated that computers are necessary. Today’s students attend classes using computers loaned to them from their schools if the district’s budget allows. Sixty-seven percent of companies forced to change their workforce from a physical building to work-from-home formats expect the change will be permanent.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
US Census Reporter: Chicago City (West)–North & South Lawndale, Humboldt Park, East & West Garfield Park PUMA, IL
Laptop Magazine: The best laptops under $500 in 2020; by Rami Tabari
EducationWeek: International Study Finds Major Inequities in Computer Literacy; by Alyson Klien
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Cathy Milne-Ware
Inset Image Courtesy of Zulfikar Dharmawan’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License