Five million households with school-age children do not have broadband access. This Pew Research Center statistic is frequently discussed in the education world and is something that impacts every state across the U.S.
And now the state of North Carolina is working to address – and close – the growing gap.
North Carolina Takes Action
Currently the state of North Carolina is conducting a survey of K-12 student parents and guardians across the state about their at-home Internet access, and if there's an impact on students’ ability to complete homework. The results will help the state determine the need for Internet connectivity, and inform policy suggestions for aiding these students.
Together, with the Broadband Infrastructure Office and the Friday Institute, the state has set out to survey parents either through an anonymous online link (which is mobile friendly) or printable copies.
The goal? To ensure no child is at a disadvantage to their peers due to a lack of Internet access outside the classroom. Seven in 10 teachers assign homework that requires Internet access. The students who lack broadband connectivity are caught in the growing gap. North Carolina wants to determine the effect of connectivity issues statewide in order to move forward and work to close the gap by providing solutions.
If you are in the state of North Carolina, please share the survey with any parents of K-12 students. The survey is available here until Friday, May 11th.
Quantify the Need for Connectivity
North Carolina is already taking the necessary steps to quantify how many students lack Internet at home, and how it’s affecting their ability to complete homework. They have created the survey, but now it’s time to get the word out.
As an educator, you can help publicize the survey to parents and emphasize how broadband access outside the classroom can benefit their children.
Here are six suggestions from Kajeet on how educators can help ensure the survey reaches as many parents as possible in order to provide a complete picture of at-home Internet access.
- Text. Use your school district’s texting service for parents if available. Send out the survey link and reach the parents on their cell phones directly.
- Printed Survey. Provide a hard copy option for parents. This is particularly important for the families who lack Internet access at home, and may otherwise not complete the survey. These surveys can be sent home with students or included in printed school newsletters.
- Outreach Team. Involve your school community outreach team to reach all households. Include people such as the Title I coordinators, migrant program staff, homeless program staff, counselors, home advisors, etc.
- Promote at School Events. Explain the reason and goals for the connectivity survey at parent-facing school events. Make sure to bring printed versions to hand out to parents in attendance or have devices available for online surveys. These events can include school board meetings, parent-teacher associations (PTAs), back-to-school-nights, etc.
- Community Support. Reach out to local libraries and community centers of any sort as an additional avenue to reach parents. Include signs with the link to the survey or ask to place these signs next to public computers. Also leave printed versions with information on where to turn the survey back in.
Please share this online survey with North Carolina parents of K-12 students. You can also access a printable version here (the Spanish version is available here). North Carolina is taking the necessary steps to close the Homework Gap and you can help them reach their goal to support students.
Questions? Contact the Broadband Infrastructure Office directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (919) 754-6695.