I am the father of four children who attend school in the Austin community. Chicago Public Schools recently announced that 93% of students have “digital access.” I worry that this high number may lull us into complacency while it is not reflective of the reality on the ground in many of our communities. A recent report by Kids First Chicago and the Metropolitan Planning Council shows that over 100,000 children in the city, including 8,000 in Austin, lack broadband internet access at home.
Most of those children are CPS students, and the majority live in neighborhoods on the South and West sides of the city.
Some of the 93% of students CPS cites may have been logging into their accounts on their phones — clearly not suitable means for conducting online learning. And many families do not have enough devices for all their children, and others may have internet that does not support multiple students trying to learn on multiple devices at the same time.
While I commend CPS for trying hard to make up the digital divide that exists in Chicago, we still have a long way to go to ensure that all of our students have true and equal “digital access.” If we expect them to be able to learn from home into next school year, CPS and the city have the next couple months to ensure that all students have reliable access to the internet and enough devices before the next school year begins.
— Claiborne Wade, Chicago
Read Claiborne's Letter to the Editor as published in the Chicago Tribune here.