As stated, 1 in 5 children under the age of eighteen lack access to broadband citywide, equating to more than 110,000 kids. Predominantly black and Latinx/a/o neighborhoods show startling gaps in internet connectivity, including:
- Just over 1 in 3 households in Austin, including 33%, or nearly 8,000 of all residing children
- Nearly 1 in 3 households in Humboldt Park, including 33%, or 5,100 of all residing children
- Nearly 1 in 2 households in West Englewood, including 46%, or 3,100 of all residing children
Increased internet access for these communities, some of which have seen disproportionately high rates of COVID-19 cases, would provide a plethora of telehealth and other ancillary benefits, in addition to closing the Digital Divide which contributes to a significant racial equity gap in Chicago’s education landscape.
Rena R., a CPS mother of twins living in the Austin community, cited the difficult challenge in effectively participating in remote learning for the many families in Austin who don’t have reliable internet at home.
Predominantly white, more affluent neighborhoods, without exception, show rates of connectivity near or above 90%.
You would need to combine more than 15 community areas north of Lincoln Park to find an equivalent number of children under 18 without broadband access across Chicago’s North Side as just the two community areas of Austin and Englewood.
Aggregating to community areas can’t even fully capture the inequity, as there are individual census tracts in some communities where less than 40% of households have connections to broadband.
The country’s leading data and internet providers already have infrastructure in place in Chicago to allow for broad adoption within every household.
This is not an infrastructure issue, but an adoption issue.
One CPS parent on the South Side, who lost her job due to the COVID-19 closure, said that she now has to decide between paying for food, paying the gas bill, and paying for internet service to ensure her kids continue learning.
No parent should be forced to make such choices.
“...Padres deben recibir apoyo para capacitar su conocimiento de tecnología y así reducir el estrés de ayudar y supervisar a sus hijos. En algunos casos, este problema es más pronunciado para padres que tienen el Inglés como barrera y los estudiantes de aprendizaje de Inglés (ELL).”
– Alma S., Back of the Yards Parent
Translation: Parents should receive technology support to reduce the stress of helping and supervising their students. In some cases, this problem is more pronounced for parents that have English as a language barrier and for students that are English language learners (ELL).