It Is Absolutely Necessary for Kids to Have Free, Reliable Internet Access

Aug 21, 2020 12:00:00 AM


Earlier this week one of my friends posted a Facebook status that said her daughter started distance learning and during one of the class sessions she heard another parent say, “How long does this Zoom thing last? I need my phone back.” 

I hollered after reading that, but as I sit here thinking about it now, it’s a sad reality that many parents are facing this upcoming school year—they’ll have to sacrifice, be ridiculously creative in getting their kids logged on or, completely give up on education. 

This example alone further proves the case as to why all students need their own devices and why it’s absolutely necessary that all families have internet access—specifically free and reliable internet for those in the low-income bracket. And that’s also why we’re coming at the Federal Communications Commission—again—with a series of public and online actions to demand that they close this gap.

First of all, can we just be honest about the fact that in-person learning is a no-go right now? Because already, many colleges, elementary and high schools, and, in some cases, whole districts have had to find out the hard way.

Early into the fall semester, colleges like UNC Chapel Hill and Notre Dame are telling their students to pack up and hit the road back home because of COVID-19 outbreaks.

To assume these college students were going to return to freedom after being cooped up at home for months and not kick it at bars and parties and live their “adult” lives is delusional and ridiculous. But I guess the thirst to collect thousands of dollars for room and board will make some people ignore the science and reopen college campuses anyway.

And in Georgia, the Cherokee County School District recently had to close its third building after 500 students were quarantined with 25 testing positive for ‘The Rona.’

With all of this going on, distance learning is clearly the best preventative option—the only option if or until we get some competent leadership that can tackle the coronavirus.

Now, back to this internet thing. Right now, 15 million students across the country are #LoggedOut. Whether they’ve returned to school or are in districts that are completely remote, their access has literally been denied.

What that really means is, their fundamental right to access a public education through the 14th amendment has been denied. So how in the hell are they supposed to learn? Quick answer—they can’t.

I’ve been writing for weeks about how now is the chance to get everything we need and want from the government and if we don’t, we risk the chance of our kids falling deeper into these opportunity gaps. So I’m not going to waste time rehashing those arguments and make this piece and request short and sweet. Join us in this nationwide action on August 26th and demand that the students returning home from college, kids in K-12 quarantined because of exposure to COVID-19, and those whose families just don’t have the means to support distance learning are connected—because this is one “privilege” that cannot just be afforded to a few.

Tanesha Peeples

Tanesha Peeples is driven by one question in her work—“If not me, then who?” As the former Deputy Director of Activist Development for brightbeam, Tanesha merges the worlds of communications and grassroots activism to push for change in the public education system. Her passion for community and relentless mission for justice and liberation drive her in uplifting and amplifying the voices and advocacy of those that are often ignored. Tanesha wholeheartedly believes that education is the foundation for success. Her grand vision is one where everyone—regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender or ZIP code—can have access to a comfortable quality of life and enjoy the freedoms and liberties promised to all Americans. And that's what she works towards every day.

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