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Inequality at school will persist until we close digital divide at home

Providing Internet access in the classroom is essential to creating equal educational opportunities (“State OK’s trial of new education tests,” Metro, Nov. 20), but inequality will persist until we get every student connected at home. Roughly one in three Americans still do not have broadband Internet service at home; a whopping 40 percent of African-Americans and half of Hispanic Americans are out in the cold when it comes to broadband.

Solving this problem is critical to rebuilding our economy. Most Fortune 500 companies will only post new job offerings online, and most middle-class jobs require strong Internet skills.

Two years ago, the Federal Communications Commission teamed with Comcast to close the digital divide. Their program, known as Internet Essentials, offers heavily discounted broadband service, affordable computers, and training to low-income families.

Nearly 1 million Americans have joined in just two years. Now other broadband providers are joining the ranks to provide the same service.

The digital divide took years of neglect to open so wide; it will take years of hard work, and more of these kinds of public-private partnerships, to close.

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Hilary O. Shelton
Washington bureau chief
NAACP
Washington