Classrooms no longer have chalk boards. Children do have technology everywhere. Technology requires bandwidth. Digital tools are important for tech-infused educational growth. Adequate high-speed internet is needed for our schools future.
Digital equity is ensuring students have equal access to technology and that students and their support network receive the training necessary to use the technology toolsets.
Philip provides a shout-out to CiCi Weston, Executive Director of the Christine W Avery Learning Center – http://cwalearningcenter.com/ for their support of inner-city youth, fatherless homes. They went above and beyond to get hotspots for children that needed the internet connectivity.
Also, Philip mentions the Francine Delany school where Chromebooks and additional WiFi Hotspots were provided to do homework.
WNC Broadband Project applauds Asheville City Schools partnering with the Asheville City Schools Foundation, Buncombe County Government, the City of Asheville and the Asheville Housing Authority to works towards bridging the digital gap.
By the end of this year the following family development residents will have internet access at no cost:
Pisgah View Apartments
According the Asheville Citizens Times Skyrunner, an Asheville-based wireless and fiber broadband internet company, offered the winning bid of $520,000. Skyrunner’s proposal also includes four years of ongoing services charges. Buncombe County has pledged $100,000 in Coronavirus Relief Money, while Asheville has pledged $50,000.
Minimizing the digital divide and providing digital equity are attributes that will provide for a healthier and more economic-vibrant future in Western North Carolina.
The need for better broadband is clear. On the Asheville City Schools homepage, the tagline is ‘Excellence with Equity.’ The Asheville Citizen Times article linked below references that kids can not function without broadband in our current COVID environment.
Positive Opportunities Develop Success, or PODS are locations throughout our Asheville City School communities that provide broadband-available and socially distanced desks for students to connect to the internet and perform school work.
Because of PODS, the pandemic, in a strange twist, has actually become a boon to Asheville’s Black and brown students, Wynn said and other organizers say.
While there are not yet numbers to quantify it, the students appear to not only be surpassing their performance during the early part of the pandemic, but during times when they were in the regular classroom, they said.
“We’ve seen some dynamic change in our students, attitudes and confidence, and we just no longer want our Black and brown students to make up this opportunity gap,” Wynn said.
Asheville Citizen Times – Joel Burgess, on the behalf of Kidada Wynn – City Schools Student Support Services Executive DIrector
What about our future for students? Broadband or high-speed internet is necessary for digital inclusion and equity. Our community needs stewards of broadband and the Western North Carolina Broadband Project Team is here to help with the associated strategies including:
Federal, State, Regional, and Local Broadband Priorities
Funding & Foundation Leadership
Education & Healthcare
We can make a digital WNC that is inclusive.
Please consider supporting the WNC Broadband Project objectives. Our 2021 Policy Priorities will be released soon.
Today many tools are available hold ‘virtual events.’ Google Meet, Zoom, WebEx and others provide software for anybody to broadcast their virtual event.
The Asheville Chamber of Commerce’s WNC Career Expo – Virtual Job Fair was held Wednesday, October 14th through Friday, October 16th with dozens of employers and hundreds of job seekers. The virtual ‘Main Floor’ job fair was divided into employers with job opportunities and ‘Employment and Training’ representation; including Asheville 50+ Works. With this virtual online-event, those that have high-speed internet or broadband; job seeking is enabled virtually.
Businesses, individuals, and community groups can post broadband-heavy content including:
Angela Siefer, Executive Director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) speaks for our nation on digital opportunities. Her message provided to congress earlier this year:
Residential internet service in the US is expensive.
Analytic reporting of the cost of service throughout the nation are not available. We need the FCC to gather this data and make it publicly available.
In the US digital training is undervalued and underfunded.
1/3 of manufacturing workers lack proficient digital skills
1/2 of all construction, transportation, and storage workers lack proficient digital skills
No dedicated funding is available towards digital training in the US
Local governments, libraries, non-profits have been left to piece-together to needed recourses to address the basic digital skills training. Piecing together is the wrong strategy for a strong workforce.
Angela Siefer, Executive Director, National Digital Inclusion Alliance
Our Western North Carolina communities need to continue to provide and grow:
Guidance to low income parents on how to connect to their children’s teachers.
Leadership for seniors on how to use electronic communication and telehealth.
Help Veterans and disadvantaged individuals with digital skills for employment.
Support the State of North Carolina in developing digital equity.
Digital equity refers to whether people can access and effectively use the technology necessary to participate in modern society. Digital equity planning is the opportunity for the rural areas of North Carolina as Representative Jake Johnson discusses.
Support the WNC Broadband Project’s goals to advocate, educate, and engage our communities in the needed awareness of these digital opportunities.