Monday, November 2, 2020

Comptroller Stringer Calls on DOE to Provide Internet Passports to All Low-Income Families to Guarantee Equal Internet Access for All Students


Stringer urges the City to act immediately to close digital divide leaving over 100,000 students without internet and 77,000 students lacking Wi-Fi-enabled devices

Proposes the City offer subsidized and redeemable “Internet Passports” for low-income families to purchase broadband service from providers in their area

Stringer: There is no reason why now – more than seven months into the crisis – the City still has no comprehensive plan for addressing these challenges. Without immediate action, these students will fall further behind in their coursework and find themselves at an even deeper educational disadvantage. We cannot allow this to happen.

 New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza calling on the City to provide all New York City students with the internet access they need to participate in remote learning and realize their right to a free and public education amid today’s COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Comptroller Stringer urged immediate action to solve the city’s digital divide that leaves over 100,000 students who live in approximately 40,000 households without internet and 77,000 students lacking Wi-Fi-enabled devices.

Students have been struggling to learn remotely since the outset of the pandemic; many have been forced to go to extreme ends to obtain internet service, including huddling on street corners around LinkNYC stations for free Wi-Fi, searching for other weak connections in their general vicinity, or worse still, not logging into remote learning at all.

Comptroller Stringer outlined solutions to these challenges, recommending that the City immediately convene all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and carriers operating in the five boroughs to discuss all possible options to quickly provide affordable and reliable internet service to every student in the city who lacks a high-speed broadband connection. The Comptroller also proposed that the City offer subsidized and redeemable “Internet Passports” for low-income families to purchase broadband service from any ISP in their area.

The Comptroller also called on the City to release updated information about the City’s efforts to identify the exact number and location of all students lacking a high-speed internet connection at their home or shelter; offer details on any plans to provide affordable, reliable internet service for every student in need; and provide transparent data on the DOE’s responsiveness to help desk calls.

The full letter is available here.

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