Superintendent Joins Partners to Raise Awareness About the Digital Divide
On Tuesday, October 27, Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez joined Senator Richard Blumenthal and CEO of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities Joe DeLong for a press conference at Rawson STEAM School. They discussed a new report about how the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened the digital divide, and what can be done about it.
The report, which was commissioned by CCM in partnership with Dalio Education, revealed how the digital divide, or lack of access to technology, is more of an urban problem than a rural one in Connecticut. It also disproportionately affects students of color. Blumenthal and DeLong are hoping the report will help bolster efforts to pass federal legislation to address this issue. Given the impact on Hartford students and communities, Blumenthal referred to their work to expand broadband access a “call to racial justice”.
In her remarks, Superintendent Torres-Rodriguez reiterated the district’s commitment to reducing inequities for students by providing access to technology and connectivity. “In the spring, we knew that lack of access was a significant barrier for our students,” she said. “While we have diligently worked to provide devices to our students, we know there are still inadequacies in terms of connectivity.”
The district has to date provided devices to 16,282 of our students, or 92 percent, so they can have 1-to-1 access for learning. As many as 57 percent of online-only learners are learning successfully online but yet others are not, she stated.
“Equity goes beyond connectivity,” the Superintendent said, “it refers to meeting the needs of the whole student.” In addition to devices and hotspots, the district recognizes other barriers to student learning. Dr. Torres-Rodriguez noted that the students who were least engaged in online learning in the spring and now are those with high needs — students exceptionalities, English learners, and students with unstable housing.
She thanked Blumenthal and DeLong for sharing the report that validated the equity issues the district has long recognized and is working to remedy.
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