While Internet use has increased over the past decade, a socioeconomic disparity still remains between the haves and the have-nots.
Today, one in five American adults — including many earning less than $30,000 a year — do not use the Internet, according to a 2013 Pew Internet study.
In an effort to bridge this digital divide looming over future generations, Cox Communications is offering affordable high-speed Internet to disadvantaged Bellevue Public Schools students, Cox spokeswoman Gail Graeve said.
The program is open to households with a BPS student who currently qualifies for federal free school lunches. The discount isn’t available for those students who qualify for a reduced-price lunch through the federal school lunch program.
The household must not have subscribed to Cox Internet service within the past 90 days to qualify. Those that do qualify can receive discounted Internet service for $9.95 per month plus tax, with no deposit, no contract, no installation or modem rental fees and a two-year price guarantee.
Cox offers the program to help students who wouldn’t otherwise have home Internet access available for schoolwork.
“Students are utilizing technology in schools,” Graeve said. “When they can’t access it at home, there’s a real disadvantage.”
The promotion is offered through a partnership with Connect2Compete, a national nonprofit organization aspiring to connect all Americans to the Internet and teach them how to use the Internet to their advantage
“We know too much now, (the Internet) is no longer a luxury,” said C2C CEO Zach Leverenz. “It’s absolutely essential to succeed and compete.”
Leverenz said Web access is especially important for students after the announcement of President Barack Obama’s ConnectED initiative last June. The goal of the initiative is to connect 99 percent of American students to the Internet through their schools and libraries within the next five years, according to the White House’s website.
“The implication of digital learning in classrooms is built on the premise that connectivity extends to the home,” Leverenz said. “We risk widening the achievement gap.”
Home Internet access has increased through offers such as Cox’s, Leverenz said, especially when parents have had a facilitating principal or teacher to champion the program.
Refurbished desktops and laptops are also available through C2C’s partner, GoodPC, which sells discounted computing equipment to those who qualify through C2C or live in a household with at least one student receiving free or reduced-price school lunches.
Flyers for the discounted Cox Internet service are located at information kiosks in all BPS offices.
They will not be distributed to students due to a BPS policy prohibiting advertising, said BPS Communications Director Amanda Oliver.
Furthermore, Oliver said student success doesn’t entirely depend on having Internet access at home because students do have access to technology during school hours.