Prichard Committee promotes awareness of the digital divide, works with leaders on solutions
Just weeks into the pandemic, Prichard Committee members and staff began asking questions about online learning and the impact it might have on students with no internet access. As weeks turned into months, however, our attention expanded to the impact the digital divide was having on all Kentuckians – students, teachers, working professionals, and those in need of online health care.
In May, along with a coalition of advocate groups, we called for federal funding to make universal internet access available in rural areas and to low-income citizens. We issued numerous op-eds and hosted three episodes of Innovations in Education on this complex topic.
Over the summer, we began working with the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet on the issue, and by fall, we’d partnered with them on an internet speed test that will provide data we need to build a map across Kentucky of the high and low points of internet connectivity. More than 72,000 Kentuckians across the state participated in the test.
We also supported House Bill 320, passed by the 2021 Kentucky General Assembly, which will dedicate $250 million to a broadband deployment fund.
“The pandemic has made it abundantly clear that all homes need internet access for work, learning, and health care,” said Ramsey. “Closing the digital divide for students, families, and communities is paramount for Kentucky to truly embrace a big bold future of education excellence and economic opportunity.”