How one town tackles the digital divide
From an editorial in the Durham Herald:
Lots of pundits, politicians, academics and activists decry the digital divide and its effects. The town of Chapel Hill, with the help of Durham’s Kramden Institute, is tackling it in a concrete if longest-journey-single-step fashion.
During four weeks of classes sponsored by the town, nearly two dozen public housing residents learned “digital literacy.” And when they graduated last week, they took home — free of charge — laptops Kramden volunteers had refurbished.
… AT&T is wiring eight of Chapel Hill’s 13 public housing neighborhoods for Internet access, and will offer a free connection for the next five years.
To be sure, computer access and high-speed connections may not be a panacea on the education front. … With the computer comes not just access to knowledge but boundless opportunities for distraction.
Regardless, as more and more schoolwork shifts to online — and computer access and savvy is virtually essential … putting computers in the hands of those who have heretofore been left behind is a tangible move toward smoothing just a bit a grossly uneven socio-economic playing field.