Skip Navigation
We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, provide ads, analyze site traffic, and personalize content. If you continue to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies.

The Digital Divide and Homework Gap in Your State

NEA's Digital Equity report details the digital divide in each state and provides policy recommendations to help close it.
Girl at Computer
Published: October 16, 2020

Access to the internet the devices necessary to access it are essential for learning. No matter where students live, it is critical for conducting research, doing homework, and attending class when school buildings are closed.  

For too many, the door to the virtual classroom is blocked. NEA research reveals that an estimated one quarter of all school-aged children live in households without broadband access or a web-enabled device such as a computer or tablet. This inequality is systematically related to the historical divisions of race, socioeconomic status, and geography. 

25% of all school-aged children live in households without broadband access or a web-enabled device (such as a computer or tablet).

For some, the internet and laptops are simply too expensive. Often, multiple people in the same household are forced to share one or two devices. Others lack sufficient broadband infrastructure. The result? Native students, rural students, and students of color are now much less likely to have full connectivity. 

To ensure all our students have what they need to learn, we must invest in building broadband infrastructure and in programs like the federal E-Rate program, which would provide funds to help schools purchase and provide Wi-Fi hotspots, connected devices, and other necessary technology.    

Kids doing remote learning

Yet, the U.S. Senate has failed to adequately fund the E-Rate program during the pandemic. With $12 billion in additional one-time funding, the program will distribute funds equitably, quickly and efficiently, and help students get online to learn. 

We must come together—Black, white, brown, and Indigenous, from farm to town to city—to ensure all our students have the tools they need to learn and receive a high-quality education.

Help Close the #HomeworkGap

Specific, targeted funds are needed to help students in your state who do not have internet access at home—due to lack of internet service, devices, or both. Without it, they are shut out of virtual classrooms and denied full access to public education. Urge your senators to support a one-time $12 billion investment in the E-Rate program to help schools procure and distribute Wi-Fi hotspots, connected devices, and other technology to get students online quickly, efficiently, and equitably.

The Problem

Too many students do not have access to the internet at home, exacerbating the disadvantages they face in the age of teaching and learning online, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A solution

The federal E-Rate program would help schools procure and distribute Wi-Fi hotspots, connected devices, and other technology. But, it needs $12 billion in additional one-time funding, which would help close the homework gap in the short-term, while schools grapple with the coronavirus.
Write Congress

Are you an affiliate?

Jump to updates, opportunities, and resources for NEA state and local affiliates.
hand sanitizer

Safe and Just Schools in 2022 and Beyond

NEA is here to ensure we rebuild schools with an emphasis on equity, return to the school safely, protect the most vulnerable students, and help educators navigate their rights and responsibilities amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.