K-12 Tech Needs Key on Digital Divide


A recent report from the Aurora Institute, a Vienna Va.-based education policy nonprofit focused on equitable outcomes for all students, emphasizes the importance of further action to close the digital divide in order to “expand learning to anytime and anyplace, with greater opportunities for next generation learning.”

The report lists narrowing the digital divide – generally defined as the gap between those who have ready to access to broadband services and appropriate devices and those who don’t – as one of several Federal policy recommendations for 2022.

“Student success in the 21st century requires access to technology and high-speed internet,” the report says. “Bridging the digital divide requires increasing federal funding and expanding access to broadband so that all students, families, and staff in K-12 education are connected to high-speed internet.”

The report calls on Congress and the Federal government to continuing ongoing efforts to modernize and expand existing E-Rate and Lifeline programs to fund school, community, and home-based broadband service and device access “to address the persistent inequalities that digitally disconnected students and staff face.”

Elsewhere in the report, Aurora Institute makes policy recommendations geared toward:

  • Advancing education innovations;
  • Transforming systems of assessments;
  • Rethinking next-generation accountability;
  • Creating learning ecosystems and competency-based pathways aligned across K-12, higher education, career and technical education, and the workforce;
  • Modernizing and diversifying the educator workforce;
  • Advancing educational equity; and
  • Supporting COVID-19 learning recovery.

“This set of innovative, future-focused federal policy recommendations are geared at challenging the status quo and current federal policy frames that perpetuate tinkering with the existing system, rather than reimagining it,” said Susan Patrick, Aurora’s president and chief executive officer, upon releasing the recommendations last month.

“It’s past time that federal policymakers shift their mindsets and embark on fundamental changes that support innovation from the bottom-up in order to begin to advance future focused education systems for a greater good,” she said.