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Opinion: NYC Must Ensure All Students Have Reliable Internet

After a scattershot spring, Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza pledged to deliver a far better educational experience this fall. For thousands of families, they’ve fallen short.

by Daily News Editorial Board / November 4, 2020
Empty streets in New York City. Shutterstock/tetiana.photographer

(TNS) — Tuesday wasn’t just Election Day; it was an all-remote learning day for every last New York City’s million-plus public school kids.

After a scattershot spring, Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza pledged to deliver a far better educational experience this fall. For thousands of families, they’ve fallen short.

According to an Education Trust-New York poll released last week, New York City parents of color — who are far likelier than white parents (62% to 38%) to report that their child is learning full-time at home — are also disproportionately dissatisfied with remote learning.

One problem: The mayor and chancellor created three separate educator cadres — one for hybrid kids when they’re in school, a second for hybrid kids when they’re home, and a third for the all-remote contingent. That spread teaching talent thin and created many mismatches of kids and instructors.

Another: The wealthier families are, the likelier they are to have access to private learning pods and other enriching supplements.

Most basically, youngsters can’t learn online if they can’t reliably get online. Yet rather than ensure the extension of reliable, low-cost or free Wi-Fi to families in need — special deals offered by Charter and Altice expired in June — the city went all-in on buying and distributing iPads with T-Mobile wireless plans.

The good news is those work as hotspots for multiple devices. The bad news, as the Daily News has revealed, is the signal is spotty, leaving the city to belatedly promise to deliver put Wi-Fi in all homeless shelters...by next summer.

Add it all up, and the students whose families have been hardest hit by COVID-19, who are in most desperate need of quality learning, have gotten the short end of the remote learning stick. We should hang our heads at this tale of two cities.

(c)2020 New York Daily News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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