Estimated thousands of CMS students have no Internet service at home

Published: Jan. 26, 2016 at 12:24 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 25, 2016 at 12:24 AM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It is estimated that about 19% of Charlotte families don't have a computer with Internet access inside their homes. Many cite finances as the reason for the void. It is also estimated about 70,000 students who attend the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) don't have the connection, and that concerns educators.

"It's rough when we talk about access to the Internet," CMS teacher Albert Carter said. "Because in order to apply for jobs as an adult or student, you have to apply online now and - if you can't get Internet access - then it's hard to apply for the jobs. Even college applications right now are being accepted online."

Carter said that about 20% of his students at Bruns Academy don't have access to the Internet inside their homes. He knows of some teachers who still assign homework where the Internet is needed, knowing their students don't have the access.

"It's no fault of their own," Carter said, "It's just the way the curriculum is."

He told WBTV that he has adjusted how he assigns homework.

"Without Internet access, it's impossible for the students to do their homework," Carter said. "So without that impossibility - [there's] no sense in punishing the student or getting the student in trouble just because of his resources."

Royell Stockdale is in the 5th grade. He doesn't have access to a computer with Internet at his home. He believes it would benefit him if he got a connection.

"I can do more," the student said. "It'll help me in class. I can do more. I can learn more - help me study."

There is a steering committee that was formed to handle the digital divide. The hope is to get more companies on board who can offer low cost Internet service.

Everyone On Director J'Tanya Adams said they can afford to help.

"Any ISP that does not have an offering that considers all Americans and makes it accessible for all Americans should really reevaluate, because it is quite a lucrative business," Adams said.

Adams has connected with some companies who are willing to offer families a hotspot for about $10 a month. She is getting families connected one at a time.

"Knowledge should always be available," Adams said. "At everyone's fingertips, not just some."

Many people without the hookup at home go to the library for access. The library provides the free access for the community.

A forum to tackle the digital divide was supposed to happen Saturday, but was canceled due to the weather. There is no word on the new date.

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