Maryland learners must bridge the digital divide – Maryland issues
Maryland is ranked The third Nationwide for awesome broadband access 86% of households Compared to 83% of the whole country, I subscribe to the Internet. Yet, according to the results of the American Community Survey 2018 Announced by the US Census Bureau, 206,151 households in Maryland are not yet available for Internet service. The digital divide, a permanent gap in access to the Internet and to low-cost, high-speed devices, is impacting their education plans and potentially their lives.
The economic and educational impact of the pandemic has increased the urgency and increased the stakes to allow 100% of the population to access high-speed Internet. Overview Its $ 2.3 trillion infrastructure spending proposal requires affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband to be successful at work, school, and healthcare. Biden has earmarked $ 100 billion in his U.S. Jobs Plan to ensure broadband infrastructure is seen as essential to clean, safe drinking water and electricity.
Maryland’s commendable broadband rankings are the result of years of effort and attention to the digital divide by the Maryland Broadband Cooperative, the Maryland Information Technology Department, and the Regional Broadband Bureaus of the Maryland Housing Community Development Department. ..
In addition to this good work, Governor Larry Hogan announced that he will spend $ 300 million of the state’s $ 3.9 billion federal incentive to expand its broadband infrastructure. This includes connecting remote households, increasing internet speeds, and providing financial assistance to people living in low-income communities. It is estimated that more than 567,000 people and approximately 67,000 households will be able to connect to the Internet under this plan.
Investing in broadband is an investment in Maryland’s post-pandemic economic recovery, educating its employees and strengthening Maryland’s growing industries such as business, healthcare, and IT over the next several years. Make. Maryland is gradually regaining unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the unemployment rate in February (6.2%) is still high, the same as the national average and the same as last year.
Access to education is essential for adults whose dreams include higher education and for adults who need to re-qualify to increase their chances of finding a job. Access to online education is of particular importance during a pandemic. One of the fastest growing fields of higher education In the USA.
To apply for a job or take an online education program, unemployed or underemployed adults need immediate access to low-cost devices and broadband. Federal, state and municipal initiatives Expanding broadband access can help, but holistic solutions are best found by combining the efforts of the private and public sectors.
In August, Western Governor’s University Million dollar scholarship program Allow high-speed internet access and devices for students who do not have these resources. The Online Access Fellowship program is part of a larger WGU initiative to work with policymakers, donors and the private sector to break the digital divide. This will allow prospective Maryland students to begin a life-changing study program while strengthening the state’s economy.
All Marylanders need fair access to high-speed broadband as they head into the post-COVID recovery period. It is an investment in our neighbors, our families and our neighborhoods. It is an investment in a pool of labor and talent that supports local businesses and economies. This solution is multifaceted and requires influential people, from policy makers and funders to leaders of the private sector.
Lack of broadband access cannot afford to act as a barrier between individuals and learning opportunities, or between the talent pools needed for businesses and states to thrive and grow.
To move forward in the landscape transformed by COVID-19, we must all work together to raise the academic and economic bar in Maryland.
–REBECCA L. WATTS
Reiter is the Regional Vice President of Western Governors University, an accredited, nonprofit competency-based learning university with more than 1,600 students and 2,770 graduates in Maryland. He holds a doctorate in leadership in higher education from Ohio University.