One-fourth of LA students lack internet access

One-fourth of LA students lack internet access

The vast majority of Louisiana’s public school students- 86% – are starting the school year by learning from home at least part of the time. But 1 in 4 Louisiana households don’t have the internet access that’s required for children to learn remotely, and more than 4 in 10 lack the high-speed broadband access that lets multiple people in a home go online at the same time. | The Advocate’s Will Sentell reports

Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, Kenner and Metairie are among the eight cities in Louisiana listed on the 100 worst-connected cities in the country, according to a 2018 report done for the Census Bureau. … The state Department of Education says 99% of private school students have internet at home.

Louisiana is far from alone. The Washington Post’s Moriah Balingit calls the digital divide separating poor kids from everyone else a “national crisis” that disproportionately affects Black, Latinx and Native American children, particularly in the South. But there are ways to address the problem if Congress is willing to act. 

Education advocates say Congress could deliver an easy fix as part of a coronavirus relief package by expanding an existing program that helps schools and libraries get Internet service. But those hopes collapsed alongside talks between Congress and the White House on a new relief package. With talks deadlocked, President Trump issued an executive order for coronavirus relief. It provides nothing for K-12 public schools. The consequences of the gap between those who have access to virtual learning and those who do not could be felt for years to come. 


Housing, race and Covid-19
It’s well known by now that Black people, in Louisiana and elsewhere, are more likely to be infected by the novel coronavirus and more likely to die from the resulting symptoms than white people. Centuries of racially discriminatory policy laid the foundation for the virus’s disparate impacts. But there is still considerable debate about the precise reasons for the disparity. Katy Reckdahl, writing for | The Advocate, says housing patterns may play a significant role: 

A glance at maps of coronavirus cases in New Orleans underscores that the virus has not struck evenly. Residential housing patterns may be part of the answer — that is, Black households are more likely to be larger, with multiple generations under one roof, and they are more likely to include “essential workers.” They are also more likely to be located in the sorts of segregated, working-class neighborhoods that (Thomas) LaVeist (of the Tulane School of Public Health) described for his hypothetical “patient zero.”


Post office politics in Louisiana
The U.S. House is returning to the Capitol from its annual August vacation in an effort to block the changes at the U.S. Postal Service that are slowing down mail delivery and could undermine confidence in the November election results by making it harder to ensure that people who vote by mail have their ballots counted. | The Advocate’s Tyler Bridges notes that Louisiana is among the handful of states that still does not allow universal mail-in balloting, but that the problems that have been reported across the country are also happening in the Pelican State: 

Leroy Chapman, president of the American Postal Workers Union’s New Orleans local, said mail delivery in New Orleans has slackened because postal officials have removed five of the 14 high-speed mail processing machines at the Loyola Avenue hub. … In Baton Rouge Friday, frustrated residents stood in a line that snaked out the door of the Istrouma Post Office on Longfellow Drive, waiting to speak to the lone employee standing at the desk.


The president’s secret weapon
President Donald Trump’s haphazard, seat-of-the-pants governing style, where major initiatives are announced on Twitter with little foresight and often quickly abandoned, comes with serious costs that are hard to document: the time and effort it takes to respond and react to ideas that often go nowhere. University of Massachusetts Professor Paul Musgrave, writing in The Washington Post, calls this Trump’s secret weapon:   

And those most affected are often those who are the most vulnerable. Sophisticates dismiss the administration’s strategy of raising issues that can’t go anywhere, like the president’s repeated musings about eliminating birthright citizenship, as scare tactics. But that underrates how frightening it is to be threatened by an immensely powerful government. 


Number of the Day
58 – Number of Black women promoted to manager for every 100 men, even though Black women ask for promotions at the same rate as men (Source: Lean In)