Illustration: Felicia V. Gaddis/Courier Charter Communications is offering Spectrum Internet free to K-12 and college student for 60 days in California. Image: Charter Communications
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Covid-19 has negatively affected the way lower-income students are learning, and while these students continue to fall behind due to the lack of WiFi in their homes, Charter Communications Remote Education Offer might finally be the answer to the problem as well as the answer to fixing the national academic achievement gap.

Amid Covid-19, the academic achievement gap has increased rapidly across the nation, and that is not a good thing. The academic achievement gap is a difference in progression amongst students who are more advantaged or disadvantaged than their peers. These gaps in education are seen wherever there is inequality amongst students. Right now, low-income students who lack a stable WiFi connection are greatly disadvantaged and often neglected in their online courses, resulting in a major gap of inequality in online education.

“I am concerned that, in 2020, all of our students don’t have access to technology or internet at home… I worry that, as a district, we haven’t prioritized that. And as a nation, we haven’t prioritized that,” New York City English teacher, Stephanie Paz, said in a Time Magazine article.

The article, published March 26, 2020, focuses primarily on the continually growing academic achievement gap due to COVID-19. The Article also features data from the Pew Research Center, stating that about 15% of American students lack a reliable high-speed Internet connection in their homes.

Earlier this year when PCC first announced that classes would be held primarily online, many students who already struggled with gaining internet access at home felt stressed and clueless as to how they would get through the rest of the semester.

Now, 7 months after the initial shutdown in March, it is still uncertain how long this new normal will last. On September 28 PCC students received an email confirming that the remainder of the 2020-2021 academic year will remain primarily online. This news was both sad and alarming, but not at all surprising.

The California community college system did not think right away how to accommodate individuals who lack resources. Too many students are still not equipped with a compatible device for internet use at home, nor a compatible WiFi connection. This unfortunate reality has undoubtedly caused an even bigger gap in American education.

“The pandemic has prompted a new focus on the technology divide and Charter is committed to being part of the comprehensive solution needed to close these gaps,” Charter Communications (Spectrum) Chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge said, in a statement regarding the companies free 60 day remote education offer.

The availability of Spectrum’s free 60 day remote education offer has been very helpful for low-income students, who now have the opportunity to be competitive in their academics alongside the rest of their peers.

Spectrum first introduced their remote education offer earlier this year in a Mar 13, 2020 Press Release. In Sept 21, 2020 Spectrum also announced that their free 60 day remote education offer would relaunch yet again, to provide 5G ultra-fast internet for households still in need of a reliable WiFi connection.

PCC students who did not take advantage of Spectrum’s remote education offer last semester in March have another opportunity to sign up and gain lightning fast high speed internet free for 60 days in preparation for the winter intersession.

The company also announced that their alternate internet assistance offer, Spectrum Internet Assist (SIA), also remained available for low-income households that specifically qualify for the program.

“This program is offered to households where one or more members are eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) of the NSLP or Supplemental Security Income (for applicants age 65+),” writer of The Evening Tribune Sarah Taddeo explained, in regard to the specific qualifications needed to be eligible for the SIA program.

The pandemic has made the lives of many disadvantaged students a living hell. For lower-income students who lack the technology at home to maintain a good college GPA, Spectrum’s 60 day free offer is something to take advantage of immediately.

After Spectrum found that their remote education offer was drastically helping students everywhere with their schooling during the fall semester, the company immediately began preparing for the spring semester, thus their recent relaunch of the program.

“Spectrum saw 448,000 new households sign up for the free offer between March and June,” said Taddeo, writer of The Evening Tribune.

Spectrum has made the sign-up process very easy for students to understand. Within a week after signing up, a Spectrum service team member is sent out to install a fully set high speed WiFi modem and router inside a home in need of connection.

Until more companies create, and begin to promote their own free internet plans, Spectrum’s remote education offer is just enough for the average student. To enroll for the free internet service, call the number (844) 310-1198.

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