Madison City Council Should End Digital Divide In Budget


Every now and then when I sit and talk with friends we travel back over the years and discuss how much has changed in the world due to technology.   We talk about typing our resumes and making copies at a library so to be able to mail them to prospective employers we had found while job hunting in the daily newspaper.  Typing that line makes me nostalgic for my abacus.

Meanwhile today access to broadband is absolutely crucial to living in modern-day America.  If you seek employment one really needs the internet for finding and applying for jobs.  Any student who wants to get ahead in the classroom, or even stay afloat academically, needs to be online.   Having just a good sense of the world and all that takes place every day from around the city, to around the globe comes directly through being online.   Newspapers, magazines and books are great rounders and shapers for more focused understanding of the world, but the internet is ground zero as a starting point.

As such it is most important that the Madison City Council not only take up the digital divide that impacts a part of Madison, but also start funding the effort to eliminate it once and for all.  Mayor Paul Soglin has correctly stated he wants to make sure our city is doing more to prevent poverty from trapping people in it’s grip.

One of the ways to prevent more people falling into poverty is to provide funds to end the digital divide.  Without fast internet service people are more likely to be lower on the economic ladder, and also in time fall further and further behind.  The digital divide exacerbates the gap between rich and poor, and must end in Madison.

President Obama made Internet access a part of his platform when he was elected in 2008, and made sure that over $7 billion of his economic stimulus funding was directed at broadband projects. Most of it went to constructing broadband operations in rural areas.  What is needed now is to make sure that low-income urban areas such as in Madison are able to drive with everyone else on the internet expressway.

A digital divide amendment calls for $150,000 to expand Internet service to a  low-income neighborhood in Madison. The pilot program would be among the first  in the Midwest.

“We need to provide students with the educational tools to succeed in today’s  economy,” said Ald. Scott Resnick, 8th District, one of six alders to join with  Mayor Paul Soglin in sponsoring the amendment. “Relying on schools, libraries  and community centers is no longer enough. Our community should not be satisfied  that young people must rely on places like McDonald’s to check email and do  classroom homework.”

One thought on “Madison City Council Should End Digital Divide In Budget

  1. tom

    As a teacher who works in a district where all students have Ipads, I can assure you that providing “access” does little, shockingly little to improve student learning. Mostly, you turn your high school into a mighty arcade where students spent 20 times more time on Madden 25, snap chat, and candy crush than on anything remotely related to learning or thinking. This leads to foolish educational doctrines like the “student-centered” classroom which assumes that students have made or could sustain the same affirmative desire to learn that adults sometimes make.

    The educational tools needed in todays economy all depend on classic skills: reading, writing, critical thinking. Most teachers can deliver this if the school provides a textbook and some chalk. An idiot online is twice the fool.

    Internet access is not a right, but I know liberals will soon claim it is. Besides, all these kids have smart phones to access their email, LOL! There is no reason for tax-payer money to be spent here.

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