The great debate over whether or not access to the internet is a luxury or a utility is over since the pandemic came the US. Those arguing that the world wide web is for entertainment purposes only (from streaming services, to social media sites, to the myriad of conveniences it offers) had little leg to stand on when millions of people nation wide were asked to adjust to working from home. This included communication via email and access to conference platforms like Zoom. Teachers had to pivot to create virtual lesson plans and classrooms; classrooms students could only access through their home's internet.

According to an article from MLive, 14% of households in Michigan are without internet. This isn't just due to lack of access. These are households that simply cannot afford the service. With questions looming about what the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year will look like for students in unconnected households, Kalamazoo's Foundation for Excellence has developed the Digital Access for All partnership which will allocate $200,000 to provide free internet and equipment to 1,000 homes of Kalamazoo Public School students.

This decision is a game changer. Providing internet access to students levels the playing field. Recent years have proven that access to the internet and the ability to regularly check email is just as essential to a child's education as a textbook and a #2 pencil. This Digital Access for All initiative is just one more way our city is stepping up to help our children get the education they need and the education they deserve.

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