Lack of internet access at home can heavily affect a student’s academic success in the classroom, and a teacher’s ability to work technology into their teaching. Computer ownership presents issues as well. Only seventy-two percent of Latinos have a laptop or desktop computer at home, compared with eighty-three percent of whites.
Rosa Mendoza of Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership joins Robert Traynham for a discussion about closing the digital divide and reducing the homework gap. This discussion continues in part 2 of Latinos and the Homework Gap.
Interview recorded Sept 6, 2017. Hosted by Robert Traynham. Part 1 of 2.
Read a partial transcript of this interview below:
Traynham: The PEW Research Center reports that over 50% of teachers in low-income areas say their students´ lack of online access at home presents major challenges to working technology into their classrooms every day. Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Comcast Newsmakers.” I´m Robert Traynham. With me is Rosa Mendoza. She´s the executive director of the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership. Rosa, welcome to the program.
Mendoza: Thank you for having me, Robert.
Traynham: It is good to have you here. Unfortunately, we have to start off with an unfortunate topic, as I mentioned. Here it is, 2017, and what I would call is an technology or homework gap between the living room and the classroom. How can this be?
Mendoza: It´s very unfortunate, Robert. One of our member organizations, the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, actually conducted a study not long ago, and they concluded that 80% of Latinos use their smartphone to access the Internet. As you can imagine, that´s a huge problem because that means they´re using their phones to do their homework, and there´s no way you´re going to be able to complete a homework assignment using a cellphone only.
Traynham: Absolutely. I mean, just stop and think for a moment about editing a paper, writing a term paper on your smartphone. I mean, there´s a lot of things we can do on our smartphone, but doing your homework every single evening, I´m not sure, is wise.
Traynham: It appears that teachers are struggling with this, and so Rosa, my question — and parents, I´m sure. And so my question, Rose, is how do you bridge that gap? What can we do, or what is your organization doing to help fill this need?
Mendoza: We have to make sure that every American has access to broadband at home. Reliable, affordable access. One of the things I´m currently doing is I´m working with the Federal Communications Commission. I´m part of what is called the Broadband Deployment Adviser Committee. It was a committee that was recently formed by Chairman Pai. The purpose of the committee is for us, the members, to provide information, feedback, recommendations on how to deploy broadband in a more efficient way. It´s obviously extremely important that we do that because again, there´s plenty of Americans that do not have access, and they need the access, especially in rural America.
Traynham: So, my translation, Rose, is that it´s almost as if you are the voice, the human voice, if you will, to the FCC Chairman and the commissioners to say, no, this is what the community needs, and the community needs this ASAP. How do we figure this out?
Mendoza: Right, right. That´s part of the work that we´re doing with the FCC, and it´s extremely important.
Traynham: I now want to transition to your organization, as you mentioned, and that´s the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership. What exactly do you do?
Mendoza: So, we are a coalition of 17 national organization, and our mission is to promote access, adoption, and the full utilization of technology intercommunication resources by Latinos in the U.S. We do this through advocacy and also by serving as a leading national voice for Latinos on key technology and telecommunications issues. Our member organizations are nonprofits that support the social, political, economic advancement of all Latinos in the U.S. And I´m extremely proud of the work that we do because if it wasn´t for the work that we do and our members do, Latinos would not have vital information and services that they currently have now. So it´s very, very important that we keep supporting their needs.
Traynham: The conversation is only beginning, ladies and gentlemen. Click the link below for more discussion.