With school starting remotely around the country, 15 million students still don’t have broadband internet at home. On Wednesday, August 26, people across the country gathered in the streets and online to demand that the Federal Communications Commission and internet companies provide these children with the tools they need to access their digital lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Using the hashtags #LoggedOut and #InternetForAll, actions popped up in major U.S. cities, with speeches, marches and a digital campaign to get FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s attention.
Action on the Ground
Brightbeam activist Tanesha Peeples led a group of students to march in Chicago to demand that the FCC provide no-strings-attached internet to all families.
Their message is simple: Stop it with the red tape, Comcast, and make all families eligible for the company’s Chicago-based internet options for low-income families.
“It’s like punishing the children for whatever was going on with the parents,” said parent Nailah Stevenson to Block Club Chicago. “The kids have nothing to do with the account the parents may have had. They need the internet.”
EdLanta’s Jason Allen hosted a roundtable discussion on the importance of #InternetForAll on Facebook Live, including elected school board members and one of Allen’s own students.
Great School Voices’ Dirk Tillotson hosted a special edition of his ongoing series, “Access Denied,” with a look at how city and school leaders in Oakland are closing the digital divide and providing internet to all families. Joining Tillotson was an all-star team of the city’s leaders, including Oakland Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell, school board members Jumoke Hinton Hodge and James Harris, Mayor Libby Schaaf’s director of education David Silver, and City Councilman Loren Taylor.
Activist and educator Zachary Wright joined fellow Philadelphians to protest in front of Comcast’s headquarters, to demand that they go further to expand service.
As a result of actions by folks like Wright and company, Philadelphia residents now have a hotline to call to get set up with the public-private PHLConnectED program to get their kids learning.
The Minnesota Parents Union’s Rashad Turner and Khulia Pringle met with locals to point out how much we’re failing students when we can’t even get them online. As they declared to a crowd outside of the regional Comcast headquarters, “Free public education has to mean exactly that… free. So if schools are going online, internet needs to be free for all.”
Their efforts got them covered by local news stations, and the movement can build from this attention.
The team at Serve Your City rallied allies to ensure that the government—local, state, federal—provide for its citizens in a time of need.
D.C.-based activist Maurice Cook was profiled in the Washington Post. “We won’t accept being logged out anymore,” he said.
Families, educators, activists and policymakers have joined the #InternetForAll discussion.
Unfortunately, this problem is a long way from being solved. With Congress stalled and the FCC shirking its responsibility, the National Day of Action demanding #InternetForAll was only the beginning. There will be much more to come.