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Expand chart
Data: Pew Research Center; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

About 7 in 10 teachers assign homework that requires broadband access, but nearly 1 in 3 households don't have it.

Why it matters: The "homework gap" affects 12 million U.S. school-age kids, according to the Senate Joint Economic Committee. Students with less access to digital tools are at risk of falling behind their peers who are more connected.

By the numbers:

  • 15% of households with school-age children don't have a high-speed connection at home, per Pew Research Center. That number is higher among low-income households, one-third of which lack broadband access.
  • 35% of teens say they at least sometimes rely on their cellphone to finish their homework, according to Pew. That number creeps up to 45% for teens living in households that earn less than $30,000 a year.
  • 12% of teens say they at least sometimes use public WiFi to complete homework assignments because they don't have a connection at home.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel calls the homework gap the "cruelest part of the digital divide."

"It's the most important issue of digital equality we face. It's not about indulgent surfing online, it's about teaching students how to use resources online to supplement how they find information and understand the world. We're going to harm their ability to perform jobs, the majority of which now require digital skills."
— FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel

Possible solutions: Rosenworcel has proposed using excess funds from spectrum auctions to fund initiatives to narrow the gap, like providing library loans of WiFi hot spots.

  • Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) have proposed a bill that would equip school buses with WiFi.

Go deeper

Senate retirements could attract GOP troublemakers

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Roy Blunt's retirement highlights the twin challenge facing Senate Republicans: finding good replacement candidates and avoiding a pathway for potential troublemakers to join their ranks.

Why it matters: While the midterm elections are supposed to be a boon to the party out of power, the recent run of retirements — which may not be over — is upending that assumption for the GOP in 2022.

Congressional diversity growing - slowly

Data: Brookings Institution and Pew Research Center; Note: No data on Native Americans in Congress before the 107th Congress; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The number of non-white senators and House members in the 535-seat Congress has been growing steadily in the past several decades — but representation largely lags behind the overall U.S. population.

Why it matters: Non-whites find it harder to break into the power system because of structural barriers such as the need to quit a job to campaign full time for office, as Axios reported in its latest Hard Truths Deep Dive.

Staff for retiring Senate Republicans a K Street prize

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The retirements of high-profile Senate Republicans mean a lot of experienced staffers will soon be seeking new jobs, and Washington lobbying and public affairs firms are eyeing a potential glut of top-notch talent.

Why it matters: Roy Blunt is the fifth Republican dealmaker in the Senate to announce his retirement next year. Staffers left behind who can navigate the upper chamber of Congress will be gold for the city’s influence industry.