Dec 1, 2018

The Homework Divide: 12 million schoolchildren lack internet

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

The new relocation test: Jobs for spouses

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The rise of dual-career couples has contributed to lower mobility rates between cities and has made it harder to recruit workers to smaller job markets.

Why it matters: Moving to a different town for a job opportunity was more common when most households had one primary earner. Now that the majority of households rely on two incomes, relocating requires finding two good jobs instead of one — a much harder proposition for many couples.

Go deeperArrowDec 31, 2019

Electric school buses are batteries for the grid

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Utility companies are helping cash-strapped school districts replace diesel buses with electric ones that have a secondary purpose: helping to manage electricity demand.

Why it matters: Electric buses are cleaner, but cost about three times more. Using them for energy storage can help close that cost gap and smooth out energy demand on the electric grid.

Go deeperArrowJan 10, 2020

Fitness trackers are more popular with women than men

A Fitbit fitness tracker. Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images for Fitbit

About one-in-five American adults use a smart watch or fitness tracker, with women more likely than men to use a fitness device, according to new research from Pew.

Why it matters: The category is still in its early days, and understanding who uses the products and who doesn't could help the industry improve its products and broaden their appeal.

Go deeperArrowJan 13, 2020