Closing the digital divide for Virginia students

9:20 PM, Dec 2, 2013   |    comments
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FAIRFAX, Va. (WUSA9) -- Online textbooks are a growing trend in local school systems, but what if the students do not have an internet connection at home? 

One local lawmaker says kids without an internet connection are being left behind. Del. Scott Surovell (D-44) has proposed a new law that he says would fix this digital divide in Virginia.

Surovell was made aware of the problem as he watched his own children read and work problems from their Fairfax County online text books. He saw that there was so much more than just reading. There was interaction and immediate feedback. He says children without internet connections and computers at home are not being giving the same materials and opportunity.

One such child he saw at a disadvantage was 12-year-old Janetzy Marisco, who was on the soccer team he coached last year. This year, Janetzy's father, who works construction, decided they'd cut other necessities out to buy an internet connection for $35 a month.

"She needs it to do her homework, and that's important," said Juan Marisco. They live in a large mobile home community off of Route One in the Mt. Vernon district of Fairfax County, where the school system has been increasing the number of on line textbooks it's students use.


FCPS does provide hard text books for students who need them, but Surovell says printed books cannot compete with the interaction and immediate feedback the online versions offer. 

Janetzy says it's worth it. She says the students with the higher grades are all the ones who do use the on line text books. She says it's because the better students are able to learn more because of the internet tools made available by Fairfax County Schools.

"It's not fair," that the children who can't afford internet connection don't have the same opportunity to access materials.

Surovell's legislation, which has been revised, would now require that Virginia School systems adopt a plan by 2017, to ensure that all students have both a computer at home, and internet access.

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