The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Editorials

May 8, 2014

Access

The announcement of a partnership between Suddenlink and Raleigh County schools to provide cheap home Internet service to underprivileged students is welcome news on the education front.

For a two-year guaranteed rate of $9.95 per month, Suddenlink will deliver high-speed Internet in its coverage area, which is most of the county. Included will be free installation and a free modem.

“This is the great equalizer across the county for all of our children,” Raleigh Board of Education President Rick Snuffer said. “Technology is one of the guaranteed things we have at being able to equalize from poverty.

“It just won’t be something for the children,” Snuffer said. “It will be something for the whole family.”

The partnership program is called Connect2Compete — Everyone’s On.

The county school district will use qualification for the free lunch program to determine which families are eligible for the Internet deal.

Raleigh Schools Superintendent Jim Brown said he worked on the project with Suddenlink for two years.

“We know there are certain families who have the capacity to provide iPads, iPhones and other technologies to their children, but that’s not always the case,” said Brown. “This (C2C) is the next step in being able to provide Internet wireless access in the home.”

Michael Keleman, Suddenlink director of government relations for the Atlantic region, said Raleigh County was chosen for the flagship program because of the iRaleigh Initiative, which placed iPads with every third through 12th grader in the district.

“When we looked at where we wanted a trial for doing this, Raleigh County stood out because of the iPad initiative that’s been taken here,” said Keleman. “We’re pleased to launch it here in Raleigh County first, and we plan on adding additional school districts in the next school year.”

Internet access at home was a limiting aspect in the first year of the iRaleigh iPad initiative. Teachers, quite rightly, were reluctant to assign homework on the iPads since some students did not have Internet access to do the work.

We assume that some teachers and parents found it frustrating that the full power of the iPads was only being tapped into during school time.

We also think the iPad would have been even more effective were teachers able to make assignments to be done during the snow days we had last winter.

Still by increasing the proportion of Raleigh County homes that have Internet access, we think the iPad initiative will fulfill even more of its potential in the next school year.

At the risk of alienating some of our youngest readers, we want to be clear: Yes, we’re advocating that you get more homework.

And we also want to thank Suddenlink for stepping up for Raleigh County education in a big way.

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