THE DIGITAL DIVIDE

At a time when American students from economically deprived schools are often ill-prepared for the global and digital economy, the film “Without a Net: The Digital Divide in America,” explores how technology can provide opportunities for learning and leveling the playing field.

Aired on December 3, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> WITHOUT A NET, THE DIGITAL DIVIDE IN AMERICA NARRATED BY ACADEMY AWARD WINNER JAMIE FOXX.

THE FILM CASTS THE LIGHT ON THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM AND THE PURPORTED INEQUALITIES THAT KEEP UNDERPRIVILEGED STUDENTS SOMETIMES IN DIGITAL DARKNESS CAUSING ECONOMIC STRAIN ON OUR NATION'S YOUTH.

LET'S TAKE A LOOK.

THE RATES IS WE HAVE CODE ON A LAPTOP THAT WE CAN THEN DOWNLOAD ON TO THE BRAIN OF THE ROBOT HERE.

TODAY IN SCHOOL I DON'T THINK I WILL USE A COMPUTER AT ALL.

OUR HOPES FOR THE FUTURE ARE VERY TECHNOLOGY-DEPENDENT.

NOT HAVING INTERNET HAS BEEN DIFFICULT BECAUSE MOST EVERYTHING IS INTERNET-BASED.

SO, THERE'S A LOT MORE STRESS ON THE STUDENTS TO FIND A WAY TO ACTUALLY DO THEIR HOMEWORK.

IT'S JUST EXCITING KNOWING THAT I'M GOING TO GO TO COLLEGE.

LIKE, MY DREAM IS COMING TRUE.

WE GREW UP LIVING POOR.

WE WANT TO SEE WHAT IT'S LIKE TO HAVE A CHANCE.

I'M JOINED NOW BY THE FILM'S DIRECTOR, ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATED RORY KENNEDY.

IT'S ALWAYS NICE TO SEE YOU.

GREAT TO BE HERE.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

YOUR FATHER, THE LATE ROBERT KENNEDY WAS SO FOCUSED ON THE NOTION OF EDUCATION AND EQUALITY IN EDUCATION.

SO, WHAT DREW YOU THEN TO THIS SUBJECT FOR THIS FILM?

THANK YOU.

YOU THINK MY FAMILY HISTORY PROBABLY HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH IT FOR SURE.

MY FAMILY'S COMMITMENT TO SOCIAL EQUALITY AND PARTICULARLY AROUND ISSUES CONNECTED TO EDUCATION.

SO, I THINK IT WAS, FOR ME, A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO SHED LIGHT ON NOT JUST THE DIGITAL DIVIDE IN AMERICA BUT KIND OF THE LARGER ISSUE THAT IT SPEAKS TO AND THE INEQUALITY THAT CHILDREN, PARTICULARLY CHILDREN FROM POOR ECONOMIC BACKGROUNDS FACE.

ALSO IN THE FILM YOU LOOK AT HOW WE ARE STACKING UP, IF YOU WILL, AND HOW WE'RE APPROACHING THE DIGITAL EDUCATION WORLD IN OUR COUNTRY COMPARED TO OTHER COUNTRIES.

SO, THESE KIDS ARE BEING LEFT BEHIND.

AND WHAT WE'RE FINDING IS THAT IT NOT ONLY AFFECTS THOSE INDIVIDUAL CHILDREN AND LEAVES THEM IN THE DARK AND MAKES THEM ILL-EQUIPPED TO BECOME PART OF THE JOB CYCLE WHEN THEY GRADUATE, BUT IT'S ALSO LEAVING OUR COUNTRY BEHIND.

IF YOU LOOK AT THIS ISSUE, PEOPLE MIGHT BE TEMPTED TO TAKE A FAIRLY SIMPLISTIC APPROACH TO IT IN TERMS OF THE SOLUTIONS.

ALL WE HAVE TO DO THEN IS GET COMPUTERS IN EVERY SCHOOL, MAKE SURE EVERY KID HAS A LAPTOP AND WE'RE DONE.

THAT WILL GET US TO WHERE WE NEED TO BE.

YOU TELL AN INTERESTING STORY IN THE FILM ABOUT AAL SKOO WHERE JUST THAT HAPPENS.

TELL US ABOUT THAT STORY.

WHAT WE FOUND IS IN ORDER TO REALLY ADDRESS THE ISSUE, WE HAVE TO DO IT IN A HOLISTIC MANNER.

WHAT THAT MEANS IS WE HAVE TO GIVE THE KIDS THE EQUIPMENT, THE COMPUTERS IN OTHER WORDS, SO THAT THEY CAN WORK.

BUT YOU ALSO NEED TO MAKE SURE THEY'RE CONNECTED TO THE WIFI AND THAT THE WIFI IS ADEQUATE.

I THINK WE'VE ALL EXPERIENCED THE FRUSTRATING MOMENTS WHEN YOU GET ON THE COMPUTER AND THE LITTLE CIRCLE GOES AND THE COMPUTER WON'T WORK AND YOU WANT TO THROW THE COMPUTER OUT THE WINDOW AND THIS HAPPENS DAY IN AND DAY OUT IN THESE CLASSROOMS.

AND YOU FEEL THIS MESSAGE BEING SENT TO THESE KIDS WHICH IS, YOU KNOW, WE'RE NOT INVESTING IN YOU AND WE DON'T CARE ENOUGH FOR YOU TO BE CONNECTED.

AND SO WHAT HAPPENS IS IF THEY DON'T HAVE THAT CONNECTIVITY, THEY DON'T HAVE THE HARDWARE, AND THEN THE THIRD PIECE OF THE PUZZLE IS TEACHING THE TEACHERS AND TRAINING THEM ADEQUATELY ON THE EQUIPMENT.

LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT THAT BECAUSE I WAS STRUCK BY A PART OF THIS NARRATIVE WHERE IT SAID SOME, PERHAPS 60% OF TEACHERS, WHO WERE ASKED SAID THEY DON'T FEEL THEY HAVE THE ADEQUATE TRAINING AND THE PREPARATION TO JUMP IN AND BE ABLE TO HELP THEIR STUDENTS.

WERE YOU SURPRISED BY THAT?

I WAS.

IT WAS DISCOURAGING.

THAT'S PART OF THE REASON WHY WE MADE THIS FILM IS TO HELP PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE SCOPE OF THE PROBLEM.

AND THAT'S A BIG ISSUE.

YOU CAN IMAGINE EVEN IF YOU HAVE A COMPUTER IN THE CLASSROOM AND EVEN IF YOU HAVE WIFI, THESE TEACHERS MIGHT BE IN THEIR 50s OR 60s HAVEN'T BEEN TRAINED IN HOW TO USE THAT, ONCE YOU TRAIN THEM THERE'S HUGE OPPORTUNITIES.

I HAVE A QUESTION FOR YOU.

IN LOOKING AT THE FILM, YOU'VE CLEARLY -- AS I'VE SAID BEFORE, YOU PUT YOUR LENS, YOU FOCUSED ON THESE PROBLEMS THAT WE'RE HAVING HERE.

SO, THE QUESTION THEN BECOMES ALL RIGHT, WHAT'S THE SOLUTION?

YOU MENTIONED BEFORE MOVING FORWARD.

WHAT DO WE NEED TO BE DOING TO MOVE FORWARD SO THAT WE CAN SLINK THIS DIGITAL DIVIDE?

YEAH.

WELL, THANK YOU FOR ASKING THAT.

I THINK THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS, YOU KNOW, AND WHAT WE DO PROFILE IN THE FILM IS MODELS THAT ARE WORKING.

SO, THERE'S A RANGE OF SOLUTIONS.

SOMETIMES IT'S INNOVATION ON A COMMUNITY LEVEL FROM THE TEACHERS AND THE PARENTS AND THE SCHOOL BOARD SAYING WE'RE GOING TO INVEST IN THIS.

IT DOES COME DOWN TO MONEY IN MANY RESPECTS.

SO, GETTING THE CORPORATIONS INVOLVED, FOUNDATIONS INVOLVED AT THE LOCAL LEVEL MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE.

WE NEED OUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO SAY THIS IS A PRIORITY.

YOU HAVE CREATED A FILM THAT IS REVEALING.

IT'S TROUBLING.

AND IT'S PROVOCATIVE.

ONCE AGAIN, IT'S CALLED 'WITHOUT A NET: THE DIGITAL DIVIDE IN AMERICA.'

RORY KENNEDY, IT'S ALWAYS A PLEASURE TALKING TO YOU.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR WORK AND WE LOOK FORWARD TO TALKING TO YOU AGAIN.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

GREAT TALKING TO YOU TOO.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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