Tackling the 'Homework Gap': Maryland County to Expand FiberNet Infrastructure, Forge Public-Private Partnerships

In Montgomery County (MD), public officials are assembling an arsenal of technology fixes to address the “homework gap,” the technology deficit that leaves some kids lacking the network access and devices they need to complete their schoolwork. “The Internet and broadband and cloud communications are integral to our society — our businesses, our neighborhoods, our personal lives," said Mitsuko R. Herrera, director of the ultraMontgomery Program in the county’s Department of Technology Services. "So the schools are developing curricula that are heavily Internet-based.” Citing research that shows some 70 percent of teachers assign homework that requires access to broadband, Herrera said not all students have an equal ability to tackle such assignments. “Some students have a robust Internet connection and a computer, but other students either have no connection at home, or they may be relying on a sibling’s smartphone, or they may do their homework at McDonald’s,” she said. “The county wants to ensure that all children have access to the Internet in order to further their education.”

The county is chasing that goal with a number of different means, forging partnerships with private industry while also leveraging its own existing fiber backbone. The county’s FiberNet infrastructure connects all public schools, libraries and government buildings — over 560 sites in all — making it the front line of broadband delivery for students who can’t access the Internet for schoolwork at home.


Tackling the 'Homework Gap': Maryland County to Expand FiberNet Infrastructure, Forge Public-Private Partnerships