A viral photo of two California girls forced to use Taco Bell WiFi to do their homework spotlighted the disadvantages faced by low-income families as many school districts move online.
California Senate President Kevin de León tweeted a photo of the two last week, noting that 40 percent of Latinos lack reliable Internet access.
“This is California, home to Silicon Valley … but where the digital divide is as deep as ever,” León tweeted.
Two students sit outside a Taco Bell to use Wi-Fi so they can ‘go to school’ online.
This is California, home to Silicon Valley…but where the digital divide is as deep as ever.
Where 40% of all Latinos don’t have internet access. This generation deserves better. pic.twitter.com/iJPXvcxsLQ
— Kevin de Leόn (@kdeleon) August 28, 2020
“The digital divide is very real, and delays in receiving needed technology are a statewide concern, we are grateful the state is making technology a priority and look forward to receiving these hotspots in our district,” Amy Ish, president of the Salinas City Elementary School District’s board of education told NBC News. The district told NBC News it was able to get wireless hot spots for the family after the photo circulated.
A crowdfunding campaign later raised more than $115,000 for the family after Jackie Lopez, a local woman, reached out to the girls’ mother, a migrant worker.
“I asked her if I could get her girls a desk for distant learning and she mentioned there was no space in their home for that,” Lopez wrote on the GoFundMe page for the fundraiser. “She then said she shared a small bedroom with her 3 girls in the home she was living in.”
“All children deserve a happy place to live and because of their dedication, these little girls deserve a safe space to learn,” Lopez wrote. “We appreciate every single one of you for helping making that happen.”