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SACRAMENTO – The Budget Center released a new report — Distance Learning & the Digital Divide — highlighting the racial and economic inequities blocking millions of K-12 students’ ability to log on and learn from their homes. 

According to the Budget Center’s new analysis of US Census Bureau data, prior to the pandemic:

  • More than 1 in 5 students in California — 1.4 million students — did not have access to a computer or high-speed internet. 
  • Black and Latinx students were more likely to lack access, nearly 3 in 10 — more than double the share of white (13%) and Asian and Pacific Islander (12%) students. 
  • Just 53% of low-income households have broadband internet, compared to 86% of higher-income households.

“The stark digital divide was hurting K-12 students in low-income households and California students of color well before the pandemic, and the shift to prolonged distance learning has likely exacerbated the existing disparities,” said Erik Saucedo, State Policy Fellow with the California Budget & Policy Center. “Policymakers in California home of the Silicon Valley   must consider targeted investments for high-speed internet and computer access to close the digital divide and strengthen opportunities for Black and brown students and those in low-income households.”

Policymakers can carefully target resources for students most affected by the pandemic. This also includes more data collection to better identify gaps in access and to ensure Black, Latinx, English language learners, and low-income students have the resources they need to learn.

Read the full report here:  


The California Budget & Policy Center engages in independent fiscal and policy analysis and public education with the goal of improving public policies affecting the economic and social well-being of Californians with low and middle incomes. Support for the Budget Center comes from foundation grants, subscriptions, and individual contributions.

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Kyra Moeller
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