Near the shore of the murky Salton Sea in this southern California desert, a bus drives up to West Shores High School each day with a critical connection: A Wi-Fi router mounted behind an interior mirror, providing Internet access for students whose homes aren’t wired.
At night, the bus driver parks on a sand driveway in a trailer park. There, the hotspot is available to students as long as the battery lasts. On most nights, it fades after one hour.
“I had kids sitting outside my office yesterday because they want to connect to the Internet at, like, 6 o’clock at night,” said Darryl Adams, superintendent of schools of the Coachella Valley Unified District.
Unlike the wired and wealthy Silicon Valley in northern California, many homes in the former resort town, about 65 miles north of the Mexican border do not have high-speed Internet. The school bus Wi-Fi program the district started this fall is one example of how a poor and underserved community is trying to help students get better connected.
President Barack Obama mentioned the district’s efforts in a in a recent speech in Washington, D.C. , calling the effort “really smart. You’ve got underutilized resources — buses in the evening — so you put the routers on, disperse them, and suddenly everybody is connected.” <Read more.>