My next door neighbor is 11 years old. He has basically dropped out of middle school. Even before covid-19 he was constantly truant. Now that school has moved to online, he doesn't attend at all. His math teacher e-mailed me (I had previously contacted her to get a copy of his curriculum) and asked if he had access to a computer and WiFi because he hadn't attended a single online Zoom session. I assured her he did as I could hear him playing Fortnite all hours of the night. He often comes over for snacks at 10 pm. I ask whether he's had dinner and he claims his mom doesn't make dinner until 12 or 1 am. I ask what time he goes to bed and he replies "7 or 8 am". I've tried to motivate him to do Khan Academy courses for rewards, but his mom always undermines me. For example, I promised to buy him a Dragonball Z game if he completed the 6th grade math module on exponents. Half-way through the course he announced his mom bought him the game and he lost all motivation to continue. Even money doesn't seem to have much effect unless there is something he currently wants to buy. This happens every time though - his mom doesn't encourage school at all. She can't help him because (I'm pretty sure) she dropped out herself. There's no dad in the picture, and any motivation I try to use to get him to learn stuff gets instantly gratified by his mom.
So basically, we have this kid with an inverted sleep schedule who is years behind his peers, has access to everything he needs to be successful, except parents who care about his future, and thus he is on a trajectory to fail.
Very nearly everyone in, around, or who has even remotely studied the field knows that social context (which includes but is not limited to parents) is the biggest issue for these kids in general. That's not even remotely controversial.
But, aside from the fact that most of that is outside of the scope of school district authority to address, the WiFi busses aren't even in theory about fixing their general long-term issues, but are to mitigate the degree to which the gap gets worse as schools temporarily switch to online instruction due to COVID-19. The second-hand article currently linked as the main one for HN doesn't make this explicit, but the one that it links as it's source does: https://www.routefifty.com/tech-data/2020/05/buses-wifi-broa...
As another anecdote, my wife grew up in a poor housing estate in central Scotland, in a household with bad parents and some domestic violence. There was a fair bit of violence and drugs in the area too.
Almost everyone in the area was claiming at least some kind of benefit, and benefit fraud was absolutely rife.
I got to know the extended family quite well over time. Almost every parent seemed determined to continue the cycle of poverty, and pushed their children to sign up for a council house as soon as they were 16. Fraudulent tactics were often used to get their kids further up the waiting list, or to get their kids into newer/better housing once they had a house. One father set fire to his daughter's house with the hope she'd be moved into a better house. Another smashed in the windows of his son's house, so they could claim he was in danger from imaginary drug dealers in the area.
My wife (and indeed her brother) were however determined to get a decent education and do better, in spite of their parents.
She applied to university, but her mother hid the acceptance letter and tried to push her into a crappy low/paid job and a council house.
Thankfully my wife came across the letter my chance, and her life has been very different from that of her parents.
If Bob and Ted start at the same point, and Bob becomes more successful than Ted, Ted will try to undermine Bob's success. The reason is Ted blames circumstance for his failure, and Bob's success makes it hard for Ted to blame circumstance. By undermining Bob's success, Ted can comfortably continue to blame circumstance.
For instance, I'm recently married and the wife and I are looking into starting a family. My co-workers know we want kids, and while about 75% are supportive, there's a couple who have marital/family issues who feed me a daily stream of [insert story about how messed up their marriage/kids are] followed by "so, you sure you still want kids?" in a half-serious tone.
It's a minor annoyance and I just commiserate with the miserable story and laugh it off. But, while I know I'm not supposed to judge as a non-parent there's a few glaringly, blindingly obvious failures of well-intentioned but horribly executed parenting/marriage handling in these stories that set my teeth on edge. Stuff even my parents for all their weaknesses would never have done. When I try to politely nudge back on some of the more egregious points I just get ignored and they keep talking, even when I'm backed up by one of the parents in my team. They seem convinced that they're doing everything the best way it could possibly be done and there's no behavior change on their part that could make it better. On a possibly related note, they're also the team members with the worst health and some of the messiest (if technically functional) code I've ever read. I always wondered where that mentality came from, reading this thread has shed some light on that, given what I know about how they grew up.
this seems pretty entitled / clasist in this particular context - many in 'the white-collar upper middle class' are precisely the ones with arguments against having families out of personal preference and those most visibly displaying their preference for other lifestyle choices (after all, if one can afford retirement, one doesn't need a family to support them)
And come to think of it the financial reasons you mention (retirement) is probably one contributing factor from a cultural perspective. If you lack the independent wealth to look after your own interests then you must naturally pool resources with others. If others leave/do their own thing/do better than you that's saying, in a sense, that they don't want to pool resources with you, even if you'd reciprocate. That feeling probably sucks.
On the other hand if you're well off enough on your own, someone going off and doing their own thing/striving for better isn't a rejection or a denial of needed resources. So it can be supported, event celebrated.
Once again, painting with broad strokes. It is possible to point out trends without saying that everyone in a given group subscribes to said trend.
And in the US, low income and high income volatility go hand in hand. You can have your hours reduced or shifted at any time, your industry can get outsourced or automated, you may be deemed to be too old or expensive.
No one is happy with volatility, and no one today should expect to go to work and punch in and out for 30 years, especially if you’re on the lower end of the pay scale. You should be looking out for better opportunities all the time, lest your cash flow suddenly stops.
No, not necessarily. But at least where my wife grew up in the Scottish central belt, I think that would be the exception rather than the rule - and by a pretty wide margin.
I think a lack of education played a big part in that, but the most disappointing and frightening thing was that so many parents expected - almost bred - their children to repeat the same cycle of limited education, poverty, benefit fraud, crime, drugs and violence.
Very simply, that Family doesn’t consider a university education to be “better” for their kid, they consider it to be worse.
Conversely, there are also poor people that still care about education and use what they have to push their kids to succeed.
In the late 1990s, I lived near an apartment block with many Vietnamese immigrants who were poor (worked at min. wage or below in asian restaurants for crazy long hours), knew very little English, and they had almost no stuff since they arrived with a few suitcases. Despite this, most of their kids ended up graduating, and those who got scholarships went to community college or state college and those that couldn’t got jobs to support their families. These kids had few resources, but they had a work ethic. They had a lot of responsibility from a young age.
The neighbors of those kids whose parents were poor and already Americans (raised here) - those kids turned out more like your neighbor. Zero motivation, zero responsibility, parents gave such little of a shit about everything, dropped out of school, and held random min. wage jobs in brief spurts until they would get fired for no-showing.
Idk...it was such a jarring contrast to see. Both groups started poor from the same place, yet one group turned themselves into something and the other group just already gave up without even trying.
This is barely the third generation since the civil rights act was implemented, and social change takes far longer than that.
At some point, the goal stops being growth and turns to survival.
This isn't a "model minority good/underperforming ones deserve their suffering" sort of one but to point out that just repeated gain destruction and even discrimination and stigma aren't foregone doom.
The result was no change. It turned out that the actual cause wasn’t books, it was parents who would value books enough to purchase them. Buying books for children whose parents hadn’t valued reading and education enough to already own some books didn’t help at all.
Taking your experience, you’ve run into a different layer of the issue. If you’ve heard about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, then you might recognize this as being an issue at the psychological level (esteem needs). It sounds like this child has their basic needs already met (not poor). So your anecdote provides a useful data point but doesn’t disprove the need to solve for the problem of basic needs.
A lot of people are trying to tackle the resource need simply because it would have the largest visible impact. However, it would be really nice if the media acknowledged that the problem isn’t so simple and that this is just step 0.
Also, people have greed that can be exploited. If you want to continue your (admirable!) effort you can offer a different bribe.
Another point to note is that if the kid got halfway through the chapter on exponents, he's doing pretty well! Failure at math education means years behind, not weeks behind.
> have you tried talking to the mom directly?
I have not talked to her directly, though I'm starting to come to the same conclusion that it is necessary if I want to help her son. I'm slightly apprehensive that it might be a touchy subject though and I'm not the best at confrontation.
Maybe say that you met her son, he is a nice kid, you have some experience teaching kids and would like to help him get through the class Y. What does she think?
One step at a time, and start with a small one. My 2c.
That's an important point, not made often enough.
Still. The school district can't replace parents, but they can provide WiFi.
What is glaringly apparent to teachers at these schools is the inequity due to lack of resources (poor parents and poor school funding). Many of these kids do not have access to internet, do not have access to computers, and rely on their schools to provide them with regular meals.
Parents are not the only important part of the equation here.
Let's put it this way
1) motivated parents with poor school funding = most likely success
2) unmotivated parents with great school funding = demonstratably bad outcome
Demonstrably not true. There are plenty of people with poor parental role models who did well in school and broke the cycle.
Technology drops the threshold that the disadvantaged students have to overcome. Whereas before they needed to be lucky enough to have a great school library or transportation to the municipal libraries every time they wanted to go, now they just need internet access. Governments and schools can't do anything to give the kids motivation or better parents, but they can work on the technology angle and remove more barriers to success. There will never be a single solution to the myriad of problems facing education - this is marathon that requires solving one problem at a time.
I think it takes something special to truly break the cycle and move upwards. I don’t see many people do it. Then again, I came from one of the worst schools and towns in my state and now live in SV where everyone was a rich kid. I check Facebook to see if any alumni from my HS ever got anywhere. Nope...
How about tying child tax credits kickers to attendance and grades?
I have a friend that works as a teacher at a Title I school, and some of the students they try to help (clean clothes and shoes that fit), the parent will take the donated clothing and literally sell it for money.
The real challenge is that the tools available to is, as a society, to punish perceived injustice are very few. We have fines, prison, and social stigma. You won’t get far with fines for a person already on social assistance. Social stigma is a non-starter in our climate; she’s a single mother trying so hard for her kids! This either leaves prison (as bad of an idea as that is) or admitting that we have not criminalized bad parenting and some people will absolutely RUIN their kids’ lives.
Just giving you context because it’s easy to roll your eyes at someone (“that dummy wants to send her to prison lol”) when I believe there is a deeper explanation.
In some ways, we do have a punishment system for parents with truant children, but it’s very hard to thread a line that’s actually good for the children. You want to scare the parents with punishment if they don’t have any intrinsic (or social) interest in educating their children, but actually jailing parents won’t help most kids one bit.
(Unfortunately this idea wouldn't work, since many of the slapped parents would doubtlessly slap their kids in retaliation.)
Just give them cheap cellular-equipped laptops instead. Take advantage of the networks that are already in place - no wifi necessary.
One phone can serve multiple nearby devices.
I agree with the suggestion that using the cellular network is the way to go, I just think that turning that cellular data into WiFi will allow more devices to connect, and more freedom in how people choose to use their connection. So I would suggest portable cellular-to-WiFi routers rather than building the cellular connection into a laptop.
(Other than for consistency: a publisher should have a style guide entry on it, but it doesn't bother me what they choose.)
But over time, you end up with something like "Open Source Big Data products delivered over the Internet" which gets pretty silly or you have hyphens all over the place which look pretty ugly. Where I work, our style is to generally eliminate both whenever possible.
I guess WiFi is properly Wi-Fi but hardly anyone uses that these days.
> or 'Internet' or 'internet'?
This, too, would help with the learn-to-code movement (a skills gap that I consider essential to close). This could have far-reaching effects and do wonders to lift the next generation of poor out of poverty and into more lucrative white collar jobs.
It appears that it is not an issue that's unique to the US, but common in the "old" Western democracies. Friends tell me it's not much different in rural Spain and France.
There's really no excuse for the state of broadband and cell coverage in your country. I lived two years in Mitte in Berlin, and I couldn't even make a phone call from my place! To add insult to the injury the BMVI was just around the corner; billboards about Gigabit broadband by 2025 reminded me everyday the country is 10 years behind where it could afford to be.
Now, a lot of people don't think they have "real" broadband if everyone in the household can't be streaming Netflix at 4K simultaneously without any meaningful caps or throttling.
It's possible that our definitions of "great", "good", "okay", and "a joke" are different. "Good" in the US is 50mbps. "Okay" is 20mbps. "A joke" often means there's no actual hard line, and you have to use a satellite-based ISP instead.
This has been getting somewhat better by cable providers getting in on the action, but they have their own sets of challenges, like CGNAT, shared bandwidth and generally problematic contracts & customer service.
Bring more of these types of tax expenditures IMO.
A. It requires less resources for the society.
B. It is better for the kid to not exist than to end up with a miserable life. Crime statistics for poor dysfunctional households doesn't look good.
C. Overpopulation is a problem. Even if you can feed 12 billion people, at what cost. And you can already feed that many. The problem is often political and societal (stopping food waste can solve global hunger). If someone can suggest a solution, I am all ears.
D. Lower population will lead to better reforms and more attention or investment per kid. It will be easier to move forward policies and test things. Democracy won't be a bottleneck but will work for once.
> B. It is better for the kid to not exist than to end up with a miserable life. Crime statistics for poor dysfunctional households doesn't look good.
this is more a philosophical position than an objective fact, but I am inclined to agree with you. that is, if you could be certain that someone would have a terrible life, it would be better for them not to be born. the problem is the error bar on your good life vs. bad life projection. while the odds might be pretty bad for the group, individuals born in bad circumstances can and do become wealthy, achieve success in their field, and/or end up living generally happy lives.
> C. Overpopulation is a problem. Even if you can feed 12 billion people, at what cost. And you can already feed that many. The problem is often political and societal (stopping food waste can solve global hunger). If someone can suggest a solution, I am all ears.
overpopulation is not really a problem in the developed world, where birthrates tend to be at or slightly below replacement.
the real problem with this idea is who "poor irresponsible people" turn out to be in practice. I won't speak to "irresponsible", as I'm not sure what to use as a source, but minorities are disproportionately represented among the poor. it's hard to see how this wouldn't end up disproportionately preventing minority children from being born. there's also the question of how you would prevent these people from having children in the first place, without using some very dystopian methods.
So why can't US providers not do this ???.
Could anyone with more knowledge of the topic explain why mesh networking seems to be a good idea that never succeeded?
taking bus to provide wifi is expensive, an outdoor wifi node solution will be much cheaper, all you need is someone willing to share his wifi to those kids, but that might violate EULA from ISPs(that your wifi can not be shared, even if it's not for profit)
only problem is they idle the engine all day, that's dumb
I think it's a bit quick to be outraged by the bus idling all day. Give them a little time to find money and iterate.
It's been challenging even for the IT departments of technologically advanced companies to adapt to a remote workforce, so schools serving poor communities face daunting obstacles to continuity of education at the moment.
This problem is exacerbated by the existing digital divide.
As an example, I serve on the technology volunteer committee of a public school at which less than 5% of children are technically classified as being in poverty, yet the school had to lend out computers to 20% of the students. The lending program was managed by our volunteer committee so the administration and teachers could focus on ramping up the distance learning program curriculum.
So our school is one of the lucky ones. However, in the same area there are schools where 95% of the students are in poverty, and they have no volunteer committees to help solve these problems, therefore it is left to the already overstretched staff. Some of these schools actually have computers they could lend, but no community knowlege capital to draw upon to organize adapt to the situation.
Before industrialized schooling, mixed age classrooms were the norm.