Bridge Michigan recently ran a story about a family in Montcalm County trying to cope with the digital divide in Michigan. The family does not have access to broadband internet and is relying on a Verizon WiFi hotspot and school-issued Chromebooks to connect five children to their online schooling.

Public Policy Associates, Inc. (PPA) has been researching the digital divide and equitable access to digital technologies throughout the pandemic. In April, PPA published “Digital Inequities and Disparities Technology Access for Michigan Students,” which looked access to digital technologies in Michigan. Dan Quinn, PPA’s director for education policy, is quoted in the Bridge story, and this research by PPA is highlighted.

PPA’s research  used data from the 2018 American Community Survey (ACS), and found that 419,000 school-aged children in Michigan lack access to both a device and broadband. PPA’s researchers consider access to both a necessity for remote learning. The gap in Michigan is especially bad for rural and urban students. The gap among rural areas in Michigan is twice the national average.

In October, the National Education Association published a PPA report that looked at “Digital Equity for Students and Teachers” in every state. The report estimated that 13.5 million children across the United States lack full access to digital technologies sufficient enough to access school remotely. The gap is likely higher as the ACS does not collect information on device quality or the number of devices available for each child in a household.

PPA’s research was also recently included in a policy brief produced by the Education Commission of the States (ECS), a national nonprofit that tracks education policy across the country.

For questions about PPA’s reports addressing the digital divide, please contact the authors, Dr. Nathan Burroughs via email at or Dr. Daniel J. Quinn at For more information about PPA’s work in K-12 education, please contact Dr. Quinn by phone at (202) 854-8077.