Once again we see our local community struggling to meet the demands of supporting digital education in the 21st century. This not only affects K-12 education, but also post-secondary institutions of education that require students to attend classes online. If investments were made to expand internet access in rural America, it would result in increased opportunities for our community. It affords our students equity in the classroom, and it provides the ability for our local workforce to be better trained and more accessible.
President Eisenhower understood the importance of transcontinental transportation and funded the interstate highway system. We need the same “big plan” to expand our information superhighway to communities that have been left behind. We can see this need more than ever while we struggle to provide educational services.
As someone who has worked over the last 20 years trying to improve internet access for schools in Southeast Ohio, we find ourselves in endless meetings with lawmakers communicating the importance of providing internet to students who live without it. Now more than ever, they have been exposed to the severity of the problem. That’s why we need to “Think Big” when it comes to an infrastructure bill and include investments in internet infrastructure for rural communities.
In the 21st century, the infrastructure needed to provide adequate internet to our communities can be argued as equally important as the infrastructure needed to deliver electricity, water, and transportation. As lawmakers debate a national infrastructure bill, it is time they view internet access as a critical component of the national infrastructure, especially as we continue to move forward through the pandemic.
I think President Eisenhower would have understood the immense benefit of expanding our information superhighway system to the public.
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