With Texas public schools closed for at least the next month, whether a student has reliable internet access at home is becoming even more critical. Unfortunately, millions of Texans lack reliable broadband access.
Statewide, 2 million Texans do not have access to a high-speed broadband connection. This lack of access hits rural Texas especially hard — almost a third of rural Texans do not have high-speed access — but it also affects many low-income families in urban areas. In fact, five major Texas cities — Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, and Corpus Christi — rank among the top 25 large U.S. cities with the “worst connections,” according to census data. And statewide, Texas ranks just 38th in broadband adoption among the states, with 35 percent of Texas households not subscribing to fixed internet.
Broadband service has become a gateway to opportunity. It creates and nourishes thriving economies in the 21st century, just as rural electrification projects and Farm-to-Market roads did in the 20th century. And in this crisis, it’s also a gateway to the education that Texas students need.
Much of the instruction that students would normally receive inside of school buildings has shifted online during the COVID-19 crisis. Students are not only getting their assignments online, but many parents are using online educational programs to keep their children busy.