Rural areas hit hardest by the pandemic need access to reliable, high-speed Internet
As Texas leadership botches our state’s COVID response and cases skyrocket, anxieties around distance learning are growing in the Rio Grande Valley’s low-income colonias, where access to broadband Internet is scarce.
Colonia parents see the fall school year on the horizon and worry that their children will fall behind in their studies because they don’t have adequate Internet.
Two of the regions with the lowest rates of broadband Internet in the U.S. are in the Rio Grande Valley. That’s largely due to colonias being left out of the expansion of broadband infrastructure.
We know that RGV leaders recognize that the Valley has a problem with access to Internet. We also know that if colonia residents are left out of the decision-making process, they will be left out of the solutions that politicians and county officials propose.
That is why we launched a campaign to bring accessible, high-speed Internet to RGV colonias. We are collecting signatures from colonia residents throughout the Valley to show elected officials that we are serious about winning Internet for our neighborhoods.
We don’t know exactly what the solutions to bringing high-speed, affordable Internet to colonias will be. When we launched our colonias streetlights campaign more than a decade ago, we didn’t know exactly what the solution would be then either. But colonia residents organized and did not take ‘no’ for an answer. We passed state legislation, met with hundreds of colonia residents, and, with their input, drew up a plan that would eventually become Hidalgo County’s streetlights program.
We know we can do this. The road might be long, but that’s just means we have to start now.
As school districts consider extending distance learning into the fall, colonia residents urgently need access to high-speed, affordable internet in order to help their kids do well in school.