Any parent with a child in school today knows that homework seldom involves a pen and paper these days. A computer and high-speed Internet are the tools needed by 21st century students.
But students in rural Minnesota often don't have access to high-speed Internet, hampering them from turning homework in on-time or completing college scholarship applications by crucial due dates.
On Tuesday, a group of DFL lawmakers pressed their case for the state to increase its investment in broadband infrastructure improvement, pointing to the inequities experienced by many Minnesota schoolchildren as a result of slow - or no - Internet connections.
"We’ve made tremendous progress in both the 2013 and 2014 sessions to improve equity in education for our schools and students in Greater Minnesota,” said Rep. Paul Marquart (DFL-Dilworth) “By equipping our rural communities with high-speed internet, students and teachers will be able to access the latest online educational content, communication and information resources. This is going to help us build the World’s Best Workforce and compete in a global economy.”
Students from Mora High School said poor Internet connection frequently poses challenges for them.
Senior Michael Greenberg said he has a friend who often makes a 60-mile round trip to his house to use his Internet to turn in school work.
"It really shouldn't take an hours worth of driving and the cost of gas to do homework," he said.
The House has passed a supplemental budget that includes a $25 million investment in broadband development.
House lawmakers have also included $5 million in additional telecommunications aid to help Minnesota school districts pay for their telecommunications and internet access costs. A House and Senate conference committee is scheduled to meet this week to discuss the supplemental budget bill.
Mora Senior Cassidy Carlisle talks about problems students face because of poor Internet service