Letter: High-quality broadband vital to remote learning

Daily Freeman-8 months before

Many of us in Ulster County have observed our school-age children and college students, or have been listening to neighbors and friends weigh in on how their kids have fared the past two months amid the abrupt, COVID-forced distance learning.

...virus">COVID Some students — mostly independent, highly motivated learners — have prospered academically. Others, whose skills and inclinations suggest they need social and supportive arrangements in schools to succeed, might have struggled with the online lessons our admirable educators have created in short order.

Nationally, we’re having critical debates about the extent to which online learning can or should be woven into future K-12 classes and about the tuition that colleges should charge for off-campus semesters.

These debates are moot for the many families whose neighborhoods and regions are poorly served by broadband internet service. Students without a quality internet connection are doomed to fall behind their more privileged peers.

Fortunately, Ulster County has been well-served by its state and congressional representatives, who have worked diligently to use the power of government to bring broadband to our underserved, often rural areas. State Sen. Jen Metzger, D-Rosendale, has introduced a bill (S5696A) that would require the New York Public Service Commission to “study the availability, affordability and reliability of high-speed internet and broadband access in New York state and produce a detailed access map on its website that indicates internet service by location.” Another would require the commission to be a more effective watchdog of internet providers, especially those with monopolies, to ensure they meet required standards.

U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, successfully pressed the Federal Communications Commission to direct federal funding to Ulster County for broadband after it initially deemed the county unqualified.

Metzger and Delgado are examples of elected representatives who have kept their promises to improve the lives of the people who elected them.

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