Texas Governor Calls for Affordable Broadband in Every School District

Gov. Greg Abbott has an action plan and has asked for a study on school broadband.

by Julie Chang, Austin American-Statesman / March 11, 2016

(TNS) — Gov. Greg Abbott announced an initiative Thursday that will attempt to bring affordable broadband Internet access to all school districts in the state.

EducationSuperHighway, a non-profit, has partnered with the state to create an action plan to improve access. Network experts from the non-profit also will work with nearly 1,000 schools that currently lack access to high-speed fiber.

"Learning is no longer limited by bricks and mortar — it is expanded exponentially by bytes and bandwidth," Abbott said in a news release. "Expanding technology in our classrooms will allow the state of Texas to meet future workforce needs, help teachers build a pipeline of qualified graduates, and support our students in their efforts to learn without limits. Every single child deserves access to quality education, and with the expanded use of technology in the classroom, that opportunity will be available to all Texas students."

The non-profit will work with the Texas Education Agency and its regional service centers and Internet providers to create the action plan.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has also charged the Senate Education Committee to study broadband access in school districts before the 2017 legislative session and make recommendations on a statewide plan to build necessary infrastructure for broadband access.

According to a recent survey of 1,223 Texas public school districts by the Texas Education Agency, only 26 percent of campuses met target connectivity to the Internet. Rural campuses tended to have slower speeds than their urban peers. Those with lower speeds point to not having necessary funds to build better infrastructure.

Of the 60 school districts in Central Texas, 59 percent of campuses reported they did not have target Internet connectivity. The region, which is made up of mostly rural school districts, fared better than most of the state.

©2016 Austin American-Statesman, Texas, distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.