We stand at a time that has seen an explosion of not only information but of knowledge and consciousness fueled by the rapid expansion of the Internet.
West Virginia received two federal grants worth around $130 million in February to increase broadband access across the state. This is a tremendous opportunity, and the importance of extending Internet access to those who do not have it cannot be overstated. Firstly, if we do not bring broadband to those rural communities it will not be long until we see a digital gap between the educational performance of those students with broadband access and those without. The world is growing technologically, providing Internet access to rural schools and students and opening up a world of information allowing them to succeed and thrive along with students in the state and nationally that already have the benefits of broadband access. It is necessary to help students and schools reap the benefits of modernized learning and teaching methods.
We now have the opportunity to bring up to date and connect West Virginia to the rest to the world by demanding that our state and federal government dedicate the resources and manpower to make broadband Internet access available for everyone in the United States regardless of where they live. The world's knowledge now rests at our fingertips. We can see pictures from around the world, watch as events unfold, and bloggers can post their comments at a moment's notice. We have unprecedented access to news and information, and we can never underestimate the impact this will have on our future, but we cannot allow an information divide to develop. Every person must have access not only to the same information but also to the same access to that information. We must never allow someone to become a "second class" citizen just because they live in a rural area. The American promise of a good education must be kept to all students. The access to information is the very base of this promise and should not be restricted to only the students that may be able to afford "luxuries," such as the newest textbooks without the wear and tear of previous users, or being denied access to information due to the location or economic factors beyond their control.
The state has to do everything possible to make sure that we do not develop a gap between the haves and have nots of broadband access. These federal grants will go a long way to help, but more must be done. It is important that we establish a broadband infrastructure across West Virginia especially in the small towns and rural areas. This topic is more important that just a state issue. It is a national issue that effects to an extent every state and small town in America that lacks broadband access. West Virginia must act now and assure that it is not left behind or worse yet left out of the upcoming transformation of the information revolution. We must demand and make sure that our politicians work with both our business leaders and broadband providers to make available the funding and infrastructure necessary to prepare for the future.