About 1 million Texans don’t have home access to broadband, a state report found last summer.
The pandemic made Texas’ already gaping digital divide much more challenging, which had lawmakers pledging to close that gap. Gov. Greg Abbott named expanding broadband access one of his priority items at the beginning of session, and last week two omnibus bills gained traction when they each were unanimously voted out of their House and Senate committees.
About 15% of households in metropolitan areas don’t have access to broadband data plans, he said, and the problem can’t just be solved with infrastructure. Families also struggle with affordability and gaps in digital literacy.
It’s important to include “regular people” in the discussion process for these plans, said Josephine López Paul, the lead organizer for Dallas Area Interfaith, a coalition of congregations, schools and nonprofits. López Paul, who helps organize advocates around issues in their Dallas County communities, has noticed that many are still grappling with the same internet challenges as they were at the start of the pandemic.
“They need to do some bottom-up listening and not just assume they have a plan that’s going to work with people,” López Paul said. “They can put broadband structures in areas and if people don’t know that it’s there or that they need it … it’s just going to be a wasted effort.”
In recent hearings that drew overwhelmingly positive feedback from nonprofit advocates, school leaders and internet service providers, one lawmaker emphasized the bills aren’t a foolproof solution on their own.
[Photo Credit: Lola Gomez/DMN Staff Photographer]
Pima Community College Chancellor Lee Lambert and five key Pima County Interfaith Civic Education Organization leaders signed the first ever Memorandum of Understanding between the college and interfaith group to promote collaboration around civic engagement, student leadership development, and other mutually beneficial activities. The MOU will be in effect for 5 years.
Monsignor Raul Trevizo, Pastor of St. John the Evangelist and Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese of Tucson, Rev. Sharon Ragland, Senior Pastor of St. Mark's Methodist UMC, Fr. Tom Tureman, S.D.S., Pastor of Most Holy Trinity Catholic, Rev. Delle McCormick, Senior Pastor of Rincon Congregational UCC, and Deaconess Marjie Hrabe, President of the PCICEO Board spoke at the signing ceremony. Rev. Ragland spoke of the importance of Pima to her daughter's success, and Msgr. Trevizo recalled teaching classes at PCC as one of his first jobs after college. All the speakers stressed the importance of students being supported, engaged and successful.Read more