California Orgs Call for Urgent Action on Broadband Access for Families

www.eff.org

More than fifty California organizations, businesses, and public officials joined EFF and Common Sense Kids Action in a call to urge Governor Gavin Newsom to pull the legislature back into a special session to address secure access to high-speed Internet for California families.

Organizations that joining the petition effort include the AARP of California, the San Francisco Tech Council, the California Center for Rural Policy, the Khan Academy, and a number of California cities and counties.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated California’s longstanding broadband access crisis. Governor Newsom himself has identified this as a pressing issue, with a recent executive order to establish a state goal of 100 mbps download speeds for all Californians. More than 2 million Californians lack access to high-speed broadband today. As KQED recently reported, that includes some 1.2 million students across the state who lack adequate Internet access to do their work. In a nationwide survey from Common Sense on the “homework gap,” 12 percent of teachers say a majority of their students lack home access to the internet or a computer to do schoolwork at home, though 20 percent of K-2 students and 41 percent of high school students need broadband internet access outside of school at least once a week.

And that’s in a normal year. But this is not a normal year. Lack of access has become an emergency for students today as schooling becomes remote in response to the pandemic. Many students with no access at home have been cut off from school computer labs, libraries, or other places where they may usually get the access they need. This type of situation is exactly what led to the viral pictures of two Salinas students—who clearly wanted to learn—doing their school work on the sidewalk outside the local Taco Bell.

It doesn’t have to be like this. California, home to the world’s fifth-largest economy, has solutions available. In this past legislative session, Sen. Lena Gonzalez built broad support for a deal that would have secured more than 100 million dollars a year to secure access to high-speed Internet for families, first responders, and seniors across the state. EFF and Common Sense were proud to sponsor that bill, but despite support from the California Senate and the governor’s office, California Assembly leadership refused to hear the bill and stopped it at the last moment.

California families face these problems every day—regardless of whether their representatives are willing to help them or not. But the people of California need help, and the state should move forward now to begin the work needed to finally close the digital divide.

The following organizations have already joined the call, and we hope Governor Newsom will listen.

If your organization also believes that California cannot wait to start closing the digital divide, please reach out to Senior Legislative Counsel Ernesto Falcon or Legislative Activist Hayley Tsukayama to add your name to the list. 

Signers:

AARP California

Access Humboldt

Access Now

California Center for Rural Policy

Canal Alliance

Central Coast Broadband Consortium

City of Daly City

City of Farmersville

City of Gonzales, City Council Member

City of Greenfield

City of Watsonville

Consumer Reports

Common Sense Kids Action

Council Member City of Gonzales

County of Monterey

EraseTheRedline Inc.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Fight for the Future

Founder Academy

Gigabit Libraries Network

GoNoodle

Great School Choices

Indivisible Sacramento

InnovateEDU

Intertie Inc.

Khan Academy

King City Mayor Pro tempore

LA Tech4Good

Latino Community Foundation

MakeKnowledge

Mayor, City of Soledad

MediaJustice

Modesto City Councilmember, District 2

Monkeybrains

Monterey County Supervisor, District 1

My Yute Soccer

National Cristina Foundation

National Digital Inclusion Alliance

National Hispanic Media Coalition

New America’s Open Technology Institute

Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce

Open Door Community Health Centers

OpenMedia

Peninsula Young Democrats

Public Knowledge

San Francisco Tech Council

School on Wheels

Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition

The Education Trust-West

The Greenlining Institute

Town of Colma

Trueblood Strategy

More at https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/09/join-more-fifty-california-groups-calling-urgent-action-broadband-access