Pursuing the Last Mile: Broadband in the Central Valley

Three Central Valley college students share their experience during the pandemic in a CVHEC-commissioned video highlighting broadband disparity.

Broadband Disparity: equity issue in California’s Central Valley – adequate
access is essential to increasing degree attainment rates 

Benjamin T. Duran, Ed.D. CVHEC Executive Director

Greetings Colleagues and Friends of CVHEC,

We are delighted to share with you a video project the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium undertook to highlight the state of broadband in the Central Valley — “Pursuing the Last Mile: Broadband in the Central Valley.”

The Central Valley’s broadband disparity — an inability to access reliable internet — is not a new story, however, in true pandemic fashion, COVID restrictions forced us all to face the reality of Central Valley students’ struggles to reach academic goals and work through remote learning with foiled attempts.

Everyone has a story. But this internet disparity hits at the heart of what CVHEC is attempting to accomplish — improve the Central Valley’s degree attainment rates. Pre-pandemic, the Central Valley already suffered inequitable access to postsecondary education (the Central Valley has nearly half of the Bay Area’s rate for bachelor degree attainment) — not having adequate access to broadband makes the goal of increasing degree attainment rates even more difficult.

“Pursuing the Last Mile: Broadband in the Central Valley” is a three-minute video CVHEC commissioned the Fenceline Media Group to create to tell the Central Valley broadband story. This video not only highlights three students’ personal struggles but also shines a light on their perseverance to reach their academic goals.

Our hope is that the California Legislature and the federal government consider the Central Valley story in building the last mile of broadband infrastructure that has been lacking and is creating even greater disparity.

Our Central Valley students shouldn’t have to prove themselves worthy of education by showing how creative they can be to secure some form of internet access. Reliable broadband should be afforded to all California students — even those who are attempting to access from our rural fields. California needs reliable broadband infrastructure to ensure all Californians are able to pursue their educational pursuits.

A COVID-impact survey of graduating high school students and continuing college students conducted by the California Student Aid Commission, released July 2020,  shows that students’ concerns over online learning during the pandemic caused them to change their academic plans.

Another COVID-impact survey conducted in May 2020 by the RP Group shows that African American/Black, Hispanic/Latina/o/x and American Indian students disproportionately lacked access to computers and the internet. Broadband is an equity issue that must be addressed.

As fall plans begin to emerge, a hybrid learning/work environment will likely be a reality. To ensure our Central Valley is afforded the same opportunities as the rest of California, the last mile of broadband infrastructure cannot wait.

Benjamin T. Duran, Ed.D.
Executive Director – Central Valley Higher Education Consortium (CVHEC)

 

SEE:

Recovery with Equity Task Force report – Central Valley’s rate for bachelor degree attainment

•.California Student Aid Commission COVID-impact survey (December 2020) – graduating high school students and continuing college students

RP Group COVID-impact survey (May 2020) — African American/Black, Hispanic/Latina/o/x and American Indian students access to computers and the internet

Full press release

You Tube version