Last week, I shared my story with Senator Todd Young because I know my story is not unique. There are thousands of Hoosier families without internet whose children need a connection to participate in remote learning.
It took strength, patience and humility to share my story, but I spoke up to make sure my children have a better life. Having a better life requires they have a great education. And if having access to a quality public education is an American right, then having access to home internet must now also be an American right.
On my call with Sen. Young, I told him I am a mother of two beautiful children, including one in Indianapolis Public Schools. I did not realize how important the internet was to my family until schools closed last spring. Not having the internet meant that my third-grade daughter suffered in her schoolwork and in the connections she had with her teacher and friends.
For me, home internet is an affordability issue. I’m currently looking for work, so my family budget is tight and I’ve been forced to spend down my savings to support my kids. That’s why I looked to take advantage of one of the free internet programs that were offered back in March. I quickly learned that “free” doesn’t always mean truly free. Because I had missed a payment with the internet provider in the past, I was unable to get the free service even if I promised to pay the debt once I got on better footing.
I tried to explain to the service provider that I needed the internet for my kid to get her schoolwork done and to help me find a job so that I could pay these bills. It did not matter. The internet company would not provide me with their “free” internet because of the debt. Eventually, I was able to open an account in my mom’s name to ensure my daughter had internet. That bill is now being increased to $60 per month and I worry about my ability to afford the service. Now it’s just not an option for my daughter to go without the internet anymore, especially because I expect remote learning will be needed this school year at some point.
I’m not alone. A lot of Hoosier parents share a very similar story, but you can help. Please send an email to Senators Braun and Young today and ask them to support more funding for home internet when they return to Washington. My daughter and thousands of Hoosier students like her are counting on these leaders to ensure they have access to a great education and an equal shot at success.