Public Comments for: SB1225 - Broadband services; school boards to appropriate funds for expansion of services for education.
Madam Chair and members of the committee, I strongly support this bill. My name is Tonja Roberts a product and parent of children who attended Halifax County public schools. We have the fourth largest county in land mass in Virginia and only one high school, one middle school and 6 elementary schools to accommodate thousands of students. In the one high school alone, 57% of students are economically disadvantaged. Many students live almost an hours bus ride one way and live in rural areas where broadband access is unavailable. Many students don’t have transportation during school hours if a parent is at work to find hotspots for internet. Perhaps, private transportation in the home is not available at all. Why should students and parents have to leave home to scramble to find internet service? Each individual child in the Halifax County public school district deserves equitable access to learning and learning resources. Broadband must be provided for the underserved, especially in the midst of a pandemic. The educational fallout will be devastating. Giving districts the ability to earmark funding for broadband will help in this endeavor. I ask that you vote in favor of this bill.
I encourage the committee to support SB 1387 because it is of crucial importance in ensuring equal access to education for all. As an immigrant to the US and a student at the University of Richmond, I have seen firsthand the challenges that undocumented students face on a daily basis. Indeed, higher education in the United States can be extremely expensive and out of reach for many undocumented students, who lack the basic financial and academic resources afforded to most documented students. Therefore, passing this bill would bring this committee one step closer towards securing educational equity and justice. Furthermore, I take it that it is also in the long-term economic interests of the state to have such a bill in place. Undocumented students who will benefit from this bill would go on to contribute to Virginia's economy through taxes. Therefore, in the long run, Virignia's economy stands to benefit a lot more from this bill in comparison to its short term costs. Due to these reasons, it is imperative that this committee passes the bill for in-state tuition eligibility for undocumented students.