It’s a lesson they might not soon forget, as students of Knights Ferry Elementary School were visited by Congressman Josh Harder earlier this week. A visit which was prompted due largely in part to a host of letters sent by students to Harder’s office voicing concern for affordable high speed internet in the rural community.
“Government does not always work perfectly,” he told the students when addressing questions in a pseudo Town Hall format. “In fact more often than not, there’s a lot of cracks in the system. It’s the job of my office to make sure that when the federal government is not being responsive to your problems we get them to help us.”
The Bobcats challenged Harder with questions on higher than average taxes in the area, as well as questioning the ability of parties to work in unity and of course the pressing internet question.
“I want to make sure to not make false promises,” he said of his intentions to work on the rural internet problem, noting the commonality of it in other rural areas. “What I will tell you and what I will promise you is, we’re going to show up, we’re going to work hard on it and we’re going to tell you the truth what we can actually get done on it.”
The Congressman went on to encourage students to continue to use their voices via letter writing. He also shared he recently co-sponsored a bill, Save Our Internet Act, to put broadband in rural areas.
“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure we have the funding to make it accessible,” he said. “The reality is, it costs a lot of money, but we need to make sure we’re making this a priority.
“Right now we’re trying to get Republicans and Democrats to sign on board, to make sure that schools like Knights Ferry and communities like Knights Ferry actually have internet to the house,” he continued.
Knights Ferry students Chase Dugo, 8; Hadley Gardner, 9’ and Erin Otte, 8, spoke with The Leader following Harder’s visit and shared their thoughts on the day’s events.
“I was hoping maybe he would hear my letter and be able to fix our problem or at least work on it,” Hadley said, noting her surprise at his interest to visit the campus and speak with the students.
“I just thought that we would get a message back that would say they would try to get our internet back up,” Erin noted.
As for the effects the slow speed internet has on students, all three agreed it creates challenges when working on assignments from home which require on-line research.
“We can do research at home and we could use our chrome books at home,” Chase said of how the improvement would impact their education.
“We have to use hot spots,” he shared of their current usage, “which hot spots go through a lot of internet.”
“I was really surprised that he actually wanted to solve our problem, because I didn’t know if he would be that interested in our problem,” Hadley said frankly, “because not having internet probably isn’t the worst thing that could happen in the world.”
The Congressman spent about an hour on the campus, visiting classrooms and speaking with the students one on one.