Making Internet access more equal

Editor of the Reformer:

Providing Internet access in the classroom is essential to creating equal educational opportunities ("Tech gurus help boost speedy Internet in schools," Dec. 5), but inequality will persist until we get every student connected at home. Roughly one in three Americans still doesn’t have broadband Internet service at home; a whopping 40 percent of African Americans and half of Hispanic Americans are out in the cold when it comes to broadband.

Solving this problem and getting everyone online is critical to rebuilding our economy. Most Fortune 500 companies will only post new job offerings online and most middle class jobs require strong Internet skills.

Two years ago, the FCC teamed with the nation’s largest broadband provider -- Comcast -- to initiate the largest experiment ever attempted to close the digital divide. Their program, known as Internet Essentials, offers heavily discounted broadband service, affordable computers, and training to low income families.

No attempt to close the digital divide has ever been so successful. Nearly one million Americans have joined in just two years. Now other broadband providers such as Time Warner Cable are also joining the ranks to provide the same service.

The digital divide took years of neglect to open so wide; it’ll also take years of hard work -- and more of these kinds of creative public-private partnerships -- to close.

Hilary O. Shelton,

Director, NAACP Washington Bureau, Dec. 16 Wrong car?

Editor of the Reformer:

The other day we found a copy of "The Complete Beatrix Potter Collection Vol. 1" and "The Best of Clifford" in our car. Since we are in our 80s and all our kids are in their 50s, we really, although we enjoy those DVDs, don’t need them. We are afraid that they are really meant for a child’s Christmas and were put into our "sea-glass Prius" by mistake.

Jacquie Walker,

Putney, Dec. 17

Traffic calming vs. lawsuits

Editor of the Reformer:

With four fatal pedestrian accidents I would think it’s high time that Brattleboro install traffic calming medians and reduce their insurance exposure to lawsuits. Other towns have taken advantage of government grants and it has proved to be a safe solution.

David White,

Putney, Dec. 17

More on traffic
in town

Editor of the Reformer:

The Selectboard and town of Brattleboro need to take immediate action to remedy the dangerous intersection (two recent deaths) at Union Hill and Western Avenue.

First, members of the Selectboard and other town leaders must walk in the crosswalk parallel to Western Avenue along Union Street at dusk or early evening. The terror they experience will overcome their natural reluctance to take bold action. Second, the right solution must be found. Highway deaths in the United States fell dramatically in the last half of the 20th century because automobiles and roads were built more safely (prompted by Ralph Nader). Driver’s education and other educational efforts were not the cause of the improvement. Similarly, this intersection needs physical changes: exhorting motorists and pedestrians to be more careful will not do the trick. Many individuals have proposed modifications to the intersection: choose the best one.

Fritz Engstrom,

Brattleboro, Dec. 17

And even more

Editor of the Reformer:

Last night I was driving north on Putney Road when I noticed that the driver of the car behind me had forgotten to turn on its headlights. In an effort to encourage the driver to do so, I turned my lights on and off repeatedly on two occasions, to no avail. Shortly thereafter we were stopped at a traffic light. I got out of my truck and walked back to the car to ask the driver turn on the lights. Perhaps I should not have been surprised to find that the driver was a young woman engaged in conversation on her cell phone. I told her about the dangers of distracted driving through her car window. She turned on the lights, waved me away, and continued with her call.

There was yet another pedestrian fatality in Brattleboro last week. Distracted drivers present a danger to other motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and themselves. Laws and technology need to be developed to ensure that motorists give driving their undivided attention. Everyone needs to understand that talking on the telephone while driving is completely unacceptable.

Joe Cook,

Dummerston, Dec. 12