Life can be a little slower in rural America. That’s why many people love living there.

Some rural residents don’t like their slow, dial-up Internet service, though. In too many communities, there just isn’t enough bandwidth to download a typical file without the connection “timing out.”

A new Commerce Department survey shows that in 2010 only 60 percent of rural households had high-speed, broadband Internet service. According to the survey, most non-adopters say they don’t need high-speed Internet, or it’s too expensive. That’s a big part of the problem. As long as people aren’t willing to pay for the service, the cost-benefit isn’t there for telecom companies to build the infrastructure to extend it to far-flung locations.

Sixty percent doesn’t seem that bad until you turn it around: 40 percent of rural Americans can’t take online college courses or start an Internet-based business. Want to apply for a job? Today, most companies post openings and take applications via the Web.

It’s a cliché, when one is trying to make something seem important, to say, “Think of the children.” But seriously, think of the children. Urban and suburban schools are using interactive, online textbooks, educational videos on SchoolTube and other Web-based resources. Students research full-text articles from online libraries and databases to write term papers. Kids who don’t use these resources will be at an educational disadvantage today and at a serious disadvantage when competing for scholarships and jobs later. Rural kids shouldn’t be stuck in the slow lane.