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Monday, October 2, 2017

Closing In on 100% Classroom Connectivity

Huge gains have been made in classroom connectivity, but work still remains to be done, according to the 2017 State of the States report from EducationSuperHighway, a nonprofit headquartered in San Francisco that serves as an advocate and consultant for states and school districts to obtain high-speed Internet access for all classrooms.

In 2013, 40 million students were unable to meet the Federal Communications Commission’s 100 kilobits-per-second minimum connectivity goal for digital learning. As of this year, that number has been reduced to 6.5 million students, with 748 districts still requiring upgrades to effectively use the Internet in their classrooms. EducationSuperHighway’s goal is to have every student in the country connected by 2020.

Responding to a Funds For Learning survey, almost 80% of school districts and libraries credited the federal E-rate program for their faster Internet connections. E-rate is shorthand for the Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, administered by the Universal Service Administrative Co. under direction of the FCC. The largest federally funded education program, it gives discounts to help schools and libraries secure affordable and safe telecommunications and Internet access.

In addition to E-rate, EducationSuperHighway noted that 46 state governors are supporting legislation to improve affordability, increase fiber-optic connections, and get Wi-Fi into every classroom.

“Access to high-speed Internet is no longer considered a luxury but a basic necessity for 21st-century learning,” Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf stated in the report.

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