President Obama’s new initiative, ConnectED, aims to connect 99 percent of America’s students to the Internet through high-speed broadband and high-speed wireless within five years. President Obama called on the FCC to modernize and leverage its existing E-Rate program to meet that goal. The President also directed the federal government to make better use of existing funds to get Internet connectivity and educational technology into classrooms, and into the hands of teachers trained on its advantages. This initiative does not require Congressional action.
“We are living in a digital age, and to help our students get ahead, we must make sure they have access to cutting-edge technology,” said President Obama at a press conference. “So today, I’m issuing a new challenge for America—one that families, businesses, school districts and the federal government can rally around together—to connect virtually every student in America’s classrooms to high-speed broadband Internet within five years, and equip them with the tools to make the most of it.”
While many in education applaud President Obama’s initiative, ISTE CEO Brian Lewis cautions, “We would be remiss, though, if we did not call upon the President to go a step further and urge a substantial increase in E-Rate’s annual funding cap, where demand exceeds funding by more than $2.5 billion a year.”