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Broadband Advocates Seemingly Concede Feds Will Do Nothing, Promote State Actions

April 6, 2016

T.H.E. Journal writer Dian Schaffhauser’s article on the State Education Technology Director’s Association’s recently released report effectively concedes that the best hope for expanding broadband is now at the State level, a hope that is highly unlikely to be realized in light of most States’ unwillingness to emphasize equity in funding. Ms. Schaffhauser’s article recounts the nascent successes in some states and implies that this is evidence that other states will follow suit. But the article also includes the very discouraging news from the FCC’s recent report:

The report quotes from the Federal Communications Commission’s 2016 Broadband Progress Report, which stated that more than four in 10 schools (41 percent) still haven’t met the FCC’s short-term goal…for connectivity capable of supporting digital learning applications. The FCC also found that out-of-school access continues to be elusive; 10 percent of Americans lack access to speeds of at least 25 Mbps for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads and nearly 40 percent of people in rural areas and tribal lands lack access to adequate broadband. 

The best quote from the article is followed by the most delusional optimistic analysis I’ve read on this issue:

Something is wrong when coffee shops have faster Internet connections than most of our schools,” said James Steyer, CEO and Founder of Common Sense, in a prepared statement. “Policymakers in state capitals and in Washington, D.C. are facing the fact that critical funding is necessary to support the continued adoption of technology in classrooms throughout the country. With the use of advances in technology for learning and for administration, we must do everything we can now to finish the job of connecting every classroom and library.”

When every NYC school has the same internet speed as every Starbucks opportunity for learning will be more equal that it is today… and when policy makers in State capitals and Washington DC face the fact that critical funding is necessary to make this happen I’ll see a unicorn at my bird feeder.

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