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States Are Working to Increase Broadband Access in Schools and Disadvantaged Areas

With the importance of internet access being deemed a high priority issue for plenty of states, state governments are joining forces with schools to make sure the digital divide becomes a thing of the past. The Federal Communications Commission is helping the push with funding for high-speed internet, allowing states to make their classrooms much more digital friendly. 

"Although 75 percent of all students now have internet connections that meet the FCC’s minimum standard of 100 kilobits per second, per student, states are still working to make headway on projects that look to expand opportunity to kids in public schools," according to EdTech Magazine.

EdTech looked at three states—Arkansas, Hawaii and Minnesota—that are making significant in-roads in their efforts to provide broadband access to its students. Hawaii, for example, has successfully implemented broadband internet in all of their public schools.

"In 2014 we accomplished our goal to deliver Wi-Fi to all public schools statewide, which was a huge undertaking by our Office of Information Technology Services and Office of School Facilities and Support Services,” said Hawaii's Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi in a press release on the Department of Education’s website. "The work of our teams has paid off and we’re very proud to be recognized as number one in the country for our Wi-Fi connectivity."

This is a huge accomplishment for Hawaii and its public schools make it one of the top states in the U.S. in terms of high-speed broadband connectivity in classrooms. Meanwhile, Arkansas has managed to bring 214 of their 267 schools connectivity according to the EdTech article. Minnesota, on the other hand, is focused on ensuring that students from rural and low-income areas have access to the internet at home. A Pew Research Center report claimed that "5 million families with school-aged children don't have access to high-speed internet at home."

"Recognizing this digital gap, the Minnesota Department of Education has partnered with school internet provider Kajeet to fund broadband connectivity to students who don’t have access to the internet outside of their classroom," according to EdTech. 

These initiatives are necessary for ensuring that economically and regionally disadvantaged students are provided with a leveled playing field when it comes to access to the internet.

Read the full story.

 

Article by Navindra Persaud, Education World Contributor.

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