In a move that could be called No Child Left Unconnected, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed a 62% increase in spending on high-speed and Wi-Fi Internet for schools, with the ultimate goal of connecting every classroom and library within five years, The New York Times reports.
It’s almost hard to believe that, in an era where every coffee shop and hotel has high-speed Internet, our schools are lagging so far behind. According to the FCC, an alarming 40 million students do not have adequate broadband connections in their schools, and 68% of school districts say that none of their schools currently provide sufficient high-speed Internet access, and schools in impoverished or rural areas are disproportionately affected.
The proposal asks for an increase in funding to a government program called E-Rate, which would work to install fiber optic lines and shore up existing infrastructure in poor areas. It would bring broadband internet to 20 million students in the next two years and to all students within five years. The money would come from a roughly 16-cent increase to existing monthly phone bill fees for consumers and businesses, costing the average consumer less than $2 more per year to fund the initiative.
“If the Commission… does not act, these libraries and schools will be unable to upgrade their infrastructure, and the students and communities they serve will not have access to high-speed Internet and new educational tools and technologies,” the FCC said in a statement.