Today in North Carolina, President Barack Obama stated that it is his intention to see 99 percent of American students hooked up to the Internet at quick speeds inside of the next half decade, according to a report in the Associated Press. The President went on to state that today, only one-fifth of students in the United States have access to ‘high-speed’ Internet.
The AP states the President indicated that he does not need Congressional approval for his goal, as it can fit under the aegis of an “existing program.” This will allow immediate action.
Avoiding unnecessary levels of cynicism, the reason it matters that Congress need not become involved is that the program can proceed without filibuster, a budget fight, delay, horse-trading, and a Senate bill that founders against an acrimonious House. Provided that the program the Administration has in mind can fully fund the initiative, all may be well.
The goal of connecting more students to broadband is logical: the Internet as a method of staying informed, learning, and communicating is part of the fabric of the modern economy and world. To sit out is to fall behind.
The 20% figure almost feels low, and it isn’t clear if the President is referring to student connections at home, or at school, but in either case the idea of boosting the connectivity of our youths as they mature into functioning adults.
If it is in fact possible to move 79% of our students to fast Internet connections in 5 years, then it is all but criminal that we haven’t yet done so. The AP notes that the cost of the program will total in the billions. Those funds could be derived from a phone tax, it appears.
Top Image Credit: Mark Skrobola