Group Declares Classroom Digital Divide Closed

A group devoted to closing the classroom digital divide said it is sunsetting in 2020, declaring boldly: "Mission Accomplished."

The nonprofit EducationSuperHighway was created in 2012 with the express goal of upgrading internet access in "every public classroom in America," and now said its latest "State of the States" report shows that 99% of schools have high-speed connections that allow enough bandwidth for teachers and students to use new tech in classrooms.

Over that time, it reports, the price of internet access to schools has declined by 90%. But the group clarifies that its mission was to lay the foundation and more needs to be done to leverage that connectivity. It also said it would be sticking around until 2020 to work on that last 1%.

The report credits the efforts of federal policymakers--the FCC's Universal Service Fund subsidizes broadband buildouts to anchor institutions including schools and libraries, for example--as well as governors in all 50 states, service providers and schools.

"Powered by the modernization of the E-rate [FCC educational broadband subsidy] program, matching funds from governors, and the incredible efforts of service providers, tens of thousands tens of thousands of miles of new fiber have been built to connect our schools to 21st century broadband infrastructure," the report said.

The group said that high-speed buildout is paying off, with 93% of school districts using digital learning in at least half their classrooms.

“By closing the digital divide in the classroom, we’re opening the door to new educational opportunities for millions of students across the nation,” said Evan Marwell, founder and CEO of EducationSuperHighway. “Digital learning isn’t just a promise anymore — now, it’s a reality.”

EducationSuperHighway has been funded by some high-(tech) powered foundations, notably the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.