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It is time for all of our schools throughout the area to have full High Speed or Broadband access to the Internet. While not the only important learning tool available, it is an increasingly vital one. Students to be competitive must have continuing fast Internet access so that it becomes a second language in the preparation of their future. Yet our country and our region have a long way to go.
The United States ranks only 15th in the world in broadband access for all. Our country, which invented the Internet and created its basic programs, falls behind nations such as England, France, Korea and Germany in per capita access.
The next President of the United States says he will advocate a huge stimulus package. While much of it will be for infrastructure projects, but as reported in the New York Times on December 7th, the program also will include a vast expansion of Broadband Internet access and the upgrading of computers in the schools. President-elect Obama reminds us that while we invented the Internet, we lag behind its development and use in the schools so that every child has the opportunity and knowledge to use the internet.
I have seen very few St. Louis schools where students use the Internet as a learning tool. For some there is a computer at home. But children spend most of their days in classrooms where so much of their education takes place. And there Internet access needs to be fully available and utilized.
Schools must take advantage of the federal opportunity that will be offered. The package to be presented to Congress will hopefully put 2,000,000 plus people to work building highways, bridges and infrastructure. But the offer appears to be open for schools to develop programs for the Internet and have access to purchasing computers. Do not let this opportunity slip by. It is too important for the future of our children and this country. Broadband Internet is the interstate information highway of the 21st Century.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Susan Uchitelle is a consultant for the Voluntary Interdistrict Coordinating Council.