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Bill would bring Internet, e-books to low-income students

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced a bill today to expand a federal Internet program to bring e-book readers and residential broadband services to students.

Markey was the author of the original e-rate program, a $2.25 billion annual fund used to finance broadband projects for schools. Since the bill passed in 1996 as part of the Telecom Act, schools wired for Web access rose to 95 percent from 12 percent.

"Now with the expansion of the scope of technology, students need more than just Web access at school, and our e-rate 2.0 bill is intended to reflect those expanded needs," Markey said in a statement. He is a former chairman of the House communications, technology and Internet subcommittee.

Along with co-authors Lois Capps (D-Calif.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Markey said the bill will help narrow the digital divide by increasing the number of technologies available to low-income students.

Specifically, the bill would direct the Federal Communications Commission on three pilot programs:

1. Vouchers to allow low-income students to get broadband Internet service at their homes.

2. Funding for broadband equipment and services for community colleges and Head Start schools through a competitive grant program.

3. Discounts on services and technologies like e-books for schools serving low-income students.

By Cecilia Kang  |  February 9, 2010; 2:15 PM ET
 
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Comments

I am surprised that nobody comments on this article.

e-books are better than no books, but kids can learn better with free paperback textbooks. For the publishers, e-books are more profitable as they no longer have to worry about inventory costs and no more used copies to compete with new books. Who would be the losers? Taxpayers and students.

However, computer homework programs with problems based on the textbook are helpful to both students and teachers. Students can get an instant response from the program. Some program even offers a similar problem or hints. Teachers don't have to grade each assignment or copied assignments. This kind of homework management programs can help students learn better, but a paperback textbook for students to keep will have a long-term impact to the learning process. In some families, these books may be the only books some kids will ever have around the house. It is ridiculous that this richest nation cannot afford giving our K-12 kids free textbooks to keep for life. Let's not tell kids not to do drugs. Give them some books they can call their own.

IF we are going to give kids broadband internet service free, I don't think it's necessary to offer expensive broadband services. Cheaper versions of DSL service are plenty to do homework online. What we want to avoid is to get kids or even their parents hooked on online video games or even gambling.

Posted by: dummy4peace | February 9, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

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