How many readers notice Obama’s bold new initiative called “Connect-Ed” announced earlier this month. You might have heard about it in the form of a proposed increase in the Universal Service fund the FCC imposes on all cell phone users, with the exception of the two and a half million Obama phones. If you didn’t hear or glossed over the details since everything Obama does is proclaimed bold by news organizations. Obama is proposing to connect 99% of students to broadband internet service by calling on the FCC to “modernize and leverage” its E-Rate program to support this vision.
A little background on the Universal Service Fund and the E-Rate program is in order. The Universal service fund is the fee that is passed along from your provider when you pay your bill. This fund is used to pay for the much hated Obama phones. It is also used to pay to close the digital divide thru the E-Rate program. The digital divide was invented to take earned dollars and turn them into owed dollars for distribution to Obama voters.
Since taking credit and expanding the Lifeline cell phone program worked so well during the 2012 election why not expand it for the 2014 election. Prior to the 2012 election you could type in Obama phone and be linked to this website (http://web.archive.org/web/20120126094635/http://obamaphone.net/ ). Now that Obama is safely reelected the site is dead and 41% of Obama phone users have been dropped from the program for not meeting the basic requirements.
So what is this bold new initiative to connect school children to the internet? Like most of Obama’s proclamations they are long on vision short on specifics. The claim is to connect 99% of students to broadband. But the facts don’t agree with the initiative. According to the National Center for Educational statistics 98% of schools had internet access in 2008. (See chart http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d11/tables/dt11_109.asp ) Notice he mentioned students and not schools, or anyone between 16 and 21. This bold initiative something else entirely.
For the answer we must look at the programs currently in place and how expanding these would meet the definition of 99% of students. The largest program to date is the BTOP (Broadband Technology Opportunity Program) program started with stimulus money in 2009. An outline of accomplishments are highlighted in a 2010 report (http://www.acuta.org/wcm/acuta/legreg/122110a.pdf ) and an explanation of how to reach all those students.
Note on page five how the backbone which the government didn’t build is being used to connect schools, libraries, hospitals and government offices. The last mile being addressed is to connect homes and business. You will also note that public housing is one of the priorities included with schools and libraries. New York City has adopted a bold program to reach students “who have disengaged from High school”. (Drop outs) Our cell phone fees will cover bringing broadband right to their doors thru the adoption project. No computer, no problem we will provide one for free.
So this new program brought out with little fan fare will be providing broadband access to selected “clients” homes, so other than free breakfast and lunch they don’t have to travel to school. This will allow more videos of hopeful rap stars, the knock out game, flash mob robberies, and photographic proof of the thug life for disadvantaged youth.
When the Obama administration puts it mind to something it is called bold. Too bad they haven’t bothered with our economy or the situation in the Middle East. Just more of the same bold use of our earned dollars to reward supporters who will provide the broadband to his voters who then will take advantage of Obama’s’ stash.