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Tom Kimbrell pitches $10 million for internet access in Arkansas schools

Kimbrell wants $10 to connect Arkansas schools to the internet
Kimbrell wants $10 to connect Arkansas schools to the internet
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State Education Commissioner, Tom Kimbrell, is pitching a $10 million Internet in Schools plan to the state finance committee in advance of the Legislature’s fiscal session which convenes next month. Arkansas News Bureau reported on Jan. 15, 2014, that the proposal has the backing of Gov. Mike Beebe. The intent of the Internet in Schools program is to provide internet access to all Arkansas public schools.

The proposal was submitted to the Joint Budget Committee. No action was taken by the committee on this proposal. Kimbrell said in an interview that funding internet access to all public schools was something he wanted to accomplish in this fiscal session.

Providing internet access to all public schools will be expensive. This is especially true in rural areas that do not currently have access to DSL or cable. Those areas will have to access the internet via satellite systems which is extremely expensive.

What Kimbrell is not discussing is that internet access will be required in all schools as part of Common Core and Race to the Top initiative. Testing for Common Core is migrating from test sheets where students fill in the bubble to computer based testing which requires internet access. Internet access for all schools should be a priority, but the push to get this through in the 2014 Fiscal Legislative session is driven by Common Core. If the Legislature does not approve this, it will have to wait until the 2015 session. That may prevent some Arkansas public schools from meeting Common Core testing requirements. All Arkansas students in grades 3 through 9 must take a norm-referenced, standardized test every year. Testing occurs in April.

Arkansas currently ranks 48 out the 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands in internet access. A program called Connect Arkansas is attempting to bring broadband internet to all areas of Arkansas.

Lynda Altman is very concerned about the state of the public schools in Arkansas and the United States. She is opposed to Common Core. Lynda writes a blog called Homeschooling When Mom has Cancer. Get notices when this page is updated by clicking on the subscribe link, by email, or contact Lynda @fusgeyer on Twitter.