State partners with nonprofit to boost internet access in Indiana schools

By Makenna Mays
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana is partnering with EducationSuperHighway, a nonprofit organization committed to removing roadblocks to internet access for schools, to give all Hoosier students high-speed internet in the classroom.

Gov. Eric Holcomb, Dr. Jennifer McCormick, superintendent of public instruction, and Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway, gathered at Blue and Gold Academy in Decatur to announce the partnership.

Evan Marwell, EducationSuperHihghway CEO, Gov. Eric Holcomb and Superintendent of Public Intstruction, Dr. Jennifer McCormick with students of the Blue and Gold Academy.
Photo by Makenna Mays, TheStatehouseFile.com

“This partnership is just another expression of that on-going commitment to extend and improve our internet connectivity for every Indiana school and student,” said Holcomb.

In Indiana, 40,000 students do not have the minimum amount of broadband internet access needed to use technology in the classroom, and there are 30 Indiana schools that still need high-speed fiber connections.

However, there is still $47 million remaining in the federal E-rate funding, the school and libraries program of the Universal Service Fund, to improve wireless internet in Indiana schools.

“For Indiana, it’s beyond science, engineering and math, it is about critical thinking, it is about being creative, and it is about communication and collaboration,” said McCormick. “But we cannot do any of those things if we are struggling with connectivity.”

EducationSuperHighway will work with the Indiana Department of Education and local school districts to determine how to best improve internet access. To do this, Marwell says they need to accomplish three things:

  • Make sure they know which schools are in need of upgrades and what upgrades are needed,
  • Work with service providers in the community to bring new options to schools so they can get the infrastructure and broadband they need and
  • Help school districts take advantage of the $47 million in federal funding to put wireless internet in every classroom

“Our mission is to put high-speed broadband in every public school and classroom in America,” said Marwell.

EducationSuperHighway CEO, Evan Marwell speaking at Blue and Gold Academy about their partnership with the state to boost internet connectivity in schools.
Photo by Makenna Mays, TheStatehouseFile.com

EducationSuperHighway will work school districts to achieve affordable broadband and have wall-to-wall wireless internet capable of supporting digital learning.

This partnership will also help the state best use the $2 million allocated to support school internet connectivity.

“This is truly a team effort,” said Holcomb.

Holcomb said that it was very important for students to engage and have a digital learning experience.

“This isn’t just about passing the class or moving on to the next grade, this is truly about preparing, in the broadest sense preparing for kids to pursue what their dreams are,” said Holcomb.

Significant improvements to internet connectivity in schools will take place in the upcoming school year, with the goal of having everything completed in the next two years.

Makenna Mays is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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