Governor Mike Beebe announced today that the Arkansas Department of Education has partnered with EducationSuperHighway, a national nonprofit dedicated to improving Internet access in schools. Together, they have conducted the first phase of a comprehensive study of digital-learning readiness and K-12 broadband spending in Arkansas.
The initial study results, which focus on Internet access to schools, highlight a significant opportunity to deliver high-speed connectivity to all Arkansas students by better leveraging existing funds, working closely with the vendor community and replicating successful district models throughout the state.
"Providing our schools with high-speed broadband connections is critical to preparing our students for the modern economy," Governor Beebe said. "With the leadership of the Arkansas Department of Education, the General Assembly, our school districts and service providers, we can give our children the resources they need to compete and succeed."
By transitioning $15 million currently being spent annually on outdated copper networks and leveraging it with federal funds to build a high-speed fiber network, according to EducationSuperHighway, Arkansas can become the first state in the country to meet the national ConnectED goal of linking every student to high-speed broadband.
"Arkansas is in a great position to usher in a new era of 21st-century learning for its students," said Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway. "We are thrilled to partner with Governor Beebe to ensure that all classrooms across the state are equipped with high-speed Internet connections that can support digital learning."
Working closely with the Governor's Office, the Arkansas Department of Education, the service provider community and school-district leaders, EducationSuperHighway will use the study's results as a starting point to develop a plan to connect every Arkansas public school to fiber and the bandwidth they need at affordable prices.
EducationSuperHighway selected Arkansas as one of two pilot partner states to collaborate on an in-depth project to improve broadband access and lower costs for public schools.