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ERIC Number: EJ763317
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1539-9664
World Wide Wonder?: Measuring the (Non-)Impact of Internet Subsidies to Public Schools
Goolsbee, Austan; Guryan, Jonathan
Education Next, v6 n1 p60-65 Win 2006
The best evidence of the concern over the digital divide was the speed with which the federal government interceded to help close it. A program offering generous subsidies to schools and libraries for the purchase of Internet technology was made part of the massive overhaul of the Telecommunications Act in 1996. The subsidies were apportioned on a sliding scale, with poorer schools receiving more. Known as the E-Rate (education rate) program, the schools and libraries subsidy was funded by a tax on long-distance telephone service. It quickly became the most ambitious federal school technology program in history. Many of the supporters of the E-Rate program expected the program to do more than simply wire schools. This article examines the impact of Internet subsidies to public schools and the effectiveness of the E-Rate program. Judged solely as a policy to close the digital divide, the E-Rate program registers as a success. The E-Rate subsidy led to substantial increases in Internet investment in California's public schools. With the important exception of rural schools, which did not respond to the subsidy, the funding went disproportionately to schools on the low side of the digital divide, as it was supposed to. By the end of the 2000 school year, three years after the E-Rate program granted its first subsidies, the program had increased the number of California public school classrooms with Internet access by 68%. Judged as a means of improving student performance, however, the E-Rate has shown little success on any testable measure. In the end, the E-Rate program has helped get basically every school in the country hooked up to the Internet. The Internet itself, though, seems unlikely to be a silver bullet for solving the problems of America's public schools. (Contains 2 figures.)
Hoover Institution. Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Tel: 800-935-2882; Fax: 650-723-8626; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Telecommunications Act 1996