Inside: Technology


Not too many years ago, school administrators envisioned having a computer in every classroom. That goal has been reached in most districts, and now in Houston, it is being surpassed.

Within the next few months, every teacher in the 208,000-student Houston Independent School District will have a laptop computer that will allow them to take their work between home and school.

In a partnership with a major computer manufacturer and Texas' Technology Information Fund, the nation's seventh-largest district is buying as many as 15,000 laptops for its faculty. The agreement includes three years of maintenance and support from the manufacturer. Superintendent Kaye Stripling announced the districtwide technology initiative in her “State of the Schools” address last month.

Teachers who want to buy the machines can do so for a “nominal” fee.

Students who use Internet for schoolwork, 2001
Age Percentage
5-9 46.9%
10-13 76.6%
14-17 86.1%
18-24 90.1%


The E-rate program has provided schools and libraries with billions of federal dollars for technology upgrades and has given students and teachers much greater access to the benefits of technology. But it could do a whole lot more, says a study from the Benton Foundation.

The report, “Great Expectations: Leveraging America's Investment in Educational Technology,” recommends allocating more funds to the program and expanding the list of products and services that are eligible for E-rate funding.

In the preface to the report, Senators John D. Rockefeller and Olympia J. Snowe, and Representatives Fred Upton and Edward J. Markley, wrote: “This is no time to rest on our laurels. To support the unique opportunities technology offers to improve teaching and learning, work remains to be done in a number of areas.”

The report recommends keeping the Federal Communications Commission in charge of the E-rate, raising the funding limit from $2.25 billion a year, conducting outreach programs to schools in low-income areas, reviewing the appropriateness of the funding discounts offered to schools and libraries, and widening the range of products and services that schools and libraries can acquire with E-rate funding.

Under the E-rate schools and libraries receive discounts on technology purchases, ranging from 20 to 90 percent, based on the economic status of the community. The Schools and Libraries Division of the Universal Service Administration Company has estimated that in the fifth year of E-rate funding, the government will receive requests of more than $5.7 billion.


A report from the U.S. Department of Commerce, “A Nation Online: How Americans Are Expanding Their Use of the Internet,” indicates that most students, regardless of age, use computers at school. Students also use the Internet at school in significant rates.

“The high rate of Internet use outside the home among young people 10 years old and up is… largely accounted for by use at schools,” says the report.

The data also shows that an overwhelming majority of students 10 or older who connect to the Internet — at school, home or elsewhere — use it for schoolwork.

Connected Students
Age Percentage who use computer at school, 2001 Percentage who use Internet at school, 2001
5-9 74.0% 22.2%
10-13 84.6% 45.2%
14-17 85.6% 55.4%
18-24 86.1% 64.9%
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