I posted previously about how the Arkansas legislature blocked public school access to stronger broadband internet. One entity has emerged that has been battling this. A group called FASTER Arkansas, who seems to work in tandem with a parent non-profit called ARE-ON (Arkansas Research and Education Optical Network), has an active Facebook site, and several Op-Eds have emerged calling for the state’s lawmakers to put the existing 1Gb and 10Gb Ethernet connections in action for schools across the state.
Here are the links to these organizations:
Arkansas students’ Journey to the Education Super Highway may be enhanced by ARE-ON’s motives. Who are they?
Here’s a link: https://www.areon.net/the-wave/are-on-philosophy-no-one-has-to-lose-for-everyone-to-win/
Most institutions of higher education in the state are network members and already benefit from strong broadband access. There’s a map on the ARE-ON website that shows these connections.
On their website, it reads, “ARE-ON provides a high-speed fiber optic backbone network throughout the state with 1Gb and 10Gb Ethernet connections to its members, affiliates, national research and education networks, regional optical networks, and commercial service providers..”
Tele-medicine and access to online higher education seem to be two primary missions of ARE-ON, which is the “tax-payer funded infrastructure” that has been prohibited from use by the legislature. Arkansas is the only state with this Internet 2 capacity that is blocking public schools’ use of it. Higher education programs online is a booming business, especially in rural states, as is tele-medicine. Many people, including public school students may benefit from the loosening of the legislature of this Ethernet access, yet we must wonder who will benefit monetarily, in the long run?Is that why the legislature created the noose that they did?
As educators, each day we just know we need students to be able to SKYPE with experts, to research koalas on the National Geographic for Kids website, or to share lesson plans on Common Curriculum or view instructional videos on the Teaching Channel. But somehow, there’s also an upper story involving the legislature, politicians, and business owners that shadows the story of schools, teachers and students. My take is that the new governor, who has election promises to keep, will take ensure the ARE-ON networks open soon.