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Do minority-serving schools and universities need an extra $250 million in government money per year to fund investments in technology? Senator John Kerry (D-MA) believes that they do, and he last week introduced a Senate bill that would provide the money. 老域名出售

The Max Cleland Minority Serving Institutions Digital and Wireless Technology Opportunity Act has a name so unwieldy that it makes one long for the ludicrous acronyms of yesteryear, but it has a simple purpose: provide federal money to "minority-serving" educational institutions.

The money would be doled out by a new department created within the National Science Foundation. The only institutions that would be eligible are historically black colleges, tribally-controlled colleges, institutions that primarily serve Hispanics, Alaskan natives, and native Hawaiians, and schools which have "enrolled a substantial number of minority, low-income students during the previous academic year."

If it ever passes, the bill would allot $250 million for each fiscal year from 2008 to 2012. That money could be used for a wide-ranging list of things: everything from buying new networking hardware to providing teacher education to educational services "related to science, mathematics, engineering, or technology." Institutions that apply for a grant need to come up with 25 percent of the money themselves unless their endowment is below $50 million.

The bill seems designed to help close the "digital divide" that still separates minority-serving institutions from their wealthier peers. Whether a billion dollars in federal money can have much of an effect remains to be seen, but the bill will need to clear both the Senate and the House before we find out.

The bill is identical to a version introduced in 2003 by then-Senator George Allen (R-VA). It failed to pass at the time.


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