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December 6, 2005
Posted online: January 6, 2006

Preparing Illinois students for the information age


CHICAGO -- Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn proposed the I-Connect Initiative today to provide a personal laptop computer for all 169,000 seventh grade students in Illinois public schools. Laptop computer initiatives in other states have significantly improved academic performance.

Modeled after the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, I-Connect will allow Illinois students to learn anywhere at anytime with their laptop computer. Henrico County in Virginia introduced a similar laptop initiative for students in grades 6-12. Last school year, students in that school district achieved the highest SAT verbal and math scores ever recorded in the county, just four years after the program began.

"No Illinois child should be left on the wrong side of the digital divide," Quinn said. "Laptops are the textbooks of tomorrow."

Under Quinn’s proposal, Illinois seventh grade students will be issued a laptop computer at the beginning of the school year and would be allowed to keep the laptop computer over the course of six years. School districts will decide how the laptop computer will be utilized in the classroom. Teachers will also receive professional training on how to integrate laptop computers into everyday curriculum.

Andrew Jackson Language Academy has been wired for the Internet since 1995 and has made 20 laptop computers available to students since 1999. Each classroom is also equipped with two desktop computers. Principal Dr. Mary Zeltmann and a group of seventh grade students also joined Quinn at the event.

Quinn also traveled to Jefferson Middle School in Champaign, Carbondale Middle School in Carbondale and the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center in East St. Louis to announce the I-Connect Initiative.

The I-Connect Initiative would provide laptop computers to every Illinois seventh grader in public school by closing a long-standing loophole in the Illinois tax code which allows retail merchants to pocket 1.75% of the state sales tax collected by retailers as a collection commission.

The loophole reform would lower the retail sales tax collection commission from 1.75% to 1% and would generate an estimated $50 million annually to pay for the I-Connect Initiative.

Lt. Governor Quinn serves as Chairman of the Broadband Deployment Council. The Council was created under Executive Order in September to address Internet access needs for all Illinois citizens and to help bridge the digital divide.

As Lt. Governor, Quinn is also chairman of the Rural Affairs Council which recently provided Wireless Main Street grants to the communities of Mt. Vernon and Quincy in Downstate Illinois.

For more information about the I-Connect Initiative, visit

© 2005 The Cairo Gate