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Initiatives to support schools move online

With government solutions for fixing the education system slow in coming, online programs are sprouting up to funnel teaching expertise and money to the nation's classrooms.

Can the Internet fix the ailing U.S. public school system?

With government solutions for fixing the education system slow in coming, online volunteer and charity programs are sprouting up to funnel teaching expertise and money to the nation's classrooms.

Among those signing up for the digital revolution: presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who is taking time to promote a plan linking volunteer tutors, especially veterans and retirees, with students over the Internet.

Also this week, Net fund-raiser Schoolpop.com relaunched its Web site, offering shoppers a way to contribute money to schools each time they make a purchase over the Internet.

According to the McCain campaign, 89 percent of public schools are connected to the Internet, up from 51 percent in 1998. Although wiring schools once meant simply getting computers into classrooms, that might be the tip of the iceberg.

McCain, for example, is calling on individual state and local education authorities to maintain a clearinghouse of qualified veterans, retirees and other volunteers willing to help tutor elementary and secondary education students over the Internet or in person in the core subjects of math, science and English.

Companies such as Schoolpop, meanwhile, want to offer online shoppers a way to give money to their local schools in a quick and relatively painless way. Once users have registered on their site, a portion of their purchases will automatically be donated to their school of choice.

Nearly 150 stores participate in Schoolpop's program, including Amazon.com, eToys, Land's End and Tower Records.

"Schoolpop.com allows friends and family to contribute to schools by buying merchandise and services they really want and need," Rea Callender, president and CEO at Schoolpop, said in a statement. "Schoolpop.com makes giving to schools direct and immediate."