Healthcare, education, civil rights and labor reform were the pillars of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D.–Mass.) during his 47-year political career, but the senator also played a key role in shaping U.S. technology policy, from ensuring adequate computers were in schools to pushing for Net Neutrality to being the first U.S. senator to communicate with constituents over the Internet. An impressive list, particularly for someone whose career started just two years after the first televised presidential debate, between his brother Senator John F. Kennedy and and Vice President Richard Nixon.
Below are some tech highlights from Ted Kennedy’s storied career. If you know of any others, feel free to leave a note in the comments or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll add them to the list.
- May 1993: Tells system administrator Chris Casey, “If you can find a way for me to reach constituents using computer networks, do it.” Casey then sets up a bulletin board for the Senator, the first such Senate presence on the Web. (source)
- May 1994: Senator Kennedy becomes first U.S. senator with an official web site. (source)
- February 1996: Voted in favor of telecommunications deregulation. (source)
- January 2001: Member of the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee, meant to promote the growth and advancement of the Internet and maximize the openness of and participation in government by the people. (source)
- January 2002: No Child Left Behind passed, including the Enhancing Education Through Technology Program (EETT), which appropriated over $260 million in fiscal year 2008 to high schools for technology grants and training.
- 2006: In Massachusetts, Kennedy helps open a NASA Explorers School, bringing NASA research directly into the curriculum of an underserved community.(source)
- September 2006: Senator Kennedy comes out strongly in favor of Net Neutrality in an official YouTube post (see below), calling it “a critical issue of our day.”
- May 2009: Successfully lobbied for a $25 million investment in wind blade technology testing. (source)
- Summer 2009: Kennedy champions health care reform, a key component of which is modernizing medical systems to reduce waste and cut costs. (source)
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