In June, President Obama called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take the steps necessary to build high-speed digital connections to America’s schools and libraries, ensuring that 99 percent of American students can benefit from advances in teaching and learning. Improving our schools’ technology infrastructure—especially in rural and geographically-isolated communities—is necessary to unlock the power of technology to transform learning.
Last Friday, the FCC’s commissioners voted to move forward on the President’s challenge, and since then, a broad, diverse set of leaders from across the country spoke up in support of the FCC’s actions. Here is a collection of several of those statements:
Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee: I fully support the steps the FCC is taking to modernize the E-Rate program so that our schools and libraries can keep up with the digital demands of the 21st century. Expanding the speed of broadband, not just availability, is essential to this endeavor, and the proposed rulemaking will help advance America’s classrooms and libraries. We live in a world where broadband is a necessity, not a luxury, for the next generation to learn and compete.
Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia: By expanding high-speed internet in the nation’s schools and libraries, the federal government can ensure that teachers and students have access to tools that make learning more personalized and more engaging, making it possible for all students to reach their learning destinations.
Communications Workers of America (CWA): Our schools and libraries need much higher capacity networks to enable students to take advantage of the great potential of digital learning and new technological advances. Our goal should be at least 1 gibabit per second capacity to every school in our nation. Today’s FCC action is a good step forward.
American Library Association Executive Washington Office Director Emily Sheketoff: ALA has heard from dozens of our members sharing examples of what the E-rate program has enabled in our communities—particularly as it relates to meeting community employment, education and government online information and service needs. Library Internet access has been a lifeline and a virtual ladder for many Americans needing to stay afloat and move ahead in a time of economic turmoil and swift technological change. Now is the time to shift from making sure every library and school is connected to focusing on developing the telecommunications capacity desperately needed to support 21st-century digital learning needs.
Matthew M. Polka, American Cable Association (ACA) President and CEO: ACA applauds acting Chairwoman Clyburn and Commissioners Rosenworcel and Pai for initiating this serious review of the E-Rate program. ACA has many local service provider members that participate in the program and many others that are experienced voice and broadband providers whose participation could enhance the value of the program. That the program has been valuable for schools and libraries is unquestioned. We now need to address flaws in the program and reorient it to deliver today’s essential high-speed broadband service.
Brian Lewis, CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE): ISTE recognizes the leadership of President Obama, Senator Rockefeller, and Commissioner Rosenworcel, and we thank them for their ardent support of high-speed broadband connectivity for all of our nation’s students. ISTE plans to file substantive comments on the E-Rate NPRM, and we urge all education and library stakeholders to do the same.
American Association of School Administrations (AASA): AASA looks forward to working with the FCC as we move forward with this rulemaking, and we are committed to the idea that the final conversation will include a permanent, significant increase to the E-Rate funding cap. The increased funding, in addition to accompanying programmatic changes, will bolster the long-term success of both the E-Rate program and the students, schools, and libraries it supports.
John Hill, Executive Director, National Rural Education Association: The National Rural Education Association supports efforts of the President to extend broadband service to all schools, especially rural schools. The expansion of broadband provides rural schools opportunities to access a wider variety of educational offerings and services. Furthermore, the expansion will give rural communities additional tools for economic development and telemedicine.
Ken Wasch, president of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA): The E-Rate program has been a critical means for the nation’s schools and students to access the digital learning opportunities necessary for their success. SIIA applauds Acting Commissioner Clyburn and the Commission for their vote today to modernize and enhance the E-Rate program to better meet today’s needs and to better support our nation’s educational and economic competitiveness.
Learn more about President Obama’s plan for connecting all schools to the digital age.