Education Coalition Commends FCC for
Much-Needed Reforms to E-Rate Program
WASHINGTON – Today, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler announced the agency will double its investment – with an additional $2 billion over the next two years – in support of broadband networks in our nation’s schools and libraries. The FCC will also streamline the application process, increase transparency, provide more assistance to schools and libraries to help them lower the prices they pay, and will ramp up oversight and enforcement within the program to ensure every dollar that is intended to reach a school or library gets there.
The Chairman’s remarks support and advance many of the goals of this education coalition and represent an unprecedented momentum for reforming the E-Rate in a methodical and reasonable approach that does more with existing funds. In response to today’s announcement, the coalition issued the following statement:
”On behalf of the bipartisan coalition representing the top education leaders from every state in the nation, we commend Chairman Wheeler on his leadership to modernize the FCC’s E-Rate program and his commitment to reallocate existing funds to provide more than $2 billion to schools this year targeted to support our broadband future.
“New models of education are emerging, and a modernized E-Rate program must keep pace in order for it to remain relevant and truly have an impact. Our nation’s students cannot wait another school year without the benefits of the high-capacity broadband networks needed to succeed globally.
“Chairman Wheeler’s announcement is an important first step, and we commit to working closely with the FCC, the Administration and other stakeholders to tackle the difficult policy challenges that lie ahead. We are encouraged that Chairman Wheeler acknowledged the importance of providing incentives for the formation of consortia to provide technical leadership and buying power, particularly for small rural applicants. And we applaud the commitment to streamline the process to make it easier for applicants to secure funding.
“This is a great first step, but we must continue to work toward fostering a policy and regulatory environment that encourages and incentivizes long-term public and private investments in education innovation, as well as in training and professional development for teachers to transform teaching and learning through technology.”
The FCC’s announcement is made on Digital Learning Day, an annual celebration of the effective use of technology to support student success. Today, thousands of teachers are participating in nearly 2,000 events nationwide to highlight the promise of digital learning for today’s students.
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About the Coalition
The education coalition is comprised of Digital Learning Now!, a national initiative of theFoundation for Excellence in Education; the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Alliance for Excellent Education, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, Chiefs for Change, the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and Knowledge Alliance. The coalition submitted comments to the FCC in response to its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking to review and modernize the E-Rate program. The group seeks consensus-based solutions that will help ensure the FCC’s reforms are fully reflective of the education community’s needs for 21st-century learning.
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View this release online.