On April 22, the Alliance for Excellent Education submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) names of nearly 3,000 educators, students, and citizens who support the continued expansion and modernization of high-speed broadband connections in schools and libraries across the nation. These signatures demonstrate the need for the FCC to act to reach the goal of connecting 99 percent of students to high-speed internet in five years.
“The FCC is poised to take action that would connect millions of students to high-speed internet in their schools and libraries across the country. Access to high-speed internet has the power to transform and equalize education—particularly in the lowest-performing schools—by connecting students everywhere with high-quality curriculum facilitated by high-quality teaching,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “Through this petition, the voices of thousands will be heard.”
The FCC administers the federal E-rate program, which provides discounts to schools and libraries on internet and telephone services. Created in 1996, E-rate has increased the percentage of America’s schools with internet access from 14 percent to 94 percent. While this is a significant accomplishment, the program has not been updated to meet modern high-speed demands—until now.
On February 5, Digital Learning Day, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced an additional $2 billion in funding to support access to high-speed broadband. This summer the FCC is expected to vote to modernize the program by making it more efficient and focusing on twenty-first-century technology like high-speed broadband and wireless internet connections.
The Alliance-generated petition supports the FCC’s current effort as an important first step, but also calls for further action from the commission to increase permanently the size of the program in order to achieve the goal of connecting 99 percent of students to high-speed broadband in five years. The petition represents numerous educators, students, and members of the public who support additional FCC action to strengthen E-rate.
“For the first time in nearly two decades, the FCC is poised to bring major reform that has the potential to dramatically improve learning and outcomes in our nation’s schools. Now is the time for the FCC to take permanent action to make that goal a reality,” said Wise.
Visit http://www.99in5.org to learn more about the need to expand and modernize E-rate.