WASHINGTON, DC – A new analysis released today by the Alliance for Excellent Education and Funds for Learning® shows that more than 42,700 schools have accessed Wi-Fi services through the Federal Communications Commission’s (the FCC’s) E-rate program. The analysis provides a state-by-state breakdown of how much each state benefits from the program’s recent expansion to support high-speed Wi-Fi infrastructure and services in schools and libraries.
“E-rate is fueling the evolution of education,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “This program is moving classrooms from traditional instruction to transformational learning. America cannot afford for the FCC to back down from its commitment to providing all students with a twenty-first-century learning experience.”
In the first year of this expansion, the FCC provided $1 billion to support Wi-Fi infrastructure and services; 83 percent of these funds supported low-income schools. This is especially critical given that these students are nearly twice as likely to have slow internet access as their peers at more affluent schools.
“The E-rate program has transformed student lives over the years by bringing internet access into school buildings. Now, every K–12 student in America has the opportunity to get Wi-Fi access in their classroom,” said John Harrington, chief executive officer at Funds for Learning®. “This analysis shines a light on the positive impact of access in states and schools, helping us all to better understand the important role of E-rate funding.”
Although nearly all schools and libraries have access to the internet, broadband connections are not always sufficient to provide seamless service to students and teachers. As websites and education technology tools become more sophisticated, infrastructure often fails to keep up with usage demands.
“Instead of crashing computers and unreliable networks, students and teachers have more uninterrupted classroom time to focus on what really matters—engaging content and dynamic, personalized instruction,” said Wise. “As a result, millions of students, particularly those from low-income families, experience less ‘buffering’ and more connecting to teachers, to each other, and to the real world.”
Click on the chart below to view the state-by-state breakdown of E-rate funds.
The E-rate program has provided funds and discounts to make internet connectivity and other telecommunications services more affordable for schools and libraries since its creation in 1996. The greatest discounts are available to rural schools and libraries and those that serve high-poverty populations.
Learn how improved Wi-Fi services have opened doors for students and teachers alike at Silver Lake Unified School District (USD 372) in Kansas.
Access the E-rate chart at https://all4ed.org/erate-wifi-state-data/.
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The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC–based national policy, practice, and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring all students, particularly those traditionally underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship. www.all4ed.org
Funds For Learning® helps individual schools and libraries navigate the E-rate funding process and advocates for policies and regulations that support internet access for all students and library patrons. www.FundsForLearning.com