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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler to Address Future of E-rate on Digital Learning Day, Wednesday, February 5

“When it comes to accessing the internet, many of the nation’s teachers and students are stuck on a two-lane road in a superhighway world,” said Gov. Bob Wise.

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Alliance for Excellent Education announced that Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler will address the future of the E-rate program at the Alliance’s Digital Learning Day national showcase at the Library of Congress Wednesday, February 5. Chairman Wheeler’s remarks will come on the heels of the State of the Union Address in which President Obama reiterated his goal to connect 99 percent of students to high-speed broadband over the next five years. (Register to watch the live webstream of Chairman Wheeler’s remarks).

“When it comes to accessing the internet, many of the nation’s teachers and students are stuck on a two-lane road in a superhighway world,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “Just as the construction of the interstate highway system closed a distance divide in the United States by connecting individuals and making travel faster, high-speed broadband can bring today’s schools into the twenty-first century to do the same for the digital divide.”

Since its inception, the E-rate program has played a vital role in connecting the nation’s schools and libraries. When the U.S. Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, only 14 percent of classrooms had internet connection and most schools with internet access used dial-up internet access. Thanks to the E-rate program, virtually every school in America today is connected to the internet, but more work remains. For example, slow download speeds and intermittent connections prevent teachers and students from accessing engaging content and rigorous course material.

Spearheaded by the Alliance for Excellent Education, Digital Learning Day recognizes schools and school districts that use effective applications of education technology to support teachers, improve learning, and help students achieve at their highest potential.

As part of Digital Learning Day on February 5, the Alliance will host a national showcase that will be streamed live from the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. The showcase will be moderated by Judy Woodruff, coanchor and managing editor of the PBS NewsHour and will feature Acting U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education James H. Shelton III, U.S. Representative George Miller, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, Wyoming Department of Education Director Rich Crandall, and Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery.

The national showcase will also feature educators and students from schools and school districts that are using technology to make a positive difference in student learning, including those in Talladega, Alabama; Beaverton, Oregon; Henry County, Georgia; Hillsborough, Florida; Albemarle County, Virginia; and West Windsor Township, New Jersey.

In addition to the national showcase, tens of thousands of teachers and millions of students from all fifty states and the District of Columbia will participate in thousands of state and local events, including the more than 1,000 local events that educators have added to the Digital Learning Day website. In conducting their events, educators will be tapping the interactive lesson plans and teaching toolkits—also available on the Digital Learning Day website—in several different subject areas, including English language arts, math, science, social studies, and more.

“Digital Learning Day has become a worldwide event for showcasing how technology can improve student outcomes and support teachers,” said Wise. “I encourage everyone—educators, parents, students, and members of the media—to visit or contact your local school and school district to see what they are doing to celebrate Digital Learning Day and learn how you can get involved.”

Visit for additional information, including local events, teacher toolkits, and more.


The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC–based national policy and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all students, particularly those traditionally underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship.