“Together, we can—and will—bring the nation’s schools and libraries into the digital age,” says Gov. Bob Wise.
WASHINGTON, DC – This morning, the Alliance for Excellent Education submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) names and comments from more than 1,000 educators, students, and other citizens who support the expansion of broadband connections in schools and libraries across the nation. The petition urges the FCC to take swift action to provide 99 percent of America’s students with high-speed wireless internet access through next-generation broadband within the next five years.
“This is a critical moment for improving learning and outcomes in the nation’s schools, particularly in the lowest-performing schools. Internet access has the power to connect 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. “The FCC is poised to take action that will open the world to the nation’s students, and the voices of the 1,000 people who have signed this petition will be heard.”
The FCC administers the E-rate program, which provides discounts to schools and libraries on internet and telephone services. The successful program, which began in 1996, has helped to increase the percentage of America’s classrooms with internet access from 14 percent to 94 percent. While a significant accomplishment, the program has not been updated to meet modern demands. According to the FCC, half of E-rate applicants have slower internet connections than those in average American homes.
The extensive petition gives voice to the myriad educators, students, and members of the public who believe the FCC should take action to strengthen E-rate:
“Through E-rate, we have been able to provide more technological opportunities to our students than we would ever have been able to without E-rate. Expanding the program would help us continue to provide opportunities to help our students at all levels use twenty-first-century tools and develop their skills for the future.”
“Schools in our district have internet access, but the connection is too slow to accommodate teaching and learning.”
“Having high-speed internet access would give us the opportunity to cover more materials, and keep the student’s interest.”
“Digital equity is a requirement for student success in the twenty-first century.”
In addition to comments and names from the online petition, the Alliance for Excellent Education will also submit recommendations to expand the availability of the E-rate program, set ambitious capacity goals for E-rate, and ensure that E-rate effectively supports “anytime, anywhere” learning.
The Alliance joined more than fifty national organizations representing nearly every aspect of the nation’s education system as signatories on a letter to FCC Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn and FCC Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai earlier this year.
“With the help of all of those who signed this petition, we can—and will—bring the nation’s schools and libraries into the digital age,” said Gov. Wise.
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. www.all4ed.org
Save the date for Digital Learning Day 2014: February 5.
Follow the Alliance on Twitter (www.twitter.com/all4ed);
Facebook (www.facebook.com/all4ed); and
the Alliance’s “High School Soup” blog (www.all4ed.org/blog).