AASA Applauds Chairman Wheeler and FCC on Proposed Increase in E-Rate Funding

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
James Minichello
703-875-0723
703-774-6953 (cell)
jminichello@aasa.org

Alexandria, Va. – Nov. 17, 2014 – Today, Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, announced a proposed increase of $1.5 billion for the E-Rate program. Today’s announcement follows programmatic changes to the E-Rate program this July, and demonstrates both the chairman and the FCC’s unwavering commitment to bolstering school connectivity.

The E-Rate modernization effort spanned more than 18 months, during which AASA, The School Superintendents Association, consistently advocated for a two-pronged approach that combined both programmatic changes and raising the funding cap. AASA is pleased to see its priorities reflected in the FCC’s announcement and commends Chairman Wheeler for not only hearing, but listening to, educators and school system leaders across the country.

“AASA applauds the Chairman’s continued leadership on E-Rate. Today’s proposal to raise the program’s funding cap is a critical complement to the recently adopted program changes,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA. “Together, the changes from July and the provision of sustained, adequate funding through the cap increase represent an unprecedented effort to ensure educational opportunities to our nation’s schools and the students they serve. The FCC’s proposal focuses on broadband connections for schools, especially those in rural communities, and ensures that our nation’s schools remain able to keep pace with ever increasing connectivity needs.”

The additional $1.5 billion equates to an additional 16 cents per month per line, or less than one penny per day or the cost of a cup of coffee per year.

“An investment of this magnitude, with a seemingly small impact on consumers but a huge benefit for children, teachers, local communities and American competitiveness, is significant and represents strong, sound policy,” said Domenech. “It demonstrates the FCC’s ongoing commitment to the core values of the E-Rate program, including access to 21st century learning opportunities, equity, and supporting—in a sustainable way—the E-Rate program’s transition from mere connectivity to sufficient capacity.”

David Pennington, AASA President; Superintendent, Ponca City Schools, Ponca City, Okla.
“AASA has long-supported a two-pronged approach to E-Rate modernization, both programmatic changes and adequate funding. Today’s announcement by Chairman Wheeler demonstrates that the voice of educators—including AASA members—has been heard. As our nation’s schools work to upgrade broadband infrastructure and expand Wi-Fi access, demand will outpace savings from E-rate modernization and broadband price reductions. Meeting the connectivity goals for all schools will require funding above the current E-rate cap, and today's announcement reflects that reality.”

Amy Sichel, AASA Past-President; Superintendent, Abington School District, Abington, Pa.
“AASA has an unwavering commitment to equity in education. The unfortunate reality is that access to connectivity is far from equitable among our nation's schools. In fact, 39 percent of schools in affluent areas currently meet speed targets, but only 14 percent of schools in low-income rural and urban areas meet those targets. Today’s announcement provides the additional sustained funding that is crucial to the continued success of the E-Rate program, including bolstering equity in connectivity.”

David Schuler, AASA President-Elect; Superintendent for Township High School District 214, Arlington Heights, Ill.
“The original E-rate program cap was set at $2.25 billion in 1997, and was unchanged until receiving annual inflation adjustment until late 2010. More than 60 percent of the Chairman’s proposed $1.5 billion cap increase represents simply a “catch up” of the lost inflation adjustment from 1997 to 2010. AASA strongly supports the FCC’s leadership on E-Rate and their unrelenting commitment to connecting the nation's schools and public libraries.”

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About AASA
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. The mission of AASA is to advocate for the highest quality public education for all students, and develop and support school system leaders. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.