Education Groups Applaud 1-year Anniversary of FCC Vote to Modernize E-Rate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

Alexandria, Va. – Dec. 11, 2015EdLiNC, a coalition of school and library associations, committed to ensuring schools and libraries have the broadband connectivity they need for teaching and learning in the 21st century, today released a statement to mark the one-year anniversary of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote to modernize the E-Rate program and increase annual funds by $1.5 billion:

“On behalf of the nation’s schools and libraries, and the students and communities they serve, we commend the Federal Communications Commission on the one-year anniversary of its historic vote to modernize the E-Rate program, including a critical $1.5 billion funding cap increase. A single vote culminated a multi-year effort, and our groups are proud to have collaborated with the FCC Commissioners and countless other stakeholders, all of whom proved to be tireless advocates committed to addressing the connectivity needs of our nation’s students, educators and community members.”

The E-Rate program, known more formally as the Schools and Libraries Program within the Universal Service Fund, provides discounts to support schools and libraries in the U.S. to ensure affordable broadband connectivity to the Internet. Prior to the FCC’s vote to modernize the program, school and library E-Rate applications regularly exceeded available funding nearly three-fold. Since the E-rate program’s creation as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, U.S. Department of Education surveys show that Internet access in public schools increased from 35 percent to 95 percent, and library connectivity grew from only 28 percent of public libraries providing public Internet access, to today’s reality, where virtually all libraries provide free access to Internet-enabled computers and WiFi, according to the 2014 Digital Inclusion Survey.

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“A year ago today, we watched as the Federal Communications Commission, under the leadership of Chairman Wheeler, Commissioners Rosenworcel and Clyburn and their colleagues, voted to modernize the E-Rate program and provide funding to adequately support these critical changes. In a time where innovation drives many education discussions, but not always with appropriate support, this historic vote represents a long-term commitment to and prioritization of connectivity for our nation’s schools and libraries and the students, teachers, parents and community members they serve.” Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director, AASA, The School Superintendents Association

“E-Rate represents a seemingly simple, yet hugely transformative force in the way our nation’s students and communities access connectivity in schools and libraries across the country. One year ago today, we watched as FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler, Commissioners Rosenworcel and Clyburn, and their colleagues voted to modernize the E-Rate program. Their leadership was the final step in a multi-year effort to ensure access to affordable broadband connectivity was no longer a dream, but a reality, an effort that AESA remains proud of and committed to.” Lee Warne, Executive Director, Association of Educational Service Agencies (AESA)

“This was a milestone vote for libraries to help address the growing digital divide. Last year, the Commission laid the groundwork for libraries and schools to increase broadband capacity to and within their buildings with the December 11 vote that brought the E-Rate modernization proceeding to a historic close—increasing available funding and updating the program to support more broadband options. ALA deeply appreciates the foresight of Chairman Wheeler and his colleagues to design a program that can meet the 21st century needs of the nation’s libraries and schools and the communities they serve.” Sari Feldman, President, American Library Association (ALA)

“One year ago, the Federal Communications Commission acted to modernize and support connectivity in our nation’s schools and libraries. In voting to update the E-Rate program, Chairman Wheeler, Commissioners Rosenworcel and Clyburn, and their colleagues ensured that schools and libraries, and the students and communities they serve, have access to affordable broadband connectivity.” John Musso, Executive Director, Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO)

“History will favorably mark the landmark decision by the FCC to invest in broadband and WiFi for every classroom and enable digital learning. Thank you, on behalf of America’s students.” Keith Krueger, CEO, Consortium for School Networking (CoSN)

“The new E-Rate program has been a huge step forward for America’s students and educators. Thanks to the FCC’s approval of a desperately needed funding increase, our schools are on a path to robust connectivity. The transformative potential of meaningful engagement of technology in learning must be available to all schools, educators and students, and access to that potential relies on programs like E-Rate. ISTE applauds Chairman Wheeler and Commissioners Clyburn and Rosenworcel for their leadership in this historic achievement.” Brian Lewis, Chief Executive Officer, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)

“One year ago, a single vote helped usher in an era of modernization for so many of our nation’s schools and libraries in need. Thanks to the E-Rate program, students now have access to the digital age and the technology needed to provide them with a well-rounded and complete education. On behalf of our nation’s elementary and middle schools, principals offer our heartfelt thanks to the FCC Commission members who led this critical effort.” Gail Connelly, Executive Director, National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP)  

“This E-rate anniversary is an important marker for states as they prepare for a reauthorized ESEA. The expanded broadband access that E-rate funding provides enables states to implement important education reforms that help ensure all students are prepared for college, career, and civic life – regardless of where they live.” Kris Amundson, Executive Director, National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE)

“As NASSP Digital Principal Daisy Dyer Duerr noted just before the FCC’s historic vote last year, reliable broadband is the only way to connect rural students with people and resources to which they would not otherwise have access. The E-Rate expansion represents the nation’s commitment to ensuring broadband for rural students and for all students. Digital connectivity is essential for a complete 21st century education, and we use this occasion to applaud the FCC for its commitment both to educational excellence and equity.” JoAnn D. Bartoletti, Executive Director, National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)

“While Catholic schools have participated in the E-Rate program since its inception, most schools had received discounts for telecommunications and Internet services but not classroom broadband connectivity. The modernization actions and additional funding will allow thousands more Catholic schools to move from basic connectivity to providing the bandwidth necessary to support digital learning and access online resources that transform teaching and learning.” Brother Robert Bimonte, President, National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA)

“The Commission’s bold and historic action a year ago continues to help to level the playing field and ensure equitable access to the Internet for all students, regardless of their zip code. On the one-year anniversary of the signing of the E-Rate Modernization Order, we are delighted to note that the program continues to play an important and vital role in helping provide high-speed broadband to communities that need it most – students and educators in urban, rural, and low-density populated areas. The much-needed annual investment in the E-Rate Modernization Order also is going a long way toward setting these students off toward a great future.” Lily Eskelsen García, President, National Education Association (NEA)

“Without broadband connectivity, the promise of education technology cannot be fulfilled. The Federal Communications Commission’s historic modernization of the E-Rate program last year brought us one step closer to providing access to essential 21st century learning tools to all of the nation’s school children, their libraries, and their neighborhoods and communities.” Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director, National School Boards Association (NSBA)

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For specific questions about E-Rate, please contact Noelle Ellerson, AASA associate executive director, policy and advocacy, at nellerson@aasa.org.

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. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.