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Voices in Support of E-Rate Modernization

Friday is a big day that will shape digital learning opportunities in schools and classrooms for years to come. The FCC will consider a Report and Order (R&O) that would advance E-rate modernization by expanding support for Wi-Fi connectivity in schools and libraries.

If the R&O is adopted by a majority vote in something similar to the form proposed by Chairman Wheeler, the major work of the next few years under a modernized E-rate will be a renewed focus on school broadband access, aligned to the President’s goal of deploying high-capacity broadband to 99% of students by 2017.

If the R&O, however, is not adopted, the prospects for directing new ideas and new resources to this critical national need become much less certain – and it is today’s students whose educational opportunities swing in the balance. Indeed, as Blair Levin – the principal architect of the National Broadband Plan and former FCC Chief of Staff at the time the E-rate was initially conceived and implemented – argues, the current E-rate modernization debate is at its core “about the relative trade off of time and money.” At SETDA, we concur and believe that it is past due time to act. As we wrote in 2012:

It is a simple fact that access to high-speed broadband is now as vital a component of K-12 school infrastructure as electricity, plumbing, air conditioning and heating. The same tools that have transformed and enriched our personal, civic and professional lives are dramatically improving learning experiences intended to prepare today’s students for college and 21st century careers. Given that bandwidth capacity determines which online content, educational applications, and digital learning service students and educators can use effectively in the classroom, it is in the national interest to ensure a baseline broadband capacity in and throughout all schools and to incent continued digital learning innovation.

We are not alone at SETDA in believing that moving forward with the current proposal is the right thing for today’s students. Consider just some of the many other notable national and state voices in support of advancing E-rate modernization:

We offer our thanks and deep appreciation to the leaders of these agencies and organizations (and many, many others not listed above) who have worked tirelessly to support E-rate modernization and dramatically improve broadband access in schools and libraries. The R&O before the FCC represents a strong first step at a time that we cannot afford further delays or continued uncertainty. E-rate modernization won’t be done – not by a long-shot – but a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

More from SETDA on E-rate modernization:

Select media coverage on E-rate modernization:

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