Update: On July 11, the FCC approved Chairman Tom Wheeler’s E-rate modernization order. We applaud this decision as a crucial first step toward connecting all students with learning opportunities and ensuring schools are future ready. Let’s use this momentum to create modernization measures that are sustainable well into the future.
I’ve been known to have a glass-half-full outlook. That’s especially true when it comes to improving learning opportunities through technology and the Internet, particularly for underserved communities. So, although there is still much work to do, I’m encouraged by recent national efforts to connect 99 percent of America’s students to learning technologies, next-generation broadband, and high-speed wireless in schools and libraries.
After months of input from many stakeholders, on June 20, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Tom Wheeler, circulated an E-rate modernization order intended to be the next step in the FCC’s broader work to reform the program. E-rate, an 18-year-old program, has been successful at providing subsidies for Internet connectivity to schools and libraries; now we must expand it to ensure all schools are future ready.
There are three elements of the order are particularly promising.
This E-rate order provides an opportunity to use available funds today to improve connectivity for millions of students. To avoid sending a message that access to learning opportunities is a fixed or short-term concern, the modernization process must continue beyond the first order. This immediate action can help us take advantage of the growing opportunity to improve learning right away and continue to do so going forward.