Please consider discussing this with your respective organizations and school districts and asking them to sign on to this letter in support of E-Rate Funding.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) recently sought additional comments (per a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-13-100A1.pdf, pg. 106) on the funding needs of the E-rate Program for Schools and Libraries http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/e-rate-schools-libraries-usf-program. State-wide organizations, school districts, schools, libraries, and others are encouraged to join in by signing onto a letter (letter posted below) demonstrating support for the E-rate program and our nation’s schools and public libraries. The deadline to sign-on is 12:00 p.m. ET (noon) on October 15, 2014. The time is now to demonstrate support for the Commission to act by making a permanent increase to E-rate funding. Since the program was established in 1998 and capped at $2.25 billion, E-rate funding has not been increased (aside from an annual inflationary adjustment starting in 2010). In a time when almost every single classroom and the majority of libraries in the nation have lower speed internet access than the average American home while serving multiple times more users per day, it is time to ensure all students and library patrons can access high speed broadband they need in their schools and public libraries to excel in school and beyond. More than 75 national organizations (including SETDA, other education associations, companies, and many others) recently submitted the same letter goo.gl/6dLRp5. The Commission must also hear from state and local entities, too!
- To sign on:
- * Please complete this form https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1Vz7OHrRIrvzrLvxMC48zEUAxEZy2WpkVGLVslAN6mEI/viewform?usp=send_form identifying how you’d like your organization to be included on the letter to the Commission. Please also include your name, title and email address.
October 15, 2014
Dear Chairman Wheeler and Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel, Pai and O’Rielly,
We, the undersigned state and local organizations, write to express our appreciation to the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) for seeking input on the funding needs of the E-rate program. With a united voice, we write to request a permanent increase in funding to the E-rate program to allow schools and public libraries to keep pace with the rapidly increasing connectivity demands that they face.
The E-rate program, in its first generation, proved an unprecedented success in expanding connectivity to the nation’s schools and libraries. In less than twenty years since Congress established the program, E-rate played a critical role in transforming the level of connectivity from less than one quarter of schools and libraries to nearly all connected today. However, the E-rate program’s job is not done. Achieving the broadband goals established by the Commission in July will require additional investment.
The influx of learning devices in classrooms and libraries has increased demands on networks. Yesterday’s connectivity speeds simply do not meet the needs of today’s students and library patrons. Efficient and dynamic classrooms and libraries need high-speed connectivity, and they need additional E-rate support to deliver it. E-rate must possess sufficient resources to ensure that all students and patrons can gain access in schools and libraries to the high speed broadband they need to excel in school and beyond. The E-rate program also benefits our nation’s educators, allowing them to take full advantage of the online and digital resources and tools needed to transform teaching and learning. America’s librarians are also being asked to do more than ever as they are seeing a growing demand for internet access as adult learning and workforce development are being re-envisioned in the wake of the economic recession.
In a time when almost every single classroom and the majority of libraries in the nation have lower speed internet access than the average American home while serving multiple times more users per day, it is time to ensure that our libraries and schools are connected with the quality of connectivity that is sufficient and scalable for today’s ever-growing connectivity needs. A sustainable, well-funded E-rate program is critical to ensuring educational opportunity and success for every student and library patron as we look to bolster the nation’s economic competitiveness.
A permanent increase in funding to the E-rate program is needed to ensure the following.
- Access to 21st century education and learning: Giving all students access to modern education requires having reliable infrastructure in place. The Commission must deliver on the shared goal of connecting students and adults to high-speed broadband through schools and libraries to support 21st century learning.
- From basic connectivity to capacity: To move from basic connectivity to meeting capacity needs, E-rate funding must be addressed now, not later. Any serious conversation about ensuring the sustainability of a successful E-rate program will include additional funding for the program. Nearly two decades of success later, the continued success of the E-rate depends on the program’s ability to not only expand access to connectivity, but to ensure access to adequate, sustainable capacity, and to do so with funding that is sufficient.
- Equity: As E-rate is sufficiently funded to expand and ensure adequate access to connectivity, we must maintain the program’s commitment to equity, including a focus on disadvantaged communities so that everyone, everywhere – rural, urban and suburban – has access to sufficient capacity.
To ensure the E-rate can provide sustainable broadband capacity to our nation’s schools and libraries, we call upon the Commission to permanently increase funding to support current and future goals of the E-rate program.