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Letter to Senate Commerce Committee: Support the E-rate Program

March 12, 2013

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the National Education Association’s more than three million members, we would like to offer the following views in connection with today’s hearing, “Oversight of the Federal Communications Commission.”

Since its inception in 1996, the E-rate program has, for countless students, opened the door to the 21st century skills they need to compete in today’s global economy. The program has had overwhelming success in connecting our nation’s schools and classrooms to the Internet.

The E-rate provides students with a wealth of resources and robust educational opportunities. It also helps bridge the digital divide. “Approximately 19 million Americans did not have access to fixed broadband,” said the Federal Communications Commission’s Eighth Broadband Progress Report, released in August 2012. “Significantly, approximately 76 percent of these Americans reside in rural areas.”  

The E-rate program is highly successful and helps address inequities born of lack of Internet access at home. For many of our nation’s students, the classroom is the only place they can access the Internet. In FY2012, program requests reached an all-time high of $5.2 billion in discounts, roughly double the amount available. 

The increasing demand for the E-rate demonstrates the crucial need to continue to support its mission. Investing in our students is investing in America. For the sake of the future of our students and our nation, we urge you to continue to support the E-rate program.  

We thank the committee for the opportunity to provide our views on this vitally important issue. We look forward to working with you to ensure that our nation’s schools have the robust Internet connectivity necessary to educate the next generation of Americans for the 21st century.                                                                                                          

Sincerely, 

Mary Kusler
Director, Government Relations