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NEA President: Historic new investment in E-Rate is a critical win for students

$1.5 billion annual increase in E-Rate Program will help 20 million students during the next 5 years


WASHINGTON - December 11, 2014 -

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today approved a historic increase in the E-Rate program, which aims to provide discounts to assist schools and libraries in the United States to obtain affordable telecommunications and Internet access. The National Education Association staunchly advocated to the FCC to increase the program’s funding on behalf students and of its 3 million members. The FCC approved a $1.5 billion hike in annual spending on broadband for schools and libraries. The additional funding will help over 20 million students during the next five years.

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García issued the following statement:

“The Federal Communications Commission’s historic approval to dramatically increase funding for the E-Rate program is a critical and much-needed win for America’s students and it makes for smart public policy. All of our students, regardless of their zip code, deserve access to the digital tools and the time to learn. Today’s action will go a long way to help level the digital playing field and ensuring equity. The first-ever significant increase in funding of the E-Rate Program will bring broadband to the communities that need it the most—students and educators in urban, rural, and low-density populated areas. More to the point, investing now in the E-Rate Program will pay off in the long run.

“Educators know first-hand the tremendous, positive impact the E-Rate Program has had in our classrooms, schools and communities. Without the E-Rate Program, many of our schools—especially in rural areas—would have been unable to sustain on-going access to the Internet. It’s worth noting that a cap in funding has been in place since the program’s inception 18 years ago. We know how much the world—and technology in particular—has changed since. The digital world today is not what the creators of E-Rate imagined when they designed the program. Today’s decision marks an important milestone to shift the focus towards the 21st century so that students and end-users can continue to benefit from digital connectivity in classrooms and schools around the country.

“We commend FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel for their leadership to fulfill the promise of digital learning in the 21st century. This is a positive step towards reaching the level of digital accessibility needed for all of our students to learn, create, and ultimately, compete in the global economy. It’s a fitting tribute that the FCC took this bold action as Senator Jay Rockefeller, the coauthor of the legislation that created E-Rate, says farewell to his illustrious career in public service.”

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The National Education Association (nea.org) is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez  (202) 822-7823, mgonzalez@nea.org


RELATED LINKS

NEA E-Rate Program resources

FCC proposes expansion of Internet access for low-income and rural schools

Educator feedback helps shape federal plan to modernize Internet access for students