E-rate modernization workshop

On May 6, the FCC held an E-rate Modernization Workshop in Washington which “focused on the important goal of connecting all schools and libraries to high-capacity broadband networks, and effective strategies and lessons learned in achieving the goal.”

It brought together FCC officials and educators to discuss bringing the federal E-rate program into more schools and libraries.

Starting off the program, FCC Chair Tom Wheeler emphasized the centrality of programs like E-rate. “This could be,” he said, “the single most important issue this agency deals with... Because we talk a lot about broadband, but what’s important is not broadband, but what broadband enables. And if we’re not using that enablement to address the issue of how we educate our students and provide opportunity for our citizens, then shame on us.”

But, it’s not simply a matter of technology. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel mentioned that it was Teacher Appreciation Week, and “the question for modern education is, what tools do we make available for those teachers.”

Rosenworcel asked that the technology and education sectors work together. “All it takes now,” she said, “is a little bit of courage to take the E-rate program, reboot and reinvigorate it and we can push high-speed bandwidth into all of our schools and all of our classrooms and all of our libraries.”

The panel on schools and libraries featured people from the Baltimore County, Maryland Public Schools, the Chattanooga Public Library system, the director of National Indian Education Association and others.

At the workshop’s conclusion, Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said, “We’ve heard that for far too many Americans the schools and libraries are the only sources of conductivity and for others, even this level of conductivity is out of reach.”

At the FCC, she said, “we need to make sure to modernize the E-rate program, so all of our schools and libraries are able to take full advantage of the available benefits...”

Speed Matters agrees with these commissioners and supports enhancing and improving the E-rate program.

E-Rate Modernization Workshop (FCC, May 6, 2014)