Building on President Obama’s recent announcement to advance digital learning in our nations’ classrooms, NAESP and over 50 other national groups signed a letter to the Federal Communications Commission in support of ConnectED. ConnectED is a new initiative to help schools and libraries build capacity for high-speed internet connection and train educators on emerging technology.
The demand on schools to offer reliable high-speed broadband is only increasing, as districts in many states implement online assessments for the Common Core State Standards. ConnectEd’s goal is to connect 99 percent of American students with high-speed wireless internet access within five years. It would double the funds available to schools and libraries through the E-rate program.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) administers the E-rate program. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has voiced her commitment to modernize E-rate to provide at least 100 megabits of bandwidth per 1,000 students to every school by the 2015-2016 school year. E-rate, which since 1996 has provided money to connect schools and libraries with high-speed internet, is financed through the Universal Service Fund, a fee imposed on telecommunications service providers, which usualy is collected from a small fee applied to phone bills. Currently, the money available for the E-rate program is capped at a level that meets half the annual demand. ConnectEd does not require an act of Congress to be enacted; instead, the FCC must approve a tax increase for the Universal Service Fund, which is estimated to be less than 50 cents per month for average phone bills.
For more information, read this press release and the fact sheet from the White House website, along with these articles: Obama Unveils Proposal to Overhaul Federal E-rate Program, and Obama Promises to Have High-Speed Internet in Most Schools in 5 Years.