On December 11, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission voted to close the school and library connectivity gap by adjusting E-rate program rules and support levels in order to meet long-term program goals for high-speed connectivity to and within all eligible schools and libraries. The following was written by Charles Benton, Chairman of the Benton Foundation, and Amina Fazlullah, the Benton Foundation's Director of Policy:
“We cannot always build the future for our youth,” said President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “but we can build our youth for the future.” Today, the Federal Communications Commission improved education for all our young people by providing the tools to connect every school and library to high-capacity broadband -- and Wi-Fi connectivity that delivers critical education tools right to students’ desks.
This is a huge win for U.S. education.
By modernizing and funding the E-rate program for the 21st century, we will connect even the smallest, the poorest and the most rural classrooms and libraries to the world through the Internet.
The FCC is providing every child a key to unlock their potential. To develop the skills needed today and into the future, every American child must have access to the most cutting-edge learning tools, tools that can best be delivered by high-capacity broadband and Wi-Fi. Schools will now have the capacity to offer interactive and individualized learning, utilize high-definition streaming video, take advantage of the most innovative digital teaching tools, and provide modern science, technology, engineering, and math -- STEM – instruction. In libraries, patrons will be better able to participate in lifelong learning, seek jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities, and access government services.
The actions the FCC takes today are exactly what’s needed to ensure our country’s competitiveness in the 21st century. Connecting all schools to high-speed broadband will help re-establish the U.S. as a global leader in education — setting an example for other countries that are struggling to improve their educational systems. Today’s students are not just competing with kids across the hall, across town or across the country; they are competing with students around the globe whose countries have made high speed access to gigabit speed broadband in their schools a priority.
Make no mistake – the FCC’s decision today is not about dollars and cents or about bits and bytes – it is about opportunity. The FCC is closing the gap of access to high capacity for schools and libraries. The FCC is closing the affordability gap that has prevented many of these community institutions from handling the recurring costs of these connections. And the FCC is closing the funding gap that prevented investment in our educational infrastructure. Now all students will have the opportunity to develop the skills they need to succeed and prosper, and to realize the American Dream.