Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler outlined a proposal to increase funding for the E-rate program which reduces the telecommunications costs of schools and libraries. The following statement may be attributed to Charles Benton, the Chairman of the Benton Foundation:
The Benton Foundation welcomes FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal to increase investment in high-speed connections to better education. Our children’s future is worth every penny.
One of the most important challenges of our generation is to ensure that every child in every classroom — no matter how rural or isolated that classroom — has a chance to succeed and win in the global economy. Poverty, discrimination, isolation and ignorance hold our country back. But investments in education, infrastructure and technology spur economic growth, creating more good jobs and wealth for all of us, and these investments are especially needed in rural areas. It is in our national interest to ensure that every child — no matter who they are, no matter what they look like, no matter where they come from — has the opportunity to succeed.
And we cannot forget about the integral part libraries play in supporting 21st century learning. Their access to advanced technology and the supporting bandwidth needed to deploy this technology is imperative. Children and adults who do not have access at home rely on libraries to supplement their educational efforts. After school, libraries are the place children go to complete their homework. And for many adults who also do not have high speed access to the Internet, the library is the only place with the technology needed to seek adult education opportunities, apply for a job, access government services or stay in touch with relatives throughout the world. Providing critical E-rate funding for libraries will ensure that all communities have equal access to information and lifelong learning.
For more, see Mr. Benton's Who Will We Leave Behind? on the importance of equitable broadband connections for all students.