Edmond, Okla. (June 24, 2013) – On June 6, 2013, President Obama announced the ConnectED initiative, a plan to connect 99 percent of U.S. students to the Internet within five years via high-speed wireless and broadband. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been called upon to “modernize and leverage” the E-rate program, including a proposed funding increase. Funds For Learning®, the nation’s largest E-rate compliance services firm, met with the FCC to submit the firm’s E-rate 2.0 proposal, which provides recommended steps for implementing ConnectED.
The proposal would “create an Erate program that is future-ready, equitable, predictable and scalable,” said Funds For Learning CEO John D. Harrington.
“Students are our nation’s most vital resource. High-speed Internet access and new digital resources offer America’s students and teachers an unparalleled opportunity,” said Harrington. “Our country cannot afford to fall behind in today’s new global digital economy. We owe it to our students, families, communities and nation to provide these high-speed connections.”
Demand for Internet access in schools and libraries has nearly tripled in the past 15 years, yet E-rate funding has grown by only 6 percent. President Obama’s ConnectED plan will address this gap, according to Harrington.
Funds For Learning has seen firsthand how the growth in Internet technologies in education is straining the E-rate program. According to Funds For Learning analysis, 95 percent of K-12 students in the U.S. are listed on E-rate applications. But the current E-rate funding level and program rules – based on a 1997 perspective of the Internet – severely limit the program’s ability to help those students.
“We have been listening to the concerns of the education community. A majority of applicants describe their current Internet infrastructure as lagging and not equipped to meet future needs,” said Funds For Learning President Cathy Cruzan. “The E-rate is essential. We agree with President Obama that the FCC should modernize the E-rate system to help ensure our students and library patrons are connected.”
In October 2012, Funds For Learning released the results of a national survey of E-rate applicants. Ninety percent of survey respondents stated that the E-rate program is critical to their success, and a majority expressed concern over the lack of adequate funding for the program. Full survey results are available online here.
“We care deeply about changes to improve and protect Erate funding, and we are grateful that President Obama has demanded better access to technology for our students,” said Brian Stephens, senior technology and regulatory analyst at Funds For Learning. “We support ConnectED and the President’s goal of equipping our students and teachers with competitive access to technology.”
Funds For Learning
Funds For Learning, LLC, is an E-rate compliance firm specializing in guiding E-rate applicants through the E-rate regulatory process and is an advocate for the use of educational technologies and student Internet access. Formed in 1997, Funds For Learning provides professional advice and assistance relating to the E-rate program to clients in all 50 states. For more information, visit www.FundsForLearning.com or phone 405-341-4140.