The Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee held a hearing today on the nomination of Mr. Thomas Wheeler to be Chairman, Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (WV) used the occasion to highlight the priority of ensuring that the nation’s students and schools have access to digital learning opportunities through expansion of the E-Rate program. This effort received a significant boost recently when President Obama proposed his ConnectEd initiative, calling on the FCC to take steps to improve and extend the E-Rate.
SIIA strongly supports expansion of the E-Rate program, and applauds both President Obama and Senator Rockefeller for their proposals and leadership. Expanding the E-Rate program will help transform the educational experience for the nation’s students by expanding the availability of high-quality digital learning opportunities. Swift action on this initiative is also critical to support full implementation of new college- and career-ready standards and aligned online assessments.
SIIA President Ken Wasch commented today:
“The nation’s students and schools require modern tools to compete in an increasingly digital, connected and competitive world. SIIA applauds President Obama for his proposal to enhance the E-Rate program to ensure all students and educators can realize the educational benefits made possible by technology. SIIA calls on the Federal Communications Commission to act swiftly to ensure these increased resources can quickly and effectively be directed to teaching and learning objectives.”
SIIA supports and has championed increased public investments in education targeted to both improve access to, and enhance the use of, educational technologies. Learning technologies are needed to improve educational opportunities, student engagement and the personalization of learning. Yet, SIIA’s soon to be released 2013 Vision K-20 educator survey results found that, while their goal for access to robust bandwidth is 3.98 (on a 1-4 scale), educators rate their actual access as only 3.14. Similarly, their need for ubiquitous, wireless access to resources and services ranks as a 3.89, but their actual access is only a 2.64.
Mark Schneiderman is Senior Director of Education Policy at SIIA.