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Organizations Urge FCC To Take Action on ConnectED Initiative
More than 50 national organizations representing a wide range of educational interest groups have submitted a joint letter encouraging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take "swift action" to implement President Obama's ConnectED initiative.
The ConnectED initiative aims to connect 99 percent of the nation's students to high-speed Internet within five years and calls upon the FCC to update and use the existing E-rate program, which helps schools and libraries pay for Internet access.
With this letter, the signing organizations have endorsed the President's plan and asked the FCC to act quickly to "modernize and leverage" the E-rate program to implement high-speed wireless Internet access using next-generation broadband service in schools and libraries.
According to the letter, there is a "mismatch between student preparation and employer demands" and "by 2020, U.S. companies will have fewer than half the number of qualified
applicants for the 123 million high-skill jobs they will need to fill." The organizations argue that "the college- and career-ready standards and the forthcoming assessments aligned with them are largely dependent upon technology that is not yet readily available in far too many school districts across the country." To back up this claim, the letter refers to a 2010 FCC survey or E-rate-funded schools, which found that nearly 80 percent of respondents had inadequate broadband connections.
“The ConnectED initiative and the expansion and modernization of the E-rate program will help transform the technological infrastructure in the nation’s classrooms and libraries, allowing schools and communities to provide students with a twenty-first-century education,” the letter reads. “We, the undersigned, stand ready to support the FCC at this historic moment to connect all schools to the digital age.”
The signing organizations represent chief state school officers, school administrators, school boards, teachers, principals, librarians, students, parents, civil rights advocates, and the business community.
A PDF file of the letter, including the list of signing organizations, can be found on the Alliance for Excellent Education's site.
Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.