WASHINGTON, D.C. –Oct. 31, 2013 –There’s still time to have an impact on the future of the E-Rate thanks to the extension of the deadline for filing comments to Nov. 8. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted this extension following the recent 16-day government shut down.

“The impact of the E-Rate program on our schools has been transformational, but as technology evolves, so must E-Rate. That is why I called for the FCC to begin a proceeding to update the program. Now is the time for educators and educational professionals from around the Nation to weigh in with the FCC. We must help build a record about the need for next-generation Internet connectivity in our schools and libraries," said United States Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV. "The global economy demands an increasingly educated workforce with higher skills and strong backgrounds in science, math and technology. Our students must have access to high-speed Internet connectivity to gain the skills necessary to compete.”

Notwithstanding the unavailability of the FCC’s electronic filing system during the shutdown, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE®) members from around the country continued to share their voices through a simple and easy-to-complete, online form on the association’s web site. To date more than 1,000 individuals have filed comments on the E-Rate update and ISTE has generated approximately 40 percent of the filings. 

“The FCC’s deadline extension will allow even more educators to tell the Commissioners about the positive impact that the E-Rate program has had on learning and teaching in their communities,” said ISTE CEO Brian Lewis. “We encourage all of our members to add their voices to their colleagues who have already submitted comments. Together we can bring high speed broadband to our nation’s children.”

ISTE Board Members Betsy Goeltz, Kathy Shrock and Sheryl Nussbaum Beach are among those who have told the FCC about the value of the E-Rate program.  Each offered a different perspective on the success of the program, but all three urged the Commissioners to increase the program’s funding to at least $5 billion to meet current demand. 

In her filing, Goeltz, who is a principal at Ellis Elementary in Pocatello, Idaho, said, “I know that seamlessly infusing digital learning throughout the curriculum is a prerequisite for students to graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in today’s global economy. Access to high-speed broadband is the key to allowing modern teaching and learning to occur in all schools across the country.”

Continuing she said, “All students need access to high-speed broadband. Our nation’s future depends on their success.”

As the retired technology director of the Nauset Public Schools in Massachusetts, Schrock wrote of the value of the E-Rate to her former district as well as her national view of the program’s success. She also said, “Many schools districts, including the Nauset Public Schools, are failing to keep up with the bandwidth demand, and the need for reliable, high-speed networks is only going to increase in the near future.” 

Having provided professional development to thousands of teachers in the U.S. and around the globe, Sheryl Nussbaum Beach, the CEO of Powerful Learning Practice in Virginia Beach, told the Commissioners, “The E-Rate program has been a phenomenal success in bringing internet access to almost every classroom in America. But we can't stop there. If our children graduate from our schools not being literate in the very skills that will enable success then aren't we adding to the chasm between the haves and the have nots?”

Educators interested in joining these ISTE Board Members and others around the country to tell the FCC about the ways E-rate has improved teaching and learning in their schools or districts should visit: https://www.iste.org/about-iste/advocacy/e-rate. 

About ISTE

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE®) is the premier membership association for educators and education leaders committed to empowering connected learners in a connected world. Home to ISTE’s conference and expo and the widely adopted ISTE Standards for learning, teaching and leading in the digital age, the association represents more than 100,000 professionals worldwide. For more information, visit iste.org. Follow ISTE on Twitter @ISTEConnects. 

For more information, press only:

Jodie Pozo-Olano, ISTE, 202-861-7777 x121, jpozoolano@iste.org

Lisa Wolfe, L. Wolfe Communications, 773-278-2800, lwolfe@lwolfe.com


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