WASHINGTON, D.C. – Feb. 5, 2014 – The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE®) applauds the Obama administration’s recent work to boost technology investment in education, including the immediate use of E-Rate funds to improve broadband access for schools and libraries, and the push for next-generation professional development support for teachers. ISTE welcomes these moves and encourages the administration and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take additional steps on E-Rate, such as raising the program's annual funding cap. 

ISTE recognizes that reallocating $2 billion in existing E-Rate funds helps kick-start a more robust deployment of high-speed Internet access to address a short-term need, especially for districts across the country that are implementing online assessments, personalizing education and using data to drive decisions. However, comments filed by more than 600 educators last fall, including ISTE members, demonstrated overwhelming support for an increase in E-Rate funds. For the past two years, E-Rate demand has been at or above $5 billion, but the cap of $2.25 billion remains largely unchanged. 

“The Obama administration’s commitment to stimulating technology investment in education is timely,” said ISTE CEO Brian Lewis. “But too many schools still lack access to high-speed Internet and don’t have the infrastructure necessary for digital learning to flourish.” 

Current trends in digital learning, including adoption of 1:1 programs using mobile devices and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives, are straining schools’ networks. A number of recent surveys about broadband access in schools report that a majority of districts will have to increase their bandwidth in the coming years to support digital learning and that less than a third currently have adequate connectivity to support needs. 

“The administration’s position that high-speed broadband is essential to enhancing individualization of learning in a connected classroom is spot on. Now, we need to make sure it’s attainable for all districts and work toward a permanent increase the annual funding cap,” said Lewis.

ISTE supports the FCC’s efforts to modernize and simplify the program so that the application process is easier.  The organization also supports the FCC’s commitment to bringing greater efficiencies and a business-minded approach to the program. 

ISTE further backs the administration’s funding request for next-generation professional development. Educators worldwide currently use the ISTE Standards to develop new pedagogies for digital learning. Introduced in 1998, the ISTE Standards are the definitive framework used by educators as the foundation for innovative instructional design. They foster the transformation of learning and teaching in a connected world and identify what it means to function in today’s technology powered society. 

“We’re grateful for the administration’s leadership on these issues and for its down-payment to connect 20 million students to high-speed broadband in 15,000 schools,” said Lewis. “Let’s work together to fund the next-generation professional development program and increase the E-Rate cap so students have connected learning environments where they can build real-world skills and knowledge.” 

About ISTE

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE®) is a nonprofit organization supporting 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.

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