President Obama affirms commitment to broadband for K-12 during SOTU

FCC chairman Wheeler states the Commission will apply ‘business-like management practices to E-Rate.’

In conjunction with President Obama’s State of the Union Address on January 28, the White House issued a document to media titled “Opportunity for All: Key Executive Actions the President Will Take in 2014.” Included in the document were multiple mentions of the president’s intention to follow through on his commitment to providing leading-edge technology to K-12 schools.

“Connecting 20 million students in 15,000 schools to the best technology to enrich K-12 education” was one of the specific executive actions named. The White House explained, “The FCC is making a major down payment on the president’s ConnectED goal of connecting 99 percent of students to next-generation broadband and wireless technology within five years. In the coming weeks the president will announce new philanthropic partnerships—including by companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint and Verizon.”

Later in the same document, the White House detailed, “Technology has the potential to transform education in America, allowing students to learn more, to do so at their own pace, and to develop knowledge and skills employers demand. The president announced his ConnectED initiative in June to make this opportunity real for all American students, starting with his goal of connecting 99 percent of students to next-generation connectivity within five years.

“The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) answered the president’s call to action last August and announced efforts to modernize and expand the E-Rate program, to bring it into the modern era, and more fully meet the needs of schools and libraries as they connect high-speed broadband. In his State of the Union address, the president announced that with the support of the FCC, we will make a major down payment on his goal, connecting more than 15,000 schools and 20 million students over the next two years—without adding a dime to the deficit. Companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint and Verizon are answering the call, and in the coming weeks, the president will highlight further details of new programs and partnerships that will accelerate his vision of technology-enriched classrooms across America.”

After the State of the Union address was delivered, FCC chairman Thomas Wheeler issued an announcement stating in part, “We’ve already launched an effort to modernize our successful E-Rate program—the nation’s largest education technology program. By applying business-like management practices to E-Rate, we can take steps this year that will make existing funds go farther to significantly increase our investment in high-speed broadband connectivity for schools and libraries for the benefit of our students and teachers.

“In the Internet age, every student in America should have access to state-of-the-art educational tools, which are increasingly interactive, individualized and bandwidth-intensive.”

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