This week I joined 100 organizations signing a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Wheeler, Commissioner Clyburn, Commissioner O’Reilly, Commissioner Rosenworcel, and Commissioner Pai.

The purpose of this filing is not to express what each of us separately believes is the best possible plan. Rather, it is to provide the FCC with a recommendation from a diverse group of parties, many enmeshed and knowledgeable about the details of the program, for a framework and set of actions to achieve our common goal of updating the E-rate program to bring today’s schools and libraries into the digital age.

The proposed framework focuses on four elements:

  1. Upgrade the Program.
  2. Focus expenditures on providing broadband to classrooms and libraries to meet capacity needs today and into the future.
  3. Incent schools and libraries to purchase bandwidth more efficiently.
  4. Simplify the process for schools and libraries to apply for funds.

We agree on a lot. Multi-year contracts, streamlined processes and increased transparency; incentives for consortia contracts; and better data collection on current broadband speeds. Perhaps most important, we all believe changes are needed to “the E-Rate program so our nation’s schools and libraries will have sufficient bandwidth to use robust digital learning strategies to improve student outcomes and increase digital opportunities for everyone.” High capacity, affordable broadband is now foundation for learners everywhere.  Join us is asking the Federal Communications Commission to modernize the E-rate program now and watch for news from the FCC at their upcoming meeting in July 11th.

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