eRate program, broadband upgrades are essential for students, group says
A group of 50 executives, innovators, and entrepreneurs joined the nonprofit organization EducationSuperHighway on Jan. 30 to urge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to modernize the federal eRate program – a move that will help advance President Obama’s ConnectED goal to connect 99 percent of America’s K-12 students to high-speed broadband in five years.
The group includes CEOs from American Express, Adobe, Airbnb, Bloomberg L.P., Dell, Dropbox, eBay, EMC Corporation, Facebook, Foursquare, Google, HP, Intuit, Microsoft, Netflix, Salesforce.com, Tory Burch, Xerox, and Yahoo and represents approximately $785 billion in annual economic activity and two million workers.
The nonprofit got a funding boost in December 2013, when Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates offered support for the organization. Zuckerberg’s Startup: Education and Gates’ foundation have contributed a combined $9 million to the nonprofit.
(Next page: Details from the letter)
In a joint letter to the FCC, the executives highlight the critical need to prepare America’s students for the knowledge economy, contending that robust internet access in schools is the foundation necessary to equip the nation’s youth to compete in tomorrow’s workforce.
The CEOs recommend that the FCC take swift action to modernize the eRate program by focusing on high-speed broadband, using capital investments to dramatically lower the cost of bandwidth for schools, and increasing transparency and accountability.
“This group of leading CEOs, innovators, and investors understands well the importance of making wise investments today to help us prosper tomorrow, and they are boldly calling on the FCC to ensure that the federal E-Rate program does just that,” said Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway. “Our nation’s businesses have been radically transformed by technology and our schools must keep pace to prepare our youth for the knowledge economy.”
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan applauded the recent support from America’s CEOs: “Providing our schools and students access to high-speed broadband is vital to their future and that makes it everybody’s business. I appreciate the work and thought of these leaders in helping to move forward the President’s ConnectED vision to provide modern tools to nearly all of our students and teachers in the next five years. By doing that, they are helping our students be prepared to compete for jobs in the 21st century global economy.”