LEAD Co-Chair Testifies on Capitol Hill

LEAD Commission Co-Chair Testifies at Senate Commerce Committee Hearing

July 17, 2013 - Today, Jim Coulter, Co-Founder of TPG and co-chair of the Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) Commission, testified at the Senate Commerce Committee’s Hearing on “E-Rate 2.0: Connecting Every Child to the Transformative Power of Technology.” Coulter’s testimony reflected the work of the LEAD Commission in studying the current state of technology in schools and the Commission’s recommendations moving forward.

Below are some key excerpts from Coulter’s testimony. Click here for the full submitted testimony. 

In addition to Coulter’s testimony this week, LEAD Commissioners Jim Steyer and Margaret Spellings will be speaking at the FCC’s Open Hearing on Friday.

EXCERPTS FROM COULTER TESTIMONY:

“…Just as technology marches on, so does the need for technological support for our schools. Today, modern teaching methods utilizing digital tools are poised to revolutionize education around the world. Initially, technology was only in the principal’s office; now it is on the teacher’s desk and is moving into the hands of students. We are increasing our bandwidth users from five million teachers and administrators to 55 million students. Sadly, in spite of E-Rate’s success, today fewer than 25 percent of our nation’s schools have the high-speed bandwidth necessary to support this technology evolution.”

“I am here today to urge you in the strongest terms to support an expanded and strengthened E-Rate program. I believe expanding and strengthening E-Rate is a critical component for providing current and future generations the education and skills they need to compete in today’s global and technologically-enabled economy.”

“America is known world-wide as the home of information technology and the birthplace of tomorrow’s innovations. However, our connectivity limitations and our lack of national coordination on this issue will have a direct impact on learning outcomes, the education ecosystem and our nation’s ability to prepare current and future generations for a highly competitive global workforce. If we don’t act now, we risk losing our position as the global leader.”

“This country has a long and successful history of federal action to aid infrastructure development and ensure universal access to communication technologies. Just as America needed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 to widen our roads, we need federal action today to widen broadband in our schools. If America can invest tens of billions of dollars a year to reduce traffic jams on our roads, shouldn’t we invest a fraction of that to reduce traffic jams in our schools? E-Rate is the key. It worked to solve the problem of access. We can call on it again to solve the educational broadband needs of our country.”

“While technology is not a panacea, it transforms almost every industry it touches. In my day job as an investor I realize that it would be long-term economic suicide not to provide our companies with the technological infrastructure and tools to compete in an increasingly global and competitive marketplace. Likewise, it would create substantial long-term risks to our national competitiveness if we fail to make a national investment in educational technology infrastructure. Fortunately, E-Rate gives us an affordable and effective path to make sure we give schools and teachers the digital learning tools they need to prepare our children and our country for the future.”

“We Americans pride ourselves on always being solution seekers, no matter how difficult the problem. Yes, our US education system faces significant tests and tough international competition, but just like after the Sputnik launch, we as a nation can rise to the challenge. Today, we are facing a “Sputnik Moment” in education. It is time for our country to collectively say “modernizing our schools is a national priority.”

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