LEAD Co-Chairs Present at FCC Open Meeting on E-Rate


July 19, 2013


LEAD Commission Commends FCC for Rulemaking to Update School Internet Connections

Co-Chairs Spellings, Steyer Make Presentation at FCC Open Commission Meeting on the Importance of New Rules Bolstering Access

The Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) Commission today applauds the Federal Communications Commission for adopting a notice of proposed rulemaking on modernizing the E-Rate program, which provides funding to connect our nation's schools to the Internet. LEAD issued the following statement regarding the rulemaking:

"We commend the FCC for initiating this rulemaking. This is the first in many steps to bring faster Internet connections to our nation's schools and unleashing the power of digital learning in our classrooms. We stand ready to assist the Commission in updating E-Rate so our nation can reach these important goals." 

Today, LEAD Commission co-chairs Margaret Spellings (Former Secretary of Education) and James Steyer (Founder and CEO of Common Sense Media) addressed the FCC’s Open Commission Meeting. Spellings and Steyer stressed the importance of modernizing the E-Rate program to pave the way for expanding digital learning access in K-12 schools nationwide. Their remarks also reflected the LEAD Commission’s work in studying the current state of technology in schools and its recommendations moving forward.

Below are some key excerpts from Spellings and Steyer’s statement. The full submitted remarks can be found here, and the presentation can be viewed here.

Their remarks followed upon the appearance of fellow LEAD co-chair Jim Coulter (Co-Founder of TPG) at a Senate Commerce Committee Hearing on “E-Rate 2.0: Connecting Every Child to the Transformative Power of Technology” on July 17.


“Put simply, asking educators to improve student achievement in classrooms with 20th century internet access is like asking firefighters to put out a massive wild fire with a garden hose. This is all about American kids, and what we must do to provide them with the 21st century education and skills they need to join a tech-savvy workforce.  And this is all about what our nation needs to maintain its competitive edge in today’s global economy.”

“With digital textbooks, online lessons, learning games and peer networks, we can help students enjoy better lessons in school – and at home, too.  Real-time assessments can help teachers identify how each child learns, where he needs improvement, and which learning strategies suit him best.  New online tools can also help teachers aggregate and display this data for the student and his parents, so that they can be more engaged in personalizing that student’s lesson plans and monitoring his progress.”

“…There is a substantial international movement to implement technology in the classroom.  International leaders in digital learning, such as Singapore and South Korea, have nationally funded pools of technology-enabled model schools as a means to demonstrating the future of education.  Even countries like Turkey and Thailand are working to put tablets into the hands of millions of students in urban and rural schools.  As these and other countries are forging ahead, we are falling behind.”


“The E-Rate program has provided tremendous benefits for rural and urban schools, public and private, and has helped bridge the digital divide across America… By updating the program, E-Rate can provide the funding necessary to migrate our schools from the current inadequate bandwidth to high-speed broadband in a timely, efficient manner. The effort to modernize E-Rate and build the necessary infrastructure will take many years, and must begin immediately.”

“It’s high time to balance the equation by using technology to amplify educational opportunity.  New technologies can help students access customized interactive instruction anytime, anywhere, at any pace – and can level the playing field for students regardless of geographic location or socioeconomic status.”

“This is a historic opportunity for the Commission to craft a modernized and strengthened E-Rate program, so current and future generations of American students can obtain the education and skills they need. Enhancing technology in our schools is affordable, it is achievable, and it is imperative if we, as a nation, are to compete and win in today’s global economy.”