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NEA President: FCC E-Rate proposal is bad public policy

Federal Communications Commission undermines the needs of students and educators

WASHINGTON - June 20, 2014 -

An announcement made Friday by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding actions to “modernize” the E-Rate Program falls drastically short of providing for the needs of students, educators and school districts. The program aims to provide discounts to assist schools and libraries in the United States to obtain affordable telecommunications and Internet access, in order to meet President Obama’s call for 99 percent of all classrooms to be connected to broadband. The National Education Association and a dozen national advocacy organizations that represent the intended beneficiaries of the E-rate Program have expressed strong and unequivocal concerns with the FCC’s proposed changes. Unfortunately, after nearly a decade of submitting concrete and actionable recommendations to improve the program, the FCC has failed to heed the calls of these organizations which represent tens of thousands of school districts, and educators.

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel today issued the following statement:

“Educators are deeply disappointed that Chairman Wheeler has ignored the serious concerns we have raised for more than a decade with the proposed changes to the E-Rate Program. We feel the chairman is missing the opportunity to seize the moment and truly address the items that will bring broadband to the communities who need it the most. This failure will have a negative impact on students and educators, especially in urban, rural and low-density populated areas.

“Educators know first-hand the tremendous, positive impact the E-Rate Program has had in our classrooms, schools and communities. Without the E-Rate Program, many of our schools—especially in rural areas—would not be able to sustain on-going access to the Internet. At a time when our country’s ability to prepare our students to compete in the 21st century global economy is at stake, we can’t afford to go in the wrong direction with the proposed changes to the E-Rate Program. 

“After years of trying, we are beyond frustrated that the Commission is moving full speed ahead without addressing our concerns and without taking action on the many red flags that we have raised. The E-Rate Program has 18 years of success and it does not need to be completely rewritten.

“Every year since its inception, demand in the E-Rate Program has been twice the available funding. We are skeptical of the success of any major programmatic changes that do not provide sustainable additional funding.”

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The National Education Association ( is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez, (202) 822-7823,