State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced his support Saturday for a ruling by the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, to expand internet access for California’s schools and libraries.
The goal of the expansion is to help prepare students for the global economy by modernizing the E-rate program and boosting support for wireless connectivity for schools and libraries, according to a California Department of Education news release.
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“Our schools, society and economy thrive on interconnectivity,” Torlakson said. “Today’s action will not only help narrow the digital divide among students, but also help us reach and teach every child so they will be prepared for the world that awaits them.”
The ruling is designed to expand wireless access, make money put toward the federal Schools and Libraries Program, also known as E-rate, go further and deliver faster, simpler and more efficient applications and processes, officials said.
State officials have prioritized the expansion of the E-rate program, and other priorities include ensuring the flexibility to take advantage of future technologies, making it easier to apply for and receive funding, distributing funding according to highest-priority needs and allowing for adequate bandwidth to support wireless access, according to the news release.
Torlakson has lead efforts to update the program since March 2012 when he brought the Education Technology Task Force together to provide 21st century tools to California’s classrooms.
In June 2013, President Barack Obama proposed modernizing E-rate as part of the ConnectED initiative, which Torlakson referred to as “a huge step in the right direction,” according to the news release.
Shortly after, the FCC opened a public comment period on the issue, allowing Torlakson, local superintendents and other education stakeholders across California to weigh in along with California Department of Education officials.
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