New Report Sheds Light on Lack of High-Speed Internet in Rural Schools

Statement from Jim Steyer, Founder and CEO of Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media
Common Sense Kids Action
Thursday, November 19, 2015

Today, James P. Steyer released the following statement in response to the Ed Week report released this morning about the lack of digital infrastructure in many rural American communities and the negative impact that has on students in those communities keeping pace in the ever evolving digital world.

"The Ed Week report shines an important light on the reality that many rural communities lack the digital infrastructure to keep pace in the ever evolving digital world and that students within these communities are paying the price."

"In today’s 24/7 digital economy, access to affordable broadband for every classroom and home in America is a necessity, not an option.  In fact, high-speed Internet at school and at home is one key element in helping to ensure that all kids can thrive, in school and in life. We have an increasing number of tools and resources available to help level the digital playing field, so that kids in rural America and kids in poor urban communities are not being left behind in their education and economic opportunities simply because they didn't have access to broadband that so many of their peers have."

Common Sense has a long history of advocacy for access to broadband to under-served schools and homes, including:

  • Common Sense has worked closely with the bipartisan Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) Commission to create a path toward digital learning in the United States. As a first step, we have supported modernizing the Federal Communication Commission's E-Rate program to bring high-speed broadband into all our schools, especially those serving low-income children and children of color, to reduce the digital divide, and to ensure that students develop the skills necessary to compete in today's tech-savvy global economy.
  • Common Sense will work with district, state network administrators to ensure lawmakers are appropriating the state level funding that is necessary to trigger the federal matching grants under the new E-Rate modernization order. Leveraging a network of millions of parents and teachers to educate and influence lawmakers on benefits of providing high speed broadband access to rural communities throughout the country.
  • Common Sense has been working for years to expand access to broadband in every classroom, working with partners in the E-Rate field to help modernize E-Rate and most recently working with SETDA to produce a toolkit to help states and school districts better understand and more easily apply for funding under the revised E-Rate program. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/kids-action/issues/education-and-technology/e-rate-toolkit. Common Sense is using the toolkit to help key stakeholders in states across the country to finish the job of connecting every classroom.
  • Common Sense is deeply engaged in the coalition effort to reform the Lifeline program to help low-income households with school aged kids get affordable broadband at home.  https://www.commonsensemedia.org/about-us/news/press-releases/common-sense-applauds-fcc-vote-to-begin-steps-to-make-high-speed
  • The organization works with nearly 300,000 educators and 100,000 schools throughout the country to distribute digital citizenship learning tools that empower students to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly in a digital world, which is requried to receive E-Rate discounts. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/erate
  • Common Sense produced a policy brief on why broadband access to not an option but a necessity in today's 24/7 digital age, for better education, jobs, and health care.  https://d2e111jq13me73.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/uploads/kids_action/benefits_of_broadband_expansion_to_americas_economy_education_and_health-cska-2015.pd

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