Education and Technology Advocates Announce the “Leading Education by Advancing Digital” (LEAD) Commission, Organized to Advance the Nation’s Transition to Digital Learning

Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger; Co-Founder of TPG Capital James Coulter; Former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and Common Sense Media Founder and CEO James Steyer Named LEAD Commission Co-Chairs

Common Sense Media
Thursday, March 15, 2012

Washington, D.C. – Today, answering a challenge from the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Education, experts on education and technology announced the Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) Commission. The Commission will develop a blueprint detailing the opportunity for using technology as a catalyst to transform and improve American education. The LEAD Commission will be Co-Chaired by Columbia University President Lee Bollinger; Co-Founder of TPG Capital James Coulter; former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings; and Common Sense Media Founder and CEO James Steyer, with the support of the FCC and the Department of Education. The LEAD Commission will incorporate input from a cross-section of teachers, parents, local government officials, school officials, students and education technology industry leaders and expects to release its findings and a blueprint for action in late 2012.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced their support for the organization and will provide input to the LEAD Commission's efforts.

FCC Chairman Genachowski said, "I'm pleased these leaders are rising to the challenge Secretary Duncan and I set out to harness technology to help our students reach their full potential. I'm confident the LEAD Commission's blueprint will chart a course to ensure that education technology will help prepare students to compete in the 21st century global economy."

Education Secretary Duncan said recently, "It's no exaggeration to say that technology is the new platform for learning. Technology isn't an option that schools may or may not choose for their kids. Technological competency is a requirement for entry into the global economy – and the faster we embrace it – the more we maintain and secure our economic leadership in the 21st century."

Building on the National Education Technology Plan released by the US Department of Education in November 2010 and the National Broadband Plan released by the FCC in March 2010, the Commission has several primary goals. For one, it will develop a fact base of current efforts, key trends, cost implications and obstacles to adoption of existing technologies. It will also examine how technology has been a catalyst for improvement in other sectors and what that implies for how technology and digital content could positively impact teaching and learning over time. Finally, the Commission will recommend the types of policies and funding vehicles that may be needed to ensure that school systems can successfully incorporate technology.

Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger said, "America's colleges and universities have a very significant interest in ensuring that young people graduate from high school with the rigorous skills that prepare them to thrive in higher education and beyond. While the human interaction of student and teacher, critical thinking and classic texts remain essential parts of what we mean by an ‘education,' we also know that new communications technologies can greatly enhance teaching, learning and research. We hope that our growing body of experience in the use of these transformational tools in higher education can provide useful insights for our nation's schools."

James Coulter, Co-Founder of TPG Capital said, "Extraordinary technological innovation in education is already happening at the grass roots level. Just as technology has influenced other knowledge and content industries, technology can affect how well we educate our children. Our goal with this commission is to help policy makers to more swiftly and effectively integrate digital learning into our national curriculum."

Former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said, "Technology has transformed so much of our lives, but our schools are not yet leveraging technology to the fullest extent. In order to truly close the achievement gap and impact teaching and learning, we must better use technology to customize instruction, improve the use of student data and deliver content in new and interesting ways."

James Steyer, Founder and CEO of Common Sense Media said, "It is no secret that our education system desperately needs fundamental reform. The great news is that technology provides us with an opportunity to leapfrog decades of simply maintaining the status quo and to truly revolutionize education in this country quickly, which is exactly what's needed to remain economically competitive in today's global economy. By bringing together stakeholders who want to get this right, we have an enormous opportunity to reshape education for the 21st century in America."

For more information on the LEAD Commission, visit


Alec Gerlach (GPG), 202-292-6975, [email protected]

Israel Hernandez (TPG), 415-691-1664, [email protected]

Alycyn Keeling (Margaret Spellings & Co.), 202-419-3923, [email protected]

David Stone (Columbia University), 212-854-5573, [email protected]

Lisa Cohen (Common Sense Media), 310-395-2544, [email protected]