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Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
Internet: http://www.fcc.gov
TTY: 202/418-2555

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

September 11, 2000

News Media Contact:
Jordan Goldstein, 202-418-2100


Commissioner Susan Ness issued the following press statement on September 11, 2000, commenting on the release of the U.S. Department of Education's Report prepared by The Urban Institute, E-Rate and the Digital Divide: A Preliminary Analysis from the Integrated Studies of Educational Technology:
As our children head back to school, it is appropriate to assess the critical role that the E-Rate plays in delivering access to the Information Age to all of our nation's classrooms and libraries. I commend the Department of Education for its diligence in securing this study to determine whether the E-Rate program is achieving its stated goals.

By analyzing data from the first two years of the program, this Report documents the remarkable progress we have made towards realizing the bold vision of Congress and the Clinton/Gore administration in the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

To date, tens of thousands of schools and libraries across the country have received discounts to help connect them to the Internet. Almost two-thirds of our public school classrooms and almost all of our community libraries now offer direct access to the Internet.

This study also affirms the E-Rate's role in closing the digital divide. I am pleased that we have seen higher application rates from poorer communities and succeeded in targeting greater discounts to those who need them the most - those living in economically disadvantaged and rural areas.

While this Report verifies that we are well on the way toward achieving our goal of connecting every instructional classroom to the Internet, it also notes that much work remains. We must determine why some communities, including ones in rural and high- poverty areas, are not taking advantage of these discounts to hook up their schools and libraries. We also should find ways to leverage for the entire community the technological resources made available by the E-Rate to schools and libraries.

Of course, delivery of technology is not enough. Schools and libraries must be prepared to use these new resources. We have given educators the flexibility to select the services that can best meet the needs of their communities. I applaud the Department of Education, states, and communities for their efforts to equip teachers and librarians with the training and support to make best use of these new tools.

Working together, we can provide all of our children and communities with the tools to advance in the global information economy. We owe it to our children.

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