Washington, D.C. - Governor Pat McCrory met with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officials today to request funding for North Carolina’s initiative to provide Wi-Fi access to every K - 12 classroom in the state. The governor also shared North Carolina’s efforts to close the skills gap, particularly in science and mathematics as well as the traditional trades, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 Small Business Summit.
Governor McCrory told the U.S. Chamber audience that technology is a key to providing a well trained workforce that will attract new business to North Carolina and helping existing businesses excel in today’s global markets. “If we are to produce the workforce in high-demand fields, we must equip our classrooms with high speed internet,” said Governor McCrory. “Broadband is no longer a luxury. It’s part of a school’s infrastructure and is needed just as much as water and electricity.”
Toward that end, Governor McCrory was joined by State Chief Information Officer Chris Estes in asking the FCC to designate E-Rate funding for North Carolina. The FCC’s E-Rate program, which assists states with providing internet access to schools, is being modernized to reflect the changing nature of demand for internet access. Funding from this program would allow North Carolina to provide next-generation wireless broadband connections to every classroom and student, and make North Carolina an E-Learning role model for the rest of the country.
North Carolina is a national leader in extending broadband access to public schools. Every K - 12 school in the state is served by high-speed internet connections and 98% are served by dedicated fiber. In keeping with his commitment to building a 21st century technology infrastructure, Governor McCrory requested the FCC’s support in expanding internet access from the school house door to the inside of each classroom.
“It’s no longer sufficient to run internet access to a few computers. Digital learning requires us to deliver Wi-Fi access to each student’s desk,” said State CIO Chris Estes. “I applaud the Governor’s commitment to providing the necessary infrastructure to enable one-on-one digital learning opportunities for each student in North Carolina.”
Job announcements from companies including Cisco, MetLife, Citrix and Red Hat underscore North Carolina’s need to prepare students for highly skilled, high-paying technology jobs. The first bill Governor McCrory signed bolstered that effort by supporting the transition from textbooks to digital learning by 2017.