Schools and libraries with Wi-Fi in EDMONDS WASHINGTON ?
In June 2013, I joined the President in Mooresville, NC, to launch ConnectED an initiative to close the technology gap in our schools and bring high-speed Internet to 99 percent of Americas students within five years. This vision that all students should have access to world-class digital learning is well on its way to becoming a reality.
Thanks to the leadership of the President and the FCC, the resources are in place to meet the Presidents connectivity goal. In addition, various private-sector partners are making over $2 billion worth of resources available to students, teachers, and schools. These include tablets, mobile broadband, software, and online teacher professional development courses from top universities. Fewer than 40 percent of public schools currently have the high-speed Internet needed to support modern digital learning.
But now we have the resources to solve this problem. We just need help from our nations superintendents and school technology chiefs.
Last year, the FCC approved the first major update to the E-Rate program since it was created in 1997. E-Rate (also known as the Universal Service Program for Schools and Libraries) makes it more affordable for schools and libraries to connect to high-speed Internet with the goal of making the gigabit speeds we see in cities like Cedar Falls, Iowa, and Chattanooga, Tennessee the norm in schools across the country.
These updates have unlocked funding to support internal Wi-Fi network upgrades in schools and libraries this year for the first time since 2012. Wi-Fi is important because no matter how fast the Internet connection is to a school, students cant take full advantage of it without a robust wireless network within the school.
To secure E-rate support for Wi-Fi, schools and libraries must submit a form describing their project needs to the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). USAC then posts the request for competitive bidding. The Department of Education has prepared an Infrastructure Guide to help district leaders navigate the many decisions required to deliver cutting-edge connectivity to students. That said, schools and libraries have the final say when they submit an application to USAC for approval.
Bringing our schools up to speed is a major priority, and E-rate provides an opportunity to make doing so much more affordable. For all of the superintendents and technology officers: If you havent yet done so, get your requests submitted by February 26, 2015, and your applications in before March 26, 2015 (requests must be up for 28 days before a school can choose a vendor). Your students, your community, and your country will thank you for bringing our classrooms into the 21st century.
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In EDMONDS WASHINGTON: Why Good Trade Deals Matter to a Business
Nick Martin is the co-founder of The Pro´s Closet, an online used-cycling business. He sent the following email to the White House list to highlight why a better trade deal means a brighter future for online businesses like his.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership isn´t just President Obama´s proposed trade deal -- it´s mine, too. It´s a trade deal that millions of other online small business owners in this country would be proud to add their name to. I want to tell you why:
Every time I step through the doors of one of our 4,000-square-foot warehouses in Boulder and Denver, Colorado -- every time I see the bikes and cycling parts that line those walls and take in the energetic buzz of our 30-member team -- I take a step back and reflect on a simple fact: I own a business. Its a "pinch-me" moment -- every time.
I am a cyclist and the proud co-owner of The Pro´s Closet, an online used-cycling store. And thanks to the Internet and the availability of e-commerce platforms like eBay, we´ve gone global. After all, when its not cycling season in the U.S., its peak season somewhere else in the world.
International customers aren´t just good for business abroad; theyre great for my Colorado communities. Why? Because selling in more markets means I can hire more people here at home. In fact, more small businesses are using the Internet to grow their business by reaching new customers they couldn´t reach before.
This is why trade is so important to me. If the success of American businesses in the global economy is important to you, say youre an ambassador for a better trade deal that delivers a brighter future for all of us.
It may seem like a really remote and technical issue, but it actually has a real impact on how small businesses like mine do business. Currently more than 40% of our transactions cross U.S. borders. Unfortunately, most of our trade rules were written in a "pre-Internet" era, which means they are a nightmare to navigate for small online businesses.
Heres an example: Right now, customs rules are so inconsistent and hard to follow that if we put a cycling part in the wrong packaging or mail it with the wrong label, it wont make it to our customer in one country. The rules are different for each country, and are sometimes set up in a way that completely blocks out American business.
That is why it is so important that we secure the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a new kind of trade agreement that will ensure America writes the rules and levels the playing field for online businesses and American workers by:
Reducing and eliminating tariffs across the Asia-Pacific region
Streamlining customs procedures
Making the rules more transparent, consistent, and less costly
Helping keep the Internet open and free, enabling online businesses to operate without unnecessary infrastructure costs
Of course, as the President has said, not all of our past trade deals have lived up to their promise. Thankfully, this trade deal is on track to be different. In fact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is shaping up to be the most progressive trade deal the world has ever seen.
That's more people than the populations of New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago combined. This number includes parents who can finally afford to take their kids to the doctor, families who no longer risk losing their homes or savings because someone becomes ill, and young people who are now free to pursue their dreams without worrying about losing access to health care.
2. Medicaid is helping millions.
The Affordable Care Act allows states to expand eligibility for Medicaid, and 28 states and the District of Columbia have done so. Across all 50 states, there are 11.2 million additional Americans enrolled in Medicaid compared to a baseline period in the fall of 2013.
While not every state expanded Medicaid, those that did are seeing especially strong coverage gains. In Medicaid expansion states, the uninsured rate among families with incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty line declined by 13 percentage points, nearly double the decline in non-expansion states.
3. Those with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied health insurance.
Prior to the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies could deny you coverage or charge you more because of a health problem that you had prior to applying for insurance. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies can’t refuse to cover you just because you have a pre-existing condition and they can’t close you out of coverage by charging you more than someone who doesn’t have a pre-existing condition.
This key provision means that up to 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions are no longer at risk of being denied coverage. This includes the parents of over 17.6 million children with pre-existing conditions who no longer have to live with that worry.
4. The uninsured rate for young Americans is at its lowest point since at least 1997.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate for young Americans has declined by more than 40 percent over the past five years. Since 2010, more than 5 million young adults have gained coverage. This includes 2.3 million young adults who have gained coverage by being able to stay on their parent's health plan. Under the Affordable Care Act, young adults can stay on their parent’s coverage until age 26. With all that can happens in a young person's life, this provision helps ensure that those who are just starting out in college and work careers can plan with the assurance that they have access to quality and affordable coverage.
5. Americans no longer have lifetime and annual limits on their coverage.
The Affordable Care Act has lifted the lifetime health benefit caps for 105 million Americans. Previously, many plans set a lifetime limit on how much they would spend for your covered benefits during the entire time you were enrolled in their plan. If you went over, you’d be paying out of pocket. Annual limits also constrained families and inpiduals by restricting how much they could receive per year. That's not how it should be. That’s why the Affordable Care Act prohibits health plans from putting annual or lifetime dollar limits on most benefits.