FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 14, 2015
Dave Parker, Communications Director, Governor’s Office, 406.444.9844
Emilie Ritter Saunders, Communications Director, Office of Public Instruction, 406.444.3160
BOZEMAN, MT – September 14, 2015 – Montana Governor Steve Bullock announced today his commitment to connect every K-12 classroom in the state to high-speed Internet in order to support digital learning and equal opportunities for all Montana students. The Office of the Governor and the Montana Office of Public Instruction have partnered with EducationSuperHighway, the national non-profit dedicated to bringing the opportunity of digital learning to every student in America through broadband connectivity.
The news comes from a press conference hosted by the Montana Association of School Superintendents in Bozeman, MT, at which Governor Bullock, Evan Marwell, Founder and CEO of EducationSuperHighway, Russ Hendrickson, President of Montana Educational Technologists Association, and Dennis Parman, Deputy Superintendent at the Montana Office of Public Instruction, discussed the importance of providing equal access to high-speed Internet to each school across Montana, especially in rural areas.
“In order to reach their full potential and enjoy equal opportunity in today’s digital age, all K-12 students in Montana need access to high-speed Internet,” said Governor Bullock. “We are committed to making sure each school - rural or urban, big or small - has equal access to the promise of digital learning.”
In the coming weeks, ESH will work directly with school districts and other stakeholders to assess current broadband status across Montana. The resulting data and insights will be compiled into a report on connectivity that will provide a comprehensive review of broadband challenges and opportunities for K-12 schools. Working closely with Governor’s Office, the Office of Public Instruction, the service provider community, and schools across the state, EducationSuperHighway will use the report’s results to create an action plan that ensures scalable, robust and affordable access to high-speed broadband for all school districts. At the same time, ESH network experts will begin working with school districts across the state that lack access to high-speed fiber to help them attain fiber connections that are scalable and affordable.
“We’re thrilled to be working with Governor Bullock, his team, and the Department of Public Instruction to make their connectivity goals a reality,” said Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway. “Digital learning has the power to transform education and every student deserves equal access to these tools. Governor Bullock’s commitment to upgrading every school with fiber connectivity is a leading example of the first essential step to ensuring equal access to educational opportunity for all K-12 students.”
According to preliminary analysis of FCC E-rate data by EducationSuperHighway, up to 160 Montana schools could benefit by upgrading to fiber optic Internet connections, opening up the opportunity to implement digital learning tools in classrooms across the state. EducationSuperHighway has already begun working with Missoula County Public School District to help schools upgrade their broadband access to affordable, scalable connectivity that can meet their digital learning needs into the future.\
“Missoula County Public Schools is a forward-thinking, high-achieving school district,” said Hatton Littman, Director of Technology and Communications for Missoula County Public Schools. “We have been surpassing state goals and benchmarks for years with our teaching and learning. Amazingly, we have been doing it with shockingly low bandwidth. We simply cannot continue operating with 500 elementary students sharing 100 Mbps of bandwidth. We are excited to receive the support of ESH to help us meet new bandwidth targets.”
EducationSuperHighway is the leading non-profit focused on upgrading the Internet access in every public school classroom in America. We believe that digital learning has the potential to provide all students with equal access to educational opportunity and that every school requires high-speed broadband to make that opportunity a reality.
EducationSuperHighway’s data-driven programs accelerate upgrades in America’s schools. We catalyze federal and state action on K-12 broadband initiatives, we get fiber to schools that need it, and we make broadband more affordable for school districts. Our work helped shape President Obama’s ConnectED initiative and served as a catalyst for modernization of the Federal Communications Commission’s $3.9 billion E-rate program, earning our CEO the 2015 Visionary of the Year award from the San Francisco Chronicle. For additional information, please visit http://www.educationsuperhighway.org/.