Dear Senator Snowe:
Thank you for the E-rate program! We at Funds For Learning were saddened to hear that you announced on February 28 that you will not be seeking re-election to the Senate this November; however, we certainly wish you the best in your next endeavor.
You were an early champion of the E-rate program, and since the time you first entered the Senate in 1994 you have been its tireless supporter. Simply put, the E-rate program would not have been included as part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act without your commitment and courage. Thank you for your willingness to work in a bipartisan manner and co-sponsor the E-rate Amendment along with Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Bob Kerrey (D-NE) and James Exon (D-NE).
In the original debate about expanding Universal Service support to include schools and libraries you said:
- “‚Ä¶This principle of affordable access is not a new concept. The universal service concept has been embodied in our national telecommunications policy since 1934, to ensure that all parts of America had access to the telephone. It was important to ensure that all Americans had access to the essential service at the time, telephone service‚Ä¶.But universal service needs to be updated, and in fact, the bill recognizes that universal service is an evolving concept. The bill presently ensures universal service for telemedicine, and educational services, which I believe will make a difference, not only for America and its ability to compete with other countries, but also for individuals in preparing themselves for the work force of tomorrow, which we know will be constantly changing. And ensuring that our Nation’s children gain access to the important technologies of the future will make a significant difference in the standard of living they and their families will enjoy for years to come. That is what this amendment is all about‚Ä¶.” [June 8, 1995; Congressional Record; page S7972]
Your efforts back in 1995 and 1996 have positively impacted millions of students who were able to gain access to what you called the “important technologies of the future.” Schools and libraries have seen the benefit of $22.7 billion in E-rate support since 1998, none of which would be possible without your foresight over 15 years ago.
Thank you that nearly 26,000 schools and library systems currently benefit from the program that you helped bring about. Thank you that a generation of students has already moved though our K-12 system with Internet access and telecommunications in place. Thank you that the E-rate program is making a “…difference in the standard of living they and their families will enjoy for years to come‚Ä¶”
Thank you for the E-rate program.