Berkeley, CA & Washington, D.C., June 26, 2015 — Today the White House convened partners in the Future Ready initiative, supported by the U.S. Department of Education and the Alliance for Excellent Education, to celebrate successes and plan for the future. NWP Executive Director Elyse Eidman-Aadahl represented the National Writing Project at the convening along with a diverse set of organizations that included Educator Innovator partners, EdCamp and Edutopia.
According to Eidman-Aadahl, "Future Ready aims to support district leaders, especially superintendents, in working through a strategy to help their districts move ahead with the whole map of issues central to teaching and learning in a digital age. For Writing Project teachers who seek supports for their district leaders to expand equity and access to digital tools for their students, Future Ready is the place to turn."
The effort to engage district leaders is gaining momentum. During the first nine months of Future Ready, more than 1,900 district superintendents, representing more than 14 million students across all 50 states, took the "Future Ready Pledge" and committed to moving their districts forward in teaching and learning approaches for the digital age.
As part of that effort, more than 1,800 educational leaders, including many NWP local leaders, have convened to develop implementation plans at 11 Future Ready Summits held across the country since February. These two-day summits bring together superintendents with district-wide teams of educators to look carefully at their districts, share best practices, and make plans. Thirteen more summits are planned for next year to support additional districts.
Future Ready was launched in tandem with President Obama's ConnectED Initiative, an initiative that set an ambitious goal to provide 99 percent of American students with access to next-generation broadband in their classrooms and libraries by 2018. Since that time, public and private sectors have committed more than $10 billion of total funding and in-kind commitments to support schools' efforts to move into the digital age.
Integral to this effort is the FCC's E-rate program that recently awarded $161 million to bring Wi-Fi and high-speed connectivity to classrooms in over 10,000 schools and over 500 libraries across America. This will bring the total to $470 million that the E-rate program has committed in just the last six weeks to advance and improve access to broadband connectivity and Wi-Fi access this year.
In addition, libraries are partnering with publishers to provide more than $250 million in eBook reading materials to low-income students. Publishers have committed over $250 million in free eBooks to support this initiative, including publishers such as HarperCollins, Lee & Low, and MacMillan. Simon & Schuster will provide access to their entire e-catalog of books for children ages 4-14, comprised of 3,000 titles.
"For young writers, having access to internet connectivity, digital tools for composing and connecting with others, and rich reading material can make a huge difference in the environment for literacy learning," stated Eidman-Aadahl. "Getting those resources out to the broadest range of schools for use in teaching and learning is a significant equity goal, and one NWP is proud to support."