Hello, friends. I'm AETN Executive Director Allen Weatherly, and I'm glad to share a bit with you about my recent appearance before a United State Senate Commerce Committee field hearing in Little Rock, “Connecting Urban and Rural America: The State of Communications on the Ground.” The hearing – which focused on issues facing telecommunication and media companies in Arkansas and how statewide broadband availability can improve Arkansans' welfare by expanding access to education, telemedicine, education and business development services – was chaired by committee member Senator Mark Pryor. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel was also in attendance.
I was invited to attend the Aug. 19 hearing and was then asked to discuss AETN's service to the state, especially rural connectivity and education. My oral testimony summarized a longer testimony filed with the Commerce Committee. Senator Pryor also spent considerable time questioning me about public media and our services. I was honored to represent AETN - it was a very rewarding experience.
Some of my oral comments included:
…From the point of view of one broadcaster and media content provider - in our state, AETN provides free educational services and programming from PBS programs like "Sesame Street" to "NOVA" and Ken Burns to "Downton Abbey"… and AETN favorites like "Exploring Arkansas With Chuck Dovish," "Arkansas Week" and documentaries like our recent "Bayou Batholomew." PBS ratings are up - unusual in today's broadcast environment - so people do respond to mission-based programming.
AETN's mission is to serve everyone, everywhere, every day, free to all Arkansans no matter their station in life or location.
All distribution options are important: broadcast, cable, satellite and online services that serve as an educational avenue for AETN to reach schools with teacher training and resources, online professional development for educators, and PBS and AETN online early education resources for parents and kids.
AETN works side by side with the Arkansas Department of Education to provide all educators with quality, online, ADE-approved professional development and educational resources for K-12 educators through ArkansasIDEAS. ArkansasIDEAS is an indispensable tool for Arkansas educators, especially those in rural areas, as it allows 24-hour access online to meet their 60-hour requirement each year. So far, more than half a million credit hours have been earned.
Education has been the heart of AETN for five decades, using connectivity to provide targeted educational services to educators, parents and kids - public, private, home-schooled and Pre-K.
Adequate broadband is vital for continuing and expanding the high-quality educational programs and services through ArkansasIDEAS that also include STEM, TESS and Common Core resources, AETN early education services and PBS resources such as AETN/PBS LearningMedia that deliver more than 30,000 video learning assets and tools for teachers to use in their classrooms.
With limited resources but using every media platform, AETN works to provide resources for children to learn, for parents to be their child's first best teacher, for educators to have free access to training and classroom resources, and give Arkansans access to unique dramas, documentaries, history, public affairs, and arts programming… accessible to all - rural and urban.
I was proud to be invited to testify about the services AETN makes available across the state. We, as always, wish to be of the greatest help to all Arkansans across the state and will make every effort to help residents of every age continue their lifelong learning process. You can learn more about the hearing and the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation on their website and watch the hearing in the video segments above. For further information about the many services AETN provides, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-623-2386.