WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, the Alliance for Excellent Education called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to increase the funding cap for the E-rate program—the federal government’s largest educational technology program—to ensure that all students, especially those most disadvantaged, have access to high-speed internet connections and anytime, anywhere learning.
“Reliable access to high-speed broadband is as important to learning today as traditional textbooks were fifty years ago,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “The FCC’s vote in July to modernize E-rate was a critical first step, but now it must permanently increase funding for E-rate so that at least 99 percent of the nation’s students have access to high-speed broadband in their schools and libraries within the next five years.”
Between fiscal years 2008 and 2012, funding provided by the FCC for internal connections supported only 4 to 11 percent of the schools participating in E-rate each year and no more than 3 percent of the public library locations participating in the program.
The Alliance’s recommendations were submitted in response to the FCC’s Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) regarding meeting the future funding needs of the E-rate program and are as follows:
- Increase the E-rate funding cap and regularly review and adjust the cap in order to meet the changing demands of technology.
- Monitor implementation of the new, reduced discount rate provided to low-income schools to ensure that students in the nation’s poorest schools and communities have access to the E-rate services they need.
- Expand the reach of E-rate to facilitate anytime, anywhere learning through wireless community hotspots or other means to ensure that students have access to high-speed broadband when schools and libraries are closed.
- Use square footage to determine E-rate allocations to libraries but adopt a minimum funding level to guarantee that budgets can meet the minimum demand that libraries have, regardless of size.
- Provide special consideration for tribal communities to make it easier for them to access valuable E-rate funds.
- Ensure accurate use of National School Lunch Program data to ensure high schools are appropriately funded through E-rate.
Additional details on each of the Alliance’s recommendations are available at https://all4ed.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/All4edE-RateComments091514.pdf.
More information on the need to expand E-rate is available at http://99in5.org.
The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC–based national policy and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring all students, particularly those traditionally underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship