Schools have already been working towards that goal. In fact, broadband networks currently are being used in schools like never before. The education community is integrating new technologies into curriculum, deploying 1:1 laptop initiatives, and – check this out – using e-textbooks. Computer networks support high stakes online testing, critical security services, and important administrative functions.
All of these activities require broadband connectivity. School administrators and I.T. staff are working hard to give their schools what they need. For example, Funds For Learning analysis shows requests for ultrahigh speed telecommunications services (200 Mbps or higher) have increased an amazing 416% since 2009. And the growth in demand shows no sign of abating.
Support Focused on Local Needs
Because schools rely on E-rate discounts to support these connections, it is absolutely essential that the FCC properly reform the program. I hope the FCC provides school districts with greater flexibility to select the technologies that best fit their needs. Schools should be trusted to evaluate their local technology requirements and make the best choice for their specific situation. There is no one size fits all technology solution for schools and the E-rate program should not be structured as if there were.
Equitable Funding Opportunities
The E-rate program should be counted on to provide all schools and libraries with equitable funding opportunities. Every school should have access to some level of support, and the neediest schools should receive the most of it. E-rate dollars should not flow to a hand full of urban schools with disproportionate funding requests. Nor should discount rates be lowered and services removed from the eligible services list. The FCC will not help disadvantaged schools enhance their broadband connections by reducing or removing financial support.
Funds For Learning has provided the FCC with a detailed proposal that will schools and libraries to meet the goals of the ConnectED Initiative – and to do so without lowering discount rates, removing services, or creating more complex funding algorithms.
To learn more about our proposal, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.