Editor’s Note: E-Rate the Right Way
3/27/2014 8:00:00 PM
I think we can all agree with FCC Commissioner Jessica
Rosenworcel when she spoke last month at SXSWedu: “With
a reformed E-Rate—or E-Rate 2.0—we can extend the reach
of broadband in our schools. We can expand the range of
educational content. We can harness digital and mobile
platforms and teach in new and exciting ways. In short, we can
seize the good in new technology and prepare all of our children for
success in the 21st century.”
Now for the tricky part—how do we do it the right way?
Navigating the bureaucracy, politics, and industry logistics will
be daunting. According to a recent survey by the Consortium for
School Networking (CoSN), 43 percent of districts said none of their schools meet the broadband
goal of 100Mbps of Internet access per 1,000 students today.
Our special E-Rate supplement starts to lay the groundwork. Read
a succinct summary of the government’s plan
via Rosenworcel. Then consider the remarks of
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), member of the
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation
Committee, which includes this nugget: “Real
reform also means empowering parents to
check up on what schools are doing with E-Rate
funding. Schools and service providers should
disclose more clearly and in detail exactly what
students are getting with federal funds. All of
this information should be collected and made
available on a single website that would allow any
American to see with specificity how any school
in the nation has spent its E-Rate money.”
E-Rate will be funding the largest public
infrastructure project of the century. Here’s to
hoping it will be managed that way.
— Kevin Hogan
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