E-Rate Modernization: 2013
In July 2013, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched a public rule making to solicit ideas on how best to modernize the E-rate program. E-rate currently provides approximately $2.3 billion a year for educational technology infrastructure nationwide, has been instrumental to enabling the adoption and implementation of state policies that support the transition to high-quality digital textbooks and instructional materials, online assessment, data-driven decision making, online and blended learning, and competency-based education.
The current FCC rule making process is expected to result in a comprehensive reform, re-alignment, and expansion of the E-rate to better support K-12 education’s increasing reliance on access to broadband-enabled tools and services.
Action Steps for States, Districts and Schools
While SETDA called for a modernization of E-rate in our May 2012 report, The Broadband Imperative: Recommendations to Address K-12 Education Infrastructure Needs, in order to ensure that the E-rate rule making results in program changes in support of state and local education priorities, it is vital that state education agencies, school districts, educational technology companies, and other state and local organizations with a stake in the future of school reform and improvement also all file comments with the FCC. The initial comment period closed September 16, but the 'reply' comment period remains open until November 8, 2013. During this time, states and districts have the opportunity to submit new comments or comment on the positions of others who have previously commented.
Please review SETDA's initial comments and consider endorsing our seven high-level principles for E-rate modernization:
- Principle 1: A modernized E-rate should be guided by few, clear performance goals and metrics - including the SETDA recommendations for broadband capacity;
- Principle 2: A modernized E-rate must better align to education needs and governance responsibilities;
- Principle 3: A modernized E-rate must prioritize equity of access to robust broadband by 100% of schools;
- Principle 4: A modernized E-rate must be fiscally responsible;
- Principle 5: A modernized E-rate should incent participant innovation;
- Principle 6: A modernized E-rate should reduce participant burden; and
- Principle 7: A modernized E-rate must provide specific, predictable and sufficient funding to address K-12 broadband infrastructure needs.
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