How can the federal eRate program be upgraded and modernized?
Last month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) closed its comment period for its most recent Public Notice, soliciting responses for proposed changes to the eRate program. As a former school superintendent, in my current role with the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), and as a member of the USAC board, the entity that administers the eRate program, I have strongly supported the eRate program for the critical role it has played in the rapid and dramatic expansion of school and library connectivity, forever changing the face of students’ classroom experiences.
The current eRate policy environment is an unprecedented confluence of events: an FCC Chairman committed to modernizing the program, an FCC commissioner deeply passionate about eRate, the momentum of President Obama’s ConnectED proposal, the announcement of $2 billion in found funding for the eRate program, and the ever-increasing demand for connectivity in the nation’s schools and libraries. Program policy isn’t made in a silo, though, and there are external pressures that stand to shape the final eRate changes as much as the voice of program beneficiaries.
(Next page: A two-pronged approach to eRate modernization)