Why E-rate expansion is a must for our schools

The funding cap increase is a critical complement to a series of programmatic changes the FCC adopted last July. Together, the funding cap increase and programmatic changes modernize E-rate in a way that makes it flexible and sustainable—a program that can continue to meet the ever-growing connectivity need of our nation’s schools and the students they serve.

AASA members have been holding meetings with the FCC as well as members of Congress for years. As the individuals who are at the helm of our nation’s school districts, superintendents have a vested interest in this modernization movement. Last summer, a vote on E-rate modernization fell during our Legislative Advocacy Conference. School system leaders met on Capitol Hill with their respective legislators, communicating our deep concerns with the proposed plans. Member-driven advocacy, echoing AASA sentiment, covered both chambers and both sides of the aisle. Our advocacy proved critical to pushing the FCC to adopt significant changes that made the proposal one we could support.

In order for students to achieve academic success and compete in our global economy, high-speed connectivity is a must. E-rate represents the single largest source of education technology funding for our schools and libraries, and the fourth largest federal education program. Though most schools and libraries are now connected to the internet, the quality and speed of that connection does not always meet demands. We still have school districts that do not have the technological capacity to keep up with the mandated online formative assessments and the tracking of massive amounts of data through state longitudinal data systems.

Opportunities to improve connectivity are not going away. We’ve been involved in the E-Rate conversation since the program began in 1996 and we will continue to advocate for this important program. This is all part of our effort to push forward our nation’s digital leap—an endeavor we’re all working toward.

Dan Domenech is the executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association.

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