FCC Increases E-Rate Funding Cap to $3.9 Billion
FUNDING TECH IN SCHOOLS: On December 11, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved an increase of E-Rate’s $2.4 billion funding cap by $1.5 billion. The increase makes the program the third largest source of federal funding for schools.
The additional funding will come from telephone service fees, which will increase by $1.90 per year per phone line. The 3-2 FCC vote fell neatly along party lines, as Democrat and Chairman Tom Wheeler saw it as “a moral issue” of “the preparation of the next generation,” while Republican FCC member Michael O’Reilly responded, “It still amazes me how some people find it so easy to give away others’ hard-earned income.”
The E-Rate program funds initiatives in libraries and schools, including access to technology. As Dallas Dance, Superintendent of Baltimore Schools, wrote in a letter urging the FCC to approve the funding increase: “The E-Rate program currently represents the only source of federal funding aimed at educational technology and is critical in providing discounts to assist schools and school districts to obtain affordable telecommunications and Internet access.” Advocates of tech access in schools, including the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) and Funds For Learning, have lauded the FCC’s decision.