The American Library Association says the cap on the federal E-rate program, which provides up to $2.25 billion each year to improve Web access for schools and libraries, should be raised to meet the demand for universal high-speed connectivity to the Internet. Potential rule changes to expand the program to allow other services, such as teacher training, or to expand eligibility beyond K-12 education, however, would detract from the E-rate’s original goal, the Chicago-based ALA letter states.
“Until the E-rate cap is increased to meet existing needs, the FCC should not consider expanding the type of entities or services eligible for support,” Alan Inouye, the ALA’s director of information technology policy, said in a statement.
The comments were in response to a public notice issued by the Federal Communications Commission last month seeking input on broadband needs in education, and include proposed changes to the E-rate program. The FCC is seeking comments on a range of issues related to the availability of broadband technology, including how schools are accessing and using digital content, what they are teaching about media literacy, the use of online-learning programs, and the effectiveness of the E-rate program. The FCC is preparing the National Broadband Plan, which is due to Congress in February.
Comments are due by Dec. 11.
A version of this article appeared in the December 02, 2009 edition of Education Week as Library Group Balks at E-Rate Changes