Ed-Tech Policy

Historic E-rate Vote Reaction: Applause, Relief, Excitement

By Benjamin Herold — December 11, 2014 4 min read
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Reaction from educator, technology, and library groups—almost all of it positive—has been pouring in following Thursday’s big, contentious, party-line vote by the Federal Communications Commission to raise the overall spending cap on the federal E-rate program.

The program provides technology funds for schools and libraries. The annual cap on those funds, long set at around $2.4 billion, has now been raised to $3.9 billion. For details and analysis on the vote and its implications, see this piece from earlier today by my colleague Sean Cavanagh.

Snippets from the responses of some key players, selected unscientifically, mostly from what made it into my inbox, are below. Organizations are listed alphabetically. All quotes are pulled from official statements. We’ll update with further reaction as it comes in—send your statements to bherold@epe.org.

AASA, The School Superintendents’ Association Kudos (for FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel—all Democrats who voted in favor of the cap increase.)

“In the same week that Congress is advancing their federal funding bill, the FCC emerges as the education champion, ensuring that all schools and libraries benefit from robust wireless broadband connectivity.”

Alliance for Excellent Education/Former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise Hyperbolic support.

“The FCC’s decision today is the best holiday gift possible for the nation’s students and teachers.”

American Library Association Relief.

“There are countless examples of the transformative impact of investing in library broadband. These include everything from a Maine library’s virtual field trips with the Smithsonian Museums to a patron Skyping for a job interview at the Omaha Public Library (NE).”

The Consortium for School Networking Not surprisingly, elation.

“Raising the cap also ensures that more schools can achieve the broadband goals established by the Commission last July, including expanding Wi-Fi connections, robust networks and broadband speeds.”

EducationSuperHighway Vindication.

“Since 2012, EducationSuperHighway worked closely with the White House, the Department of Education, the FCC, and numerous other partners to bring high-speed broadband to every classroom in America. It led the way in contributing extensive school and broadband data analyses that played a pivotal role in igniting action for modernization and shaping a smarter E-rate.”

Funds For Learning About damn time.

“For 17 years we have watched a steady increase in the need for Internet capacity in schools and libraries. But the E-rate fund has not grown to meet that need.”

International Association for Online K-12 Learning Have you heard about this ‘personalized learning’ thing?

“As our world continues to offer new possibilities and tools for teaching, learning, communicating and collaborating, we must ensure access to all students—in all learning environments—in order to provide them with every opportunity to prepare for success in college and careers.”

International Society for Technology in Education Let’s go!

“The future of learning means students need to be connected 24/7; the next step is to improve access for all students at home so learning isn’t interrupted.”

Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) Commission Ho-hum.

“The LEAD Commission commends the FCC for taking necessary steps to modernize and increase funding for the E-Rate program.”

National Association of Secondary School Principals Golf clap.

“A solid technology infrastructure in schools places a world of knowledge, expertise, and resources at students’ fingertips, and empowers students to develop and practice the skills they will need to meet the high standards for college and career readiness states are currently implementing.”

National Education Association Enthusiasm.

“Educators know first-hand the tremendous, positive impact the E-Rate Program has had in our classrooms, schools and communities.”

National School Boards Association Big fans.

“The clear and compelling voice of America’s public school districts was heard.”

State Educational Technology Directors Association Happy....but still a little worried.

“Moving forward, it will be vitally important for all of us to continue to work diligently to address the unique technology challenges facing rural and remote schools, as well as to ensure that all students are able to take advantage of digital learning opportunities when they are off-campus, including for homework, for personal enrichment, and when school is not in session.”

Software & Information Industry Association Like most, hearty applause.

“Today’s decision to permanently increase the E-Rate cap will go a long way toward ensuring that all students can take advantage of educational opportunities in this digital age.”

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.