The US E-rate program provides funding assistance to help K-12 schools connect classroom devices through Wi-Fi to the Internet. Since the program was modernized for 2015, it has helped raise the proportion of schools reporting sufficient classroom Wi-FI access to 88%. That’s up from 25% in 2013 according to a report by EducationSuperHighway. Of course, there is still work to be done extending high speed Internet access to more schools, as well as maintaining and upgrading the access that exists.
So when the FCC put out a call for comments on E-rate category two budgets, it raised concern with educators across the country. Given the uncertainties inherent with the new administration, as well as a change in leadership at the FCC, it is incumbent on those who believe in the benefits of the E-rate program to provide as much commentary on the issue as possible. With this in mind, surveyed our broad base of K-12 educators to collect their E-rate experiences for forwarding to the FCC. Our survey specifically addresses the topics that the FCC is probing: Why have 25% of schools not yet participated in E-rate? Does the program provide sufficient assistance? How could the program be improved?
Here is a sampling of the survey results.
Comments From Survey Participants
Without E-rate, we would not be able to afford our network. Our students would not get the education they deserve and would be left behind.
Erate funding is an important part of our networking budget. We run a BYOD program and need E-rate funds to maintain a network capable of handling our students’ needs.
Without E-rate our infrastructure would still be in the 20th century
It would be impossible to do what we have done with E-rate! We are a very small rural district that struggles with finding funds for technology.
Getting Category 2 funding for the first time with e-rate modernization has made a big impact on allowing our district to improve switching infrastructure and wireless access.
We need it.
The upgrades for our District would not have been made had it not been for USAC funded e-rate.
Online testing demands robust wireless. Neighboring classrooms with AP loads of 30 each are now common especially now.
E-rate program is a great program for us. We just can’t utilize all the resources the way the current structure is set up. We have money left over from our 5 years at one site that we really can’t do anything either and don’t have enough money at another site. Kind of ashamed we can’t transfer from one site to another.
Tech Director for 20 years. E-Rate is why we have a stable, up-to-date foundation. The school system had no funds to build out the infrastructure without E-Rate. We would not even be close to where we are now without it.
Being a charter network of schools in Texas, we are constantly fighting and advocating for more equality with traditional ISDs regarding access to federal or state funding. E-rate gives us the opportunity to deliver exceptional service to our staff and students helping us access technology resources we would otherwise have a lot of difficulty acquiring. We wish the program will stay around to support our dreams of expansion, but we also would like to see the process simplified before being modernized.
E-rate keeps the Internet going. Without funding we couldn’t get anywhere near ready for online testing. We thank you for all of the help!
This is far and wide the only reason we have the capacity we currently have and the only way we can stay competitive to private schools
E-rate is absolutely essential for our school district. Many of our students come from very low income families with no access to computers or the internet at home. It’s an invaluable resource for our school, students, and families in providing not just educational materials but also to support our school environment and families who need extra help. Without the funding from E-rate many of our services could not be offered to our families and leave them with fewer options for education and care.
The E-rate program has been extremely helpful with keeping our schools up to date with network technologies. Ditching E-rate would be devastating to districts like ours.
As a high poverty district, E-Rate is essential to the operation of our network. Our ability to deliver electronic curriculum depends on the discounted hardware that E-Rate provides. There would not be a scenario where our budget could afford the hardware necessary to provide all classrooms with the appropriate level of connectivity for all students to receive their digital content concurrently.
Conclusion and More Information
The results of the survey show just how valuable the E-rate continues to be for K-12 education. In this context, we certainly hope the FCC is not considering and reduction to the program, especially to category two – which this survey shows is especially important. We have passed the full survey results back to the FCC by uploading them to the FCC filing site.
For more information on the E-rate program, please visit our E-rate Resource Center.
Here are our full E-rate survey results.