Education Week - April 24, 2013 - (Page 9)

EDUCATION WEEK Overhaul of the E-Rate Seen as a High Priority By FCC Commissioner By Sean Cavanagh A member of the Federal Communications Commission has offered a detailed and far-reaching case for overhauling the E-rate program to ensure online access for students and schools as demand for Web use rises. In calling for creation of an “Erate 2.0,” Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said the pressures put on school districts by the upcoming common-core online assessments, and an increasing emphasis overall on Web-based learning, are significantly straining districts’ online capacity. Eighty percent of the schools and libraries in the United States report that their broadband connections do not meet their needs, she told attendees at an event arranged by the Consortium for School Networking, the International Society for Technology in Education, and the State Educational Technology Directors Association, in coordination with the Software and Information Industry Association’s Ed Tech Government Forum this month. “Let’s be honest, those needs are only going to grow,” Ms. Rosenworcel said, according to an fccprovided copy of her remarks. “School administrators are facing tough choices about limited bandwidth in the classroom. How to divvy it up, what grades and classrooms get it, and what programs they can run on it.” Established by Congress in 1996, the E-rate is designed to ensure that all schools and libraries, particularly those in disadvantaged or rural communities, have communications services, including connections to the Internet. The program, which receives funding through fees collected from telecommunications providers, is administered by the fcc and managed by the nonprofit Universal Service Administrative Co. Schools and libraries do not obtain aid directly from the program, but instead apply to receive discounts on the costs of services. Discounts vary, with greater amounts going to poorer applicants. Demand for the program has created a need for more money to flow to schools, Ms. Rosenworcel told the industry group. “E-rate 2.0 needs more funding,” she said. The program’s size was set 15 years ago, she noted: “That was when .03 percent of American households had Internet access.” Changes Outlined In her speech, Ms. Rosenworcel said the E-rate would prove crucial to cultivating students’ online and overall academic skills, and to keeping the United States competitive with other countries. She called for a number of changes that she said would benefit the program. They include: • Redirecting savings resulting from audits of another Universal Service-funded program, the Lifeline program—which provides discounts on monthly telephone service for impoverished individuals to connect to jobs, family, and 911 services—into the E-rate. Recent audits have saved, or are on track to save, hundreds of millions of dollars, Ms. Rosenworcel said. • Setting clear “capacity goals” for schools seeking E-rate funds. Applicants should include information about capacity and needs, the commissioner said. By the 201516 school year, every school should have access to 100 megabits per 1,000 students; by the end of the decade, every school should have access to 1 gigabit per 1,000 students. • Encouraging more publicprivate sector partnerships that would help build “cost-effective technologies, educational applications, and devices.” • Creating a simpler process for E-rate applications. That should include allowing multiyear applications and those submitted by consortia, changes that would reduce administrative expenses, the commissioner said. Heavy Reliance For Ms. Rosenworcel’s proposals to take effect, they would need the approval of the full fcc. Douglas Levin, the executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association, or setda, told Education Week that a reform of the E-rate program is “long past overdue.” His association has been a strong advocate for schools to establish “capacity goals” to understand how big the gap is between what they have and what they need. The changes outlined by Ms. Rosenworcel are responsive to those needs, and the fcc has broad authority to pursue all of these changes moving forward, he said. “Without question, if there are not changes to the E-rate program, in some respects, it will collapse under its own weight,” said Mr. Levin. “There have been conversations and it has been abundantly clear that the E-rate program is under a lot of pressure and that there was need for it to evolve to meet new needs, in part because of its success. We were relying on these services more than people anticipated when it launched so many years ago.” f cc recognition of the rising technology needs of schools was highlighted last week when the commission appointed Michael Steffen, who recently served as the legal adviser to the fcc chairman, to the newly created position of digital learning director. “The new digital learning appointment is another good sign,” said Mr. Levin. Editorial Intern Victoria O’Dea contributed to this article. n APRIL 24, 2013 n Chart a Path to COMMON CORE SUCCESS Two new Professional Development Institutes from ASCD answer your most difficult questions and help you chart a path to successful implementation of the Common Core State Standards. • DEVELOP Curriculum Aligned to the Common Core State Standards • DESIGN AND DELIVER Common Core Plans with Your Colleagues SELECT A CONVENIENT DATE AND LOCATION Common Core and the Understanding by Design® Framework: Planning Units with the End in Mind • April 25–26: Columbus, OH • PREPARE STUDENTS FOR COLLEGE Using Formative Assessment Practices • April 29–30: Indianapolis, IN • May 2–3: Detroit, MI • May 8–9: Chicago, IL • June 17–18: New Orleans, LA 1-DAY INSTITUTE • June 20–21: Denver CO Using Formative Assessment to Meet the Demands of the Common Core Discover how classroom formative assessments aligned to the Common Core help accomplish the instructional shifts in English language arts and mathematics, identify students’ learning errors, and provide feedback that leads to more effective instruction. Using Formative Assessment to Meet the Demands of the Common Core • April 25: Columbus, OH • May 6: Minneapolis, MN • May 8: Chicago, IL • May 9: Milwaukee, WI 2-DAY INSTITUTE Common Core and the Understanding by Design® Framework: Planning Units with the End in Mind Find out how to use the acclaimed Understanding by Design framework to transform broad standards into ready-made curriculum, create units that align to college and career-ready learning goals, and more! • June 10: Louisville, KY • June 11: Cincinnati, OH • June 14: Nashville, TN Visit us online at to see more dates and locations. Seating Is Limited—REGISTER TODAY! ® Call 1-800-933-2723 or 1-703-578-9600, then press 1. Or register online at 9

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - April 24, 2013

Education Week - April 24, 2013
Union Sues Over Basis of Appraisal
In San Antonio, Pre-K Initiative Sets Steep Goals
New Teachers Search for Place in New Orleans
FOCUS ON: CAREER READINESS: States Seek High School Pathways Weaving Academic, Career Options
News in Brief
Report Roundup
PARCC Proposes Common-Core Test Accommodations
Some States Seek GED Alternative as Test Price Spikes
Blogs of the Week
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Online Socialization Is Hot Topic Among Researchers
Overhaul of the E-Rate Seen as a High Priority by FCC Commissioner
Comments Weighed on Vending Machine, ‘A La Carte’ Proposals
Corralling Local Support Still a Challenge
FOCUS ON: CAREER READINESS: Swiss Academic, Career Paths Designed to Cross
Obama’s Proposed Fix on Student Loans Ruffles Allies
Head Start Officials Tight-Lipped on Which Centers to Lose Aid
Policy Brief
Legislative Briefs
School Safety Legislation: A Tally by State
LAUREN BLAIR ARONSON: Advice to TFA From a Former Insider
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace

Education Week - April 24, 2013