Go Support E-rate Changes Before the Government Opens Back Up
These are bleak days if you are a federal education policy wonk. The odds of reauthorizing No Child Left Behind in this administration are about the same odds as Harry Reid asking John Boehner to be his date to the congressional prom. I think there is a reasonable chance it won't be reauthorized in this decade. So what to do?
Well, if you are interested in education technology, one program that you can take an interest in is the E-Rate funding program, which provides federal funds to states and districts for purchasing technology infrastructure. It's funded by the FCC's fees on telecommunications, so it's not subject to the vicissitudes of a completely dysfunctional congress.
The FCC has an open public comment period on E-Rate that actually was supposed to close earlier this month, but due to the shutdown they are still taking public comments. The FCC has the option to update some regulations regarding funding priorities that are a little antiquated and to support additional E-Rate funding to help schools make the transition to the broadband age. Public support would help the FCC directors move in those directions.
Bob Wise, former Governor of West Virginia and head of the Alliance for Excellent Education, is heading up an effort to gather public comments from school districts to pass along to the FCC as they debate these issues. If you are in a school or district struggling with getting the technology infrastructure in place to support the learning environments that you want to create, they would like to hear from you and pass your stories along to the FCC. They have a simple, three question survey at 99in5.org that you can use to pass your thoughts along to the FCC. The Alliance is partnering with the National PTA, national associations for elementary and seconday principals, and a variety of other organizations on this.
If your school or district has not yet had their voice heard on this issue, I think this is a worthy public advocacy effort. Schools have a lot coming at them these days with Common Core, testing, teacher evaluations, and everything else. It'd be great to have one of those things coming at them be more federal resources for expanding core technology infrastructure.