The state of Connecticut is giving every student in grades K-12 a laptop and paying for their internet access. Recently, the state announced that it had achieved near-universal access for both device distribution and connectivity—a significant achievement in a state where 40 percent of households in some cities lack home access, according to census data. The program, known as the
It’s one of the cruelest ironies in education: today’s schools must build and maintain robust high-speed, fiber-optic internet connections. But the process involved in finding funds for these upgrades can feel like a laggy dial-up modem, slow to a crawl—when it’s not cutting out completely. For more than 20 years, the Federal Communications Commission has directed the multi-billion dollar E-rate program, which provides taxpayer-supported construction and service discounts that districts and libraries can use toward internet costs.
With network neutrality in the rearview mirror, is E-Rate next on the Federal Communications Commission’s chopping block? Experts admit it’s possible, if unlikely, but suggest a more probable series of modest changes in the short term. “I understand there are concerns about [FCC Chairman Ajit] Pai,” says John Harrington, CEO of the E-Rate consultancy Funds For Learning.