Another View -- Kelly Ayotte and Ajit Pai: Bringing the rural classroom into the Digital Age
Managed by the Federal Communications Commission, E-Rate allows schools and libraries to buy technology services (such as Internet access) at a discount from communications providers. E-Rate then compensates those providers for the amount of the discount. Lower-income schools and a few rural schools receive larger discounts than their wealthier counterparts. And federal rules prioritize who gets how much for what service.
It's partly because of the administrative hurdles in the E-Rate application process. It can take hours of paperwork, months of waiting, and an understanding of E-Rate's convoluted and antiquated rules to even have a chance of obtaining funding. The most successful schools tend to hire outside consultants to navigate the process for them - an option that many schools, especially small and rural ones, can't afford. More important, they shouldn't have to.
Preparing our children to succeed in the digital world of tomorrow requires us to connect them today. E-Rate must reflect the needs of today's students, regardless of which school they attend.
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