The WASB has joined with at least 40 other state school board associations in signing onto a joint letter from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) opposing the Federal Communication Commission’s proposed cap on the Universal Service Fund (USF) and a sub-cap on the Schools and Libraries (E-Rate) and Rural Health Care Programs. Federal E-Rate allocations play a vital role in helping to fund connecting schools to high-speed broadband. (See previous post.)
In addition, the WASB will be submitting additional, separate comments of its own. The deadline for submitting comments under the current reply comment period ends Monday (Aug 26) at 11:00 p.m. CDT. We will post the WASB’s comments to this blog as soon as they are finished so that any board wishing to submit its own comments can use the WASB’s comments in fashioning those comments.
The E-Rate program is a highly successful program that plays a vital role in aiding schools and libraries to connect to high-speed broadband that is important for learning in today’s modern world. Eligible schools and libraries may receive discounts on telecommunications, telecommunications services and Internet access, as well as internal connections, managed internal broadband services and basic maintenance of internal connections.
These E-Rate discounts help schools and libraries in Wisconsin and throughout the U.S. obtain affordable telecommunications services and Internet access. At a time we should be expanding universal access to broadband, the WASB is concerned that this proposed cap will jeopardize connectivity and learning for students, especially important in underserved rural areas and impoverished urban areas where the so-called “digital divide” or “homework gap” is very real. The lack of access to high-speed broadband remains one of the major obstacles standing in the way of equitable, high-quality education for all students.