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20 Years Strong: How E-rate Has Impacted Educational Equity

Celebrating 20 Years of E-rate 1998-2018 graphic with wifi symbols

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What will it take to bridge the digital divide?

That’s the question that inspires us at EducationSuperHighway, and it’s one that, for years, students, teachers, school district leaders and policymakers nationwide have been trying to answer. And although there are many mechanisms in place to accomplish that goal, none has been nearly as instrumental as the FCC’s E-rate program.

This month, we join fellow advocates to commemorate the 20th anniversary of E-rate with the National Coalition for Technology in Education & Training. At the core of this universal service funding program is the belief that all students, in all locations throughout the country, deserve equal educational opportunities, and the ability to study, work, and thrive in our increasingly digital world. Since 1998, E-rate has made that belief an attainable, affordable goal for school districts.

“Across party lines and geographic boundaries, governors, state and district leaders, schools, and service providers have thoughtfully leveraged E-rate’s resources to make the promise of nationwide connectivity a tangible reality.” – Evan Marwell, Founder and CEO, EducationSuperHighway

In our work across 24 states, we hear time and time again how important E-rate has been in increasing educational opportunity for America’s students. Here’s some of the recognition we’ve heard over the years about E-rate and its impact on education.

Klein Independent School District, TX

“E-rate is a huge part of our budgeting. It’s a fantastic program that allows us to be aggressive in our planning knowing that at least for bandwidth we’re going to be reimbursed. It makes the budgeting possible, and we know that as bandwidth needs grow it’s going to be economically sustainable. We may pour more money upfront into our bandwidth, but to know that the end user experience is solid and allows them to do much more is worth it – we’re putting [the user] first.”

Kaneland Country Unified School District 302, IL

“Once these projects are completed, I’ll have 10 Gbps to every building; my goal is to have a central data center where I can host all of our servers and have robust access to all of our different schools. We’ve been working on this for 6-7 years trying to get this built out.. finally seeing an end to it is huge.”

Missoula County Public Schools, MT

“We will begin saving nearly $80,000 each year. Those savings will be diverted into classroom technology for staff and students!!”

Lunenburg County Public Schools, VA

“I think that many of us in the smaller rural divisions will find ourselves in the same situation. Funding and pricing seem to be our barriers. We are very thankful, however, for E-rate funding, as without E-rate, we would not have the service we have recently received, such as Wi-Fi, [that] we currently enjoy!”

Uinta County School District #1, WY

“It’s the educational opportunity for students. We’ve been a strong proponent for years of using digital tools and pedagogy… If your wireless and network isn’t robust enough, you’re going to struggle… those Category 2 funds are crucial to allow student success in the classroom.”

Pflugerville Independent School District, TX

“We are very proud of what we’ve accomplished regarding our WAN dark fiber, and including our recent wireless project that was also reimbursed by E-rate to the tune of $2.4 million. We are in our second year of a new Internet contract with Grande Communications that provides our district with 5 Gbps of Internet capacity that–interestingly enough–turned out to be the same annual cost as our old 500 Mbps contract that expired a few years ago. Huge win for our students.”

Poquoson City Public Schools, VA

“We have truly realized individualized instruction for all students. The necessary resources are all in place.. great things happen when students have the world at their fingertips!”

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