Suburban Chicago district overhauls approach to learning via E-rate funds
- With help from E-rate funding, Illinois' Cicero Public School District 99 was able to modernize its infrastructure and transform its approach to learning with a 1:1 Chromebook deployment, according to EdTech: Focus on K-12.
- The E-rate funds covered an infrastructure overhaul that included switching to WiFi, providing the necessary support for the suburban Chicago district to take full advantage of Chromebooks' capabilities and getting nearly all of its teachers Google-certified.
- According to Bryan Snyder, the district's executive director of Instructional and Digital Technology, the updates to infrastructure and the Chromebook program have allowed educators to pursue more personalized learning experiences while increasing engagement and opportunities for collaboration.
For many districts nationwide, the importance of the Federal Communication Commission's E-rate funding program can't be understated. And while it's easy to look at numbers like those from Funds For Learning's 2017 E-Rate Trends report, which show that 79% of schools and libraries report better internet because of those funds, seeing specific examples of its impact can provide even better proof of its value.
Despite some concern in regard to how the program might fare under the Trump administration, lawmakers have questioned nominees about any plans they might have to change the program, and Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has reportedly described the program to Congress as "worth fighting for."
Still, advocates have advised schools and districts not to take the funding for granted. Pai has suggested optimizing the program to place more focus on better connecting rural schools and districts to high-speed broadband, as many of those communities have long been underserved when it comes to access. But doing so at the expense of urban schools and districts that also need the assistance wouldn't sit well with advocates.
Among the program's most ardent supporters is Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who was nominated back to the commission by President Trump and has advocated for the program's potential to address the "homework gap."
- EdTech: Focus on K-12 An Infrastructure Revamp at Cicero 99 Changed the Culture of Learning
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