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Head of FCC Proposes Increasing Internet School Fund 107

Rambo Tribble writes: The commissioners at the FCC are expected to vote, on December 11, on a proposal by Chairman Tom Wheeler to increase the funding for the nation's largest educational technology subsidy program, E-Rate, by 62 percent. The proposal is intended to be paid for by higher fees on phone service. The increased cost is pegged at $1.92 a year, per telephone line. Support for the proposal, or lack thereof, appears to be falling along partisan lines. To quote Wheeler, however, "Almost two-thirds of American schools cannot appropriately connect their students to the 21st century."
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Head of FCC Proposes Increasing Internet School Fund

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  • I don't know if it's my inner luddite awakening with old age or what, but I can't help but feel that without a specific focus, the notion of "internet schooling" does little for anyone.

    • You don't sell computers... or you don't have a juicy government contract to sell lots of computers. This will do a lot for somebody... You know the rules..

    • It provides access to what is effectively the largest library of information in the world for starters. Also, computer based learning provides the opportunity for open source collaborative educating auto-pilots that can be incrementally improved. Rather than a teacher expending efforts to help a single student, they can expend efforts improving the adaptive learning system in a way that will help that student and everyone like that student from then on.

      Of course, if the teacher just continues to do the sam
  • fuck the children. I already pay a small fortune in school tax. Let them find the money for it from there.

    • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Wednesday November 19, 2014 @12:22PM (#48418179) Journal

      You don't even have to say "fuck the children." How about "fuck the athletics program?" I wonder what kind of connectivity that new AstroTurf field could have paid for? Or the new stadium that surrounds it, complete with lighting system that would have been the envy of a minor league sports team just a few years ago. I remember playing in the mud with spectators that had to sit on portable bleachers and games being called because we ran out of daylight.

      In reality there's more important things than uber high speed broadband, like student to teacher ratio, but I think most would agree both are more important than a bloody football field that primarily benefits a small percentage of the student population. PE is important -- look at the American obesity rate -- but one can teach healthy exercise habits without needing an eight digit venue for the occasion.

      • I believe most people have the misunderstanding that the educational system is designed to do anything beyond breeding conformity. As you know, cui bono... Tablets and Xanax, and fear of this battle station will keep them in line.

      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday November 19, 2014 @01:01PM (#48418509)

        In reality there's more important things than uber high speed broadband, like student to teacher ratio

        There likely are more important things than "uber high speed broadband" but "student to teacher" ratio may not be one of them. There is very little evidence that smaller class sizes improve education in any measurable way, other than for disadvantaged kids in very early grades (K & 1). There is even less evidence that "student to teacher ratio" matters. The main advantage of smaller classes seems to come from the fact that they are quieter, rather than smaller. Maybe we should be investing in sound suppressing insulation rather than more teachers. Brighter kids have been found to sometimes do worse in smaller classes, because they are compelled to follow along with the class, rather than reading ahead or studying on their own.

        • by Rhyas ( 100444 )

          I call Bullshit. There is a preponderance of data on class size and how it effects learning. Nearly all of that data supports the theory that smaller classes increase learning. Some of the data supports that it doesn't make a difference, and there is no data at all that supports a theory that larger classes increase learning. The only thing even being contested in this arena is that the results can be interpreted in different ways, and not all studies were able to factor in all variables. Most of the argume

          • There is a preponderance of data on class size

            Yet you cite none. There is actually very, very, little data, especially considering the billions spent reducing classroom size. This follows a long pattern in educational spending, where money is poured into the latest fad, and only is hindsight does anyone bother the check if the money is being wasted.

            I am aware of only three studies conducted on class size:

            1. "Project Prime Time", conducted in Indiana during the 1980s. Results were mixed, but there was no control, so this was not a proper controlled s

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The PE group doesn't even get to use the football field. they are either in the Gym (basketball team gets the shit end of the stick usually, and the Theatre group has to make do since the gym is also used as the auditorium and the stage), or they are outside on what is considered the practice field/soccer field (which you are lucky if it has grass at all).

        baseball team doesn't even practice at the school anymore, as there are usually dedicated ball fields in the Park (which are also used for little league,

      • ...but I think most would agree both are more important than a bloody football field that primarily benefits a small percentage of the student population.

        You most obviously have NOT lived in the deep south or the midwest. Can't afford new books, but we can build a $2M football stadium for the high school and hire 5 football coaches. Because "Johnny gonna be a football star".

    • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Wednesday November 19, 2014 @12:24PM (#48418189) Homepage Journal

      I already pay a small fortune in school tax. Let them find the money for it from there.

      Last I checked, my local government school has a 3 meg connection because that's what Comcast gives them for free. They have a three million dollar budget but can't find $3000 a year to upgrade that to a hundred meg.

      It could be that after all the teachers' salaries and benefits are paid for they don't have any money left (and considering the reams of copy paper we get home...) or it could be that high-speed internet allows remote teaching which is seen as a threat to union jobs.

      I do work for one private school (area towns tuition their kids there) and they paid a lot of money to get fiber brought to their facility.

      The incentives are aligned differently.

      • by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Wednesday November 19, 2014 @12:43PM (#48418321) Homepage Journal
        Teacher's salaries pale in comparison to the administrators salaries. Administrative costs for schools have gone up by thousands of percent over the last 30 years. Where there used to be 1 administrator per every 100 students, there are now sometimes 1 for every 15 in some school districts, more than there are teachers, and the administrators are more highly paid. It is this cost which must be curbed and would free up 2/3 of a school's budget for more appropriate spending. Write your congresscritter.
        • by jythie ( 914043 )
          Yeah, but administrators, being seen as 'business' people, are seen as more deserving of above average pay. Teachers on the other hand are seen as 'less capable' and thus people get pissy if they are not paid less than the regional average.
          • Yes, and administrators, once career bureaucrats, are now actual "business people" seeking community props only to find that there's profit in rent-seeking Federal funds for children. These "business people" naturally demand a higher salary because they've closed some big deals. Unlike the deals they've closed for other employers, however -- these deals benefit other ... "business people," not the school district and certainly not the children. Except for the children whose parents benefit from the deals ma
        • by Rumeal ( 2164720 )
          I question your sources for these numbers. Here are figures from my state (a comparison to some national averages can be found on page 7): [] . This indicates that there are far more teachers than administrators, and that most of the money going to public education is ending up as teacher compensation. Have you found something indicating otherwise?
      • by Shatrat ( 855151 )

        This doesn't jive with my experience. K-12 schools can get federal funding for IP connectivity and in my experience they generally end up with way more than they need. I've seen bus garages with Gigabit connections and elementary schools with 10Gigabit. That's enough bandwidth to aggregate thousands of broadband customers. Maybe qualifying for that funding is a pain or has limitations that some schools don't qualify for, but there's definitely a LOT of money spent every year subsidizing new fiber for sch

        • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
          It sounds like your in an urban area, rural areas have plenty of connectivity issues.
          • by Shatrat ( 855151 )

            Actually I work for a company that specializes in rural areas. Not Alaska or Wyoming rural, but we've built fiber into schools in towns too small for a gas station.
            Like I said, if you fill out the right forms there is a ton of funding available.

        • That 10 gig (more like a 1 gig from what I've seen) connection goes to a central office where the state Dept of Education may provide a gigabit Internet connection that is limited to 300 megs. 300 megs to share to maybe 70 something schools in a school district.... Add to that any administrative locations...

          • by Shatrat ( 855151 )

            I've never seen that. WAN links typically all aggregate back to the BOE/DOE headquarters in the county, or a large high school, and then there is an IP service that is also leased. The WAN links are generally 1GE or 10GE and the IP service then is provided to that location as a separate product and circuit and usually is 'right sized' to be anywhere from 250 mbps to 2-3gbps depending on the size of the county. Usually that IP service is still overkill. I'm not saying that based on "Oh that looks like way

    • I already pay a small fortune in school tax

      You are quite right to curse. The per-pupil spending has quadrupled since 1960ies (inflation-adjusted) []. And that's just national average. The locales with high population density — where you'd expect economies of scale to provide for lower per-pupil costs — actually pay even more. But the quality of education has remained level at best — 70% of 8th-graders can't be said to read proficiently []!

      No one in their right mind would willingly pay 4 times

      • You all piss and moan about the 'teachers union'. Then get off your ass and start a parents union, or a voters union.

        • by mi ( 197448 )

          Then get off your ass and start a parents union, or a voters union.

          It is an uphill battle. Teacher's unions — as well as all other trade-unions — have the official support of the law.

          A unionized workplace — private or governmental alike — can only hire union-members. This makes unions a monopoly, that ought to be illegal under the anti-trust laws, but aren't...

          That's true for any union in general. In addition to that, teachers are uniquely positioned to place their points of view i

          • Of course you are right. I'm was only posting a reflection of the assholes who always jump on me without knowing what I actually do.

            But, we do have the power...

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        It's not the teacher union.
        What you don't understand is most thing the schools depend on have risen FASTER THAN INFLATION.
        Books, supplies, land, fuel, maintenance have ALL risen faster then inflation.

        So many things impact school, you need to use an all item inflation rate.
        Inflation is great for have a specific base as a guide, not so great with daily cost increases.
        You will note that even when inflation is 0(zero) prices still go up.
        1960, a gallon of gas was 31 cents. Using just the basic inflation calculat

        • by mi ( 197448 )

          Books, supplies, land, fuel, maintenance have ALL risen faster then inflation.

          Four times faster?

          If you actually care, learn about CPI. relative privce changes. and 'all item' inflation

          The meanings of "inflation" may be different, but they are all correlated. Consumer price index may be changing different from that of a school, but it they are still tightly related... It is ridiculous to suggest — as you are doing — that one index increase 4-fold without a comparable (even if not equal) increase

      • not sure why this is troll its a legit point. ever since the creation of the department of ed, school spending has gone up yet school completion rate has gone down. a LOT.
      • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

        This is why you're nto worthy of citations. You link without reading. You link without comprehension. You twist words to suit your agenda, which apparently now also includes turning schools into a for profit industry.

        Sepcifically in this case you are abusing the disconenct between the meaning of the word "proficient" as used in the school assessment, and the defninion conjured when someone reads a headline saying "66% are below proficient".

        By abusing this disconnect, and the point the article you linked is

        • by mi ( 197448 )

          From the mediamatters link

          The whole point of the MediaMatters' article was that Wisconsin's 8th-graders are better than the national average. In their zeal to attack Wisconsin's union-busting governor, they publicized the inconvenient truth about the whole nation...

          And I was talking about the national average — using the uber-Illiberal site as citation was just my way of teasing the readers like yourself.

          That is a very different picture than the one you tried to paint.

          What I said remains perfectly tr

    • fuck the children.


    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      "I already pay a small fortune in school tax."
      no, you don't. You pay hardly anything and reap a huge return, moron.

      • You pay hardly anything

        You obviously haven't looked at a property tax bill lately. Public education is a social good so I'm not saying we should get rid of it, but to suggest that it's somehow "cheap" at current rates is misleading at best.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Not a long time ago, I was just a normal internet user that surfed various news sites like Sladshdot [], reddit, or I read a story, perhaps clicked onto some links it contained, and I was mostly happy with my life.

    Then, one day, I surfed Slashdot []. It was one of those days you will remember for the rest of your life. So, as I surfed Sladshdot [], the title of a story got my attention. I read the summary. The topic seemed interesting, so I decided to read further. I read:

    Read on below for the rest what Bennett has to say.

    Usually I don't read first line of

  • Sorry, but no ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday November 19, 2014 @12:16PM (#48418107) Homepage

    See, there is already a fund which is supposed to pay for everybody getting broadband.

    The companies collecting that aren't actually investing in expanding broadband except where it makes them more profit, not where it's needed.

    So, a telecom tax proposed by someone who is a well known shill for the telecom industry ... I'm not buying it.

    Anything which Wheeler proposes at this point, I'm going to assume is designed to line the pockets of industry, and will do nothing at all for the people they claim this will.

    Won't someone think of the children, my ass. This is just a cash grab, plain and simple.

    • Yeah it's a cash grab.

      He's basically pushing to get companies more business paid for by taxpayers.

      • Be easier to just allow municipalities to roll out their own internet services, same as water, fire, police, etc. Of course, that means the lobbyists will continue to grease the skids under that idea ...
    • FCC, remember? Who's the guy running it? Of course this is a scam. So what? It has had no effect on the elections and who gets appointed. I figure everybody's okay with it. If they want to fix it, they will.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Please show one example of him being a shill since he got his new job.
      The tax going to schools is going to schools, it's just not enough.

  • We, the taxpayers, have already paid hundreds of billions to private companies to give us the astoundingly fast broadband speed of 10 Mbps (on average) in this country, two DECADES after these same companies assured us they would get us 45 Mbps by 2010.

    There are already enough fees levied on users, for numerous such issues, that money can be moved from area to another if necessary.

    Instead of adding more costs to consumers, how about having the companies do this work for free since they failed so miserably t

  • by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Wednesday November 19, 2014 @12:29PM (#48418223) Journal
    All funds from government and for government should go through the standard tax system, nothing should bypass in the form of fees.

    The problem with bypassing in the form of fees is that a certain portion of every dollar you make is related to government supported infrastructure (including education). It takes a lot more public infrastructure to enable the generation of million dollars worth of wealth than it does to generate $30,000. Thus a person making $30,000 has a much smaller debt to society to pay back. Anytime a fee like this is introduced that person with the smaller debt is subsidizing and paying debt owed by the person with the larger income.
  • The biggest problem with most public schools is lack of focus on the basics of speaking, writing, math, history and science. None of those even require a computer or internet connectivity. Children can get their office droid skills later, and even IT skills later if they choose that career path.

  • I’ve never understood why taxes for things have to come from oddly tenuously associated sources for the things they fund. Here in DC the Dulles metro extension is mostly funded by tolls on cars on the Dulles tollway, why do the residents in that area get the privilege of subsidizing travel for DC to Dulles whether they would use the metro or not? Why should phones be taxed to fund internet for schools? Shouldn't school infrastructure funding come from some from a mix of property taxes, state fundi

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      For things like schools, you needs wide base for taxing becasue there is no direct association. Yet everyone benefits. Even people without kids benefit from schools.

      And fuck those old people who went to college for 40 dollars a semester then voted to stop taxes so everyone else has to pay outrages costs. No one over 60 should be involved in politics in any way.

      NO, not really, I just feel that way sometimes. Also, people should have to take a critical thinking test to be able to vote.

    • same thing here in the hudson valley in NY, we pay for the metro down to NYC 50 bucks everytime we renew our licenses.

      Why should a car license registration pay for the MTA??
      • Why should a car license registration pay for the MTA??

        Because someone decided that it would be better for you to ride a train to work, even if you don't work where any trains go, than to drive. Fees on what "someone" doesn't want you doing are intended to dissuade you from doing it.

        A lot of people want much higher gas taxes -- make gas cost what it costs in Europe, for example, by raising the cost artificially -- to persuade people to stop using their cars. Tax cigarettes. Tax liquor. Tax ... you get the idea.

        This is the flipside of the social engineering

        • by kenh ( 9056 )

          The gas taxes should cover the cost of required infrastructure, no more.

          Think about the taxes on cigarettes that also pay for children's health care... if they worked and everyone stopped smoking, where would the money come from for children healthcare?

          • The gas taxes should cover the cost of required infrastructure, no more.

            "Should" is a word unknown to regulators. Gas taxes should first of all be used for roads. Unfortunately, gas taxes now, at least where I live, go straight into the general fund and are used for whatever pet projects the local government wants to spend them on, and any road improvements show up as a "transportation maintenance fee" on our local water bill.

            Think about the taxes on cigarettes that also pay for children's health care... if they worked and everyone stopped smoking, where would the money come from for children healthcare?

            Increased gas taxes.

        • dont get me started on the ciggarette taxes in NY. its more in taxes than the pack of smokes cost!. its unethical and should be illegal
  • two-thirds of American schools cannot appropriately connect their students to the 21st century.

    I am unaware of any school system in the United States without internet access. This is probably dependent highly open their own reports definition of "appropriate". I live in a relatively poor school district, and all of the schools have internet including wifi, even in the external buildings like the band room and the gym. there is even expensive switching equipment in every single classroom for some reason.
    If schools are struggling with internet costs it is probably because the contractors are raping them on equipment and installation, making them buy unnecessary equipment.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Switching equipment was probably donated.
      Since they don't have the money to pay for highly experienced and trained people, you end up with crappy set ups.
      Also, how much internet speed?
      The future is being built on high bandwidth, and to not have that in schools hinders Americans future generations.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    More than 15 years ago South Dakota trained prisoners and installed fiber internet to every school and hospital in the state. Now all of them have high speed internet access available. Too bad other states did not see this coming and make that investment.

  • At least the FCC is thinking far enough ahead to realize the schools will need more money to pay for the increasingly expensive, non-net neutral internet access they will be receiving shortly.
  • I would advocate for no more Federal taxes of any sort. Money that goes to Washington never comes back whole. In other words, nobody is as good at bureaucracy spending as the Feds. We are lucky to see 10% of any dollar we send them.

  • Why is this is even needed. Has K-12 education changed that much in the last twenty years? Thinking back on my education, I can't think of anything that would have been improved with high speed internet. The only uses that I'm coming up for at this age group are entertainment uses (i.e. things students shouldn't be doing during school hours) or things like Khan Academy. Are any schools wanting this for online learning? Wouldn't the savings in personnel offset the costs needed for installation? Of cour
  • by morgauxo ( 974071 ) on Wednesday November 19, 2014 @02:34PM (#48419511)

    Microsoft: Recommends (and gets) it's own punishment for anti-competitive practices. Punishment is to donate their own software to schools, helping create another generation of locked in customers for themselves.

    FCC: Refuses to regulate the internet as a utility, allows corporate interests to subvert the open internet. Recommends spending more money on getting that internet to school children.

  • E-Rate (and other government education tech funding) is a very convoluted, murky system that seems to only benefit large corporations that want those high-bid contracts to sell a bunch of their technology that never gets maintained or repaired. Good ideas, bad follow-through. I've seen it too many times where hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on the next whiz-bang whatever that will save the school from "falling behind the curve", only to see most of it broken or lying dormant 3 years later due to

  • ... to pay for extra internet connection fees after Net Neutrality is just a memory from pre-Corporate Sovereignty times.

    John Carlyle: What is going on? Why has production stopped?
    Foreman: He's been exposed.
    John Carlyle: Don't. Don't breathe on me. Cover your mouth.
    Foreman: I'm sorry, sir.
    John Carlyle: Does his skin fall off or something? I don't want to replace the bedding. Just get him out.
    Foreman: Yes, sir.
    John Carlyle: Great. Thank you.
  • Our schools are in a part of the country with decent access to broadband. Both schools where I work have roughly 100 Mbps access via Cable Modem or FIOS for less than $200 per month.

    If you don't have decent broadband choices near your schools, E-rate won't make that problem any better. All it will ensure is that your local school district spends thousands of dollars per month on private connections that are mostly unnecessary.

    The FCC should focus on getting multiple broadband providers into every market a

  • The current e-rate system is not needs-based, they lavish funds on every applicant that can navigate the application process - the answer isn't MORE money, it is in targeting the money to districts with real needs.

    Additionally, there needs to be comprehensive auditing of current expenditures... wasn't it e-rate that paid for carrier-class routers for a rural school district a couple years ago?

    They are treating education like it is a cow you are trying to medicate - to medicate a cow you need to pour a crazy

  • The problem is NOT funding, The problem is that we have people in charge of the schools that are complete MORONS in regard to technology.

    Want to really do some good? design a plan. for the technology backbone in every school and force the schools to adhere to it. Part of the plan is REQUIRED spending on maintenance and replacements. Schools try to use crap forever, I know of TWO schools that still has 10 base T switches in place and Freaking HP routers.

    Schools need to be forced to upgrade the gear. Al

  • For millennia young people congregated in schools and were taught important life lessons and beyond, often without blackboards, books, or anything. Out of a sudden we cannot do this anymore unless every child has an overpriced iPad, fast Internet pipes, smartboards, and other school tech that is outdated before the bonds mature? Where is the fund that properly trains teachers on how to use the equipment? Where is the fund for core academic improvements? I gladly pay for any programs that actually teach the

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