National Association for Children and Safe Technology


"In a country where we expect free Wi-Fi with our coffee, we should definitely demand it in our schools."

February 2014

President Obama

E-rate (ConnectED)

Clyburn, M.L. (July 23, 2013). Statement of Acting Chairwoman Mignon L. Clyburn, Re: Modernizing the E-Rate Program for Schools and Libraries, WC Docket No. 13-184. Federal Communications Commission. FCC 13-100.

Goldfarb, Z.A. (August 13, 2013). Obama Pushes Ambitious Internet Access Plan for Schools. Politics. Washington Post.

Goldfarb, Z.A. (August 14, 2013). White House Calls Broadband Initiative a ‘No-Brainer’. Post Politics. The Washington Post.

Stirewalt, C. (August 14, 2013). We Can’t Wait…To Nominate Another Lobbyist. Politics. Fox News.

Pai, A. (July 23, 2013). Statement of Commissioner Ajit Pai, Re: Modernizing the E-Rate Program for Schools and Libraries, WC Docket No. 13-184. Federal Communications Commission. FCC 13-100.

Rosenworcel, J. (July 23, 2013). Statement of Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, Re: Modernizing the E-Rate Program for Schools and Libraries, WC Docket No. 13-184. Federal Communications Commission. FCC 13 -100.

Wheeler, T., FCC Chairman (January 24, 2014). Helping American Students Compete in a Digital World. Official FCC Blog. Federal Communications Commission.

Wyatt, E. (July 19, 2013). F.C.C. Backs Plan to Update a Fund that Helps Connect Schools to the Internet. Business Day Media & Advertising. The New York Times.

WWW FCC E-Rate Fact Sheet. (July 23, 2013). FCC.

WWW FCC E-Rate Modernization Draws Broad Support. Supportive Statements. (July 23, 2013). FCC.

Federal Communications Commission. (July 23, 2013). Modernizing the E-Rate Program for Schools and Libraries Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. (FCC 13-100; WC Docket No. 13-184). Washington, D.C.: Federal Communications Commission.

FCC Electronic Comment Filing System. WC Docket No. 13 - 184

Submit a filing to the FCC

FCC.  (06 March 2014).  Public Notice:  Wireline Competition Bureau Seeks Focused Comment on E-rate Modernization WC Docket No. 13-184.

Digital Learning

Paving a Path Forward for Digital Learning

The Digital Learning Imperative

How Digital Learning Contributes to Deeper Learning

Digital Learning Now!

Roc, Martens.  (18 March 2014).  Connected Learning:  Harnessing the Information Age to Make Learning More Powerful.  Alliance for Excellent Education.
(Download PDF here: )

Waite, Cyndi. (31 March 2014).  CONNECTED LEARNING: Alliance Report Examines How New Learning Approach Uses Digital Media to “Connect” Students to Interests.

The Alliance.  (08 April 2014).  The Alliance for Excellent Education's Focused Comments on Issues Raised in Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Modernizing the E-rate Program.  The  Alliance for Excellent Education.  (Download PDF here: )

The Alliance.  (31 March 2014).  Culture Shift:  Teaching in a Learner- Centered Environment Powered by Digital Learning.  The Alliance for Excellent Education.
(Download PDF here: )

Deeper Learning.  Alliance for Excellent Education

Dove, Tina.  (08 April 2014).  Diving Deeper Into Deeper Learning.  Alliance for Excellent Education.

Rothman, Robert.  (15 April 2014)  A Deeper Look At Deeper Learning.  Alliance for Excellent Education.

Center for Digital Learning and Policy.  Alliance for Excellent Education.

Wise, Bob.  (14 April 2014).  The Governor's Speech You Don't Want to Hear on Common Core State Standards.  Alliance for Excellent Education.

Telecommunications Act

Telecommunications Act of 1996

Shoretel Sky Get Your Act Together

National Telecommunications and Information Administration

FCC. Telecommunications Act of 1996

Universal Service Fund

Verizon. (2014).  Universal Service Fee.

Verizon,  (2014).  Explanation of Taxes, Fees, Surcharges and Other Charges on Your Bill.

Verizon Wireless Community Blog.  (28 October 2014)  Federal Universal Service Charge Should Be Optional.

GCI.  (2013).  Taxes and Surcharges.

Allibone, Tom.,  Kushnick, Bruce.  (Date unknown).  20 Reasons Why the Universal Service Fund is an Out of Control Slush Fund:  And What we Should Do About it.

AT&T.  (2014).  The Federal Universal Service Fund Charge.

FCC.  (05 May 2014).  FCC Encyclopedia:  Universal Service Charges.


Davis, D. (July 2, 2013). Turkey Takes on Cell Phones, South Korea Treats Digital Zombies. Huffpost. Huffington Post.

Richtel, M. (October 22, 2011). A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute. Business Day Technology. New York Times.


The FCC announced plans to modernize the E-rate program for schools and libraries in July of 2013.  Another name for E-rate Modernization is ConnectED.  
The E-Rate Program was created to provide affordable telecommunication services and funding to schools and libraries across the country.  It was instituted as a result of the original Telecommunications Act of 1996 (see
page section 708).

Demand for technology in educational settings has grown since 1996.  Requests for E-rate funding have outpaced the availability of funds.  According to a 2010 FCC survey, most schools have internet access but don’t have adequate bandwidth to handle “modern educational needs”.  

Proponents of modernization claim that in order to compete with other nations who have taken the digital lead, we must swiftly and comprehensively modernize the E-rate Program now or risk our children falling behind their competitors.  Countries such as Singapore, Uruguay, Turkey, Thailand and South Korea have taken the educational lead, digitally speaking.  But it should also be noted that neuroscientists in South Korea have reported a rise in cases of digital dementia in children.  Digital dementia is a type of brain damage characterized by an obsession with technology, no eye contact, the inability to remember basis information and illegible handwriting.

ConnectED has 3 main program goals according to official FCC documents:

#1 Ensure that schools and libraries have affordable access to 21st Century broadband that supports digital learning. (see FCC Public Notice April 14, 2014).  
More specifically according to another FCC document this will mean:
Connecting 99% of American’s students to high speed broadband within 5 years with speeds of no less than 100 Mbps and a target speed of 1 Gbps. (see page 4, section 7 of the official FCC Proposed Rule Making WC Docket 13-184).

#2  Maximizing the cost-effectiveness of E-rate funds through efficient purchasing via bulk consortia and competitive bidding improvements.  

#3  Cutting red tape to speed, streamline and increase transparency in application reviews.

The FCC’s capacity goals of “no less than 100 Mbps and a target speed of 1 Gbp”;  How does this ‘goal’ translate in terms of children’s health and well-being?   Also, the health and well being of the educators who work in schools?

Digital Learning

Ultimately, the purpose of the FCC’s 3 goals is to create an infrastructure in schools to support Digital Learning; learning facilitated by technology which according to supporters gives students of all ages the ability to access electronic devices for learning anything at any time, anywhere and everywhere.  

Supposedly, interactive and adaptive software lets students learn in their own style, making learning personal and more engaging; no matter the teaching style of the teacher.  Real time data gives teachers information they need to adjust instruction to meet the individual needs of students.  

The role of the teacher in a digital learning environment changes from head of the classroom to the “guide on the side”.
Wireless technology delivers the high quality academic material ranging from new, engaging, interactive and adaptive software to classic literature to video lectures to video games.  We’re not just talking about PDFs and PowerPoint presentations anymore.

Information on Digital Learning excerpted from the Georgia Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.

Universal Service Fund

Currently, the total amount of E-rate support is capped at $2.3 billion and is primarily funded through the Universal Service Fund (USF).  Telecom companies are obligated to contribute to the USF, based on a percentage of their interstate and international end-user telecommunications revenue.  They may choose to recover their USF contributions directly from customers by billing them this charge.  The FCC Guide Understanding Your Telephone Bill states:  The FCC does not require this charge to be passed on to customers.  Each company makes a business decision about whether and how to assess charges to recover it’s universal service costs.  
According to AT&T’s website, the USF fee they collect from customers is taxable and so the customer is also paying a tax on the amount of the USF contribution they are paying.  

The President, FCC Chairman and Commissioners, fervently believe ConnectEd and Digital Learning are critical to children’s future.  However after reading through many resources, it appears to be a plan to promote business; not about children’s education, health and well being.  In one of the FCC commissioner’s statements, there is mention of the economic opportunities it will open.  We must ask which corporations are supporting ConnectED and Digital Learn and what are their motivations?  Children, will they benefit from this or be harmed?

It’s time for us as parents to do our homework on ConnectED and Digital Learning and participate in the democratic process.  For the children’s sake, it is imperative.

ConnectED, Digital Learning & the Universal Service Fund