The ConnectED scheme: Proposed new $5 per year cellphone tax could be used to bring more U.S. schools online

The ConnectED scheme
Unwilling to ask Congress for extra funds to pay for high-speed Internet connections in schools, President Obama is instead looking to tack yet another charge on cellphones through the Federal Communications Commission.  The new program, called ConnectED, would expand an existing school-wiring effort and cost each cellphone user about $5 a year, said White House officials.
President Obama’s plan to bring high-speed Internet connectivity to 99 percent of America’s school students. The five year scheme was revealed back in June and at the time, there was vague talk about raising taxes on phone bills to help pay for the initiative – except it wasn’t clear whether this was fixed or phones, or when such a tax would be implemented, if at all.
That question has been answered today, and it’s cellphone users who will be paying. White House officials, quoted in the New York Post, say each phone user will end up paying about $5 extra per year on their bill, or around $0.40 each month. It’s unlikely to break the bank, but it’s enough to notice.
The FCC is considering completely reworking the E-Rate. The goal will be to reach President Obama’s goal of providing 100 Mpbs-1 Gbps of bandwidth to schools serving 99 percent of students, and to provide wireless access inside schools. Allocating funding based on enrollment is one proposal, but the FCC is also considering cutting the top discount level, eliminating telephone service from the program, expanding eligibility of fiber leases, etc.
To see a brief list of the changes that the FCC is considering
For those with more time, here is the full Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)
It’s worth reading the comments of Commissioners Rosenworcel and Pai at the end of the NPRM, as they lay out very different visions of what the reform should look like. And the FCC really does read the comments. I think comments from school districts are especially powerful. It’s pretty easy to file comments online; here are the FCC’s instructions: FYI, E-Rate comments should be filed in Docket 02-6.
Comments were due September 16, 2013.


Proposal announcement from NASA to partner on STEM Education

“NASA Office of Education, in cooperation with NASA Headquarters’ Office of the Chief Technologist and Mission Directorates (Aeronautics Research, Human Exploration and Operation, and Science), is publicizing an opportunity to partner with NASA on a noexchange-of-funds basis to achieve high-impact, nation-wide results for STEM education.
NASA has a variety of resources, including those listed in Appendix 1, which may be available for STEM education partnerships. NASA turns to partners to leverage the Agency’s STEM education resourcesto achieve mutually beneficial goals. NASA seeks high-impact national scale results that will help the Agency achieve its strategic goals and outcomes for education (see 2. Background). NASA seeks to broaden the STEM education audience and include diverse individuals who are underrepresented in STEM education. NASA Education recognizes the untapped potential of strategic partnerships, including public-private partnerships, for advancing national goals for STEM education. This Announcement specifically seeks requests for partnering with NASA outside of traditional tools such as grants, cooperative agreements, or contracts.
Federal STEM efforts (National Science and Technology Council 2012) advocate forbroadening participation and inclusion of diverse individuals (such as
persons with disabilities, women, and ethnic or racial minorities) in STEM education.
NASA Education, therefore, continually strives to increase its impact in areas of greatest
national need by casting a wider geographic net and increasing programs and services to
underserved and underrepresented populations.

[ECP] Educational CyberPlayGround: K12 Newsletters – NASA

Guidance for Education and Public Outreach Activities Under Sequestration

NASA has taken the first steps in addressing the mandatory spending cuts called for in the Budget Control Act of 2011. The law mandates a series of indiscriminate and significant across-the-board spending reductions totaling $1.2 trillion over 10 years.
As a result, NASA has been forced to implement a number of new cost-saving measures, policies, and reviews in order to minimize impacts to the mission-critical activities of the Agency. Guidance regarding conferences, travel, and training that reflect the new fiscal reality in which the agency must operate has been provided.
For specific guidance as it relates to public outreach and engagement activities please reference the following webpage.

Check out the following NASA opportunities for the education community. Full descriptions are listed below.

Continue reading “[ECP] Educational CyberPlayGround: K12 Newsletters – NASA”

K12 Department of Education Sequester

The Department of Education’s share of the sequester is $2.5 billion.

K12 Department of Education Sequester

President Obama recently signed into law a Continuing Resolution (CR) agreement, extending funding for education programs and other parts of the federal budget at Fiscal Year 2013 levels — minus $85 billion in automatic, across-the-board budget cuts, also known as the sequester — through September 30, 2013.  The Department of Education’s share of the sequester is $2.5 billion.  The CR also included an additional across-the-board budget cut of 0.2%, which works out to about $136 million of the agency’s $68 billion in discretionary funding.  The CR requires all agencies to submit an operating plan to Congress showing the amounts for programs, projects, and activities by April 25.  Meanwhile, the President will release his FY 2014 budget proposal on April 10.