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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

2-in-5 is 0-for-3

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the 2-in-5 Rule must go. For those who don't know, the 2-in-5 Rule is an FCC rule created in 2003 in the Third Report and Order, which says that you can only purchase equipment with E-Rate funding twice every five years. The idea was to reduce the amount that 90% schools were spending, in order to give other schools a chance.

As I've said before, the rule adds complexity, is unfair to small applicants, and creates waste. And now we have further evidence that it fails utterly in its purported purpose. In the Third Report and Order, the FCC said, "We find that, by limiting the frequency in which applicants may receive Priority Two discounts, funds will be made available to more eligible schools and libraries on a regular basis." They could not have been more wrong.

This week's E-Rate Central News says that it's likely that all applicants below 80% will be denied Internal Connections funding this week. And that's with the unjust rollover of $650 million increasing the size of the fund by 30%. The 2-in-5 Rule is not making funding "available to more eligible schools and libraries." And it is definitely not making funding available "on a regular basis." Still, only 90% schools can count on funding. The schools that the rule was supposed to benefit now have to juggle the 2-in-5 Rule with guesses about the discount level in making technology decisions, instead of making decisions based on educational goals.

The 2-in-5 Rule has been in effect for 3 years, and it has not had any demonstrable effect on the availability of funding for schools below 90%. How much longer do we have to wait before we declare the rule a failure?

The 2-in-5 Rule must go! Now!

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