Patterns of E-Rate funding to school districts: An eight state comparison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: The E-Rate program has been widely applauded for helping American schools achieve almost 100 percent internet connectivity, up from 14 percent in 1996. However, mismanagement and complex administration problems have tainted the program's fame, making it a target for criticism by many commentators, scholars and even governmental agencies. Previous research has suggested that the complex and multi-stage application process may prevent some school districts from availing of E-Rate funds due to lack of technical expertise and administrative support. The objective of this paper is to examine the patterns of distribution of E-Rate funds, especially across the rich-poor and rural-urban divides, using nationwide data Design/methodology/approach: A total of eight states were selected, two each from four categories defined based on the degree of urbanization and per capita personal income: rural rich, rural poor, urban rich and urban poor. From these states, a total of 343 school districts were randomly chosen, roughly equally from the four groups. The E-Rate funding data for 2006 were obtained from the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC) database and information on each school district from the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) Findings: The results indicate a mixed picture on how well the program has fulfilled its policy intent of supporting the most disadvantaged school districts. For example, the percentage of free/reduced lunch eligible students was not a significant predictor for the amount of E-Rate funds, although this is a critical threshold for deciding the discount levels. While the poverty level of the district, revenue per student, and locations were not significant, only the percentage of minority students and ratio of total staff to total number of students in the district displayed positive and significant effects. Contrary to some of the previous results, this nationwide sample did not reveal any significant relationship between districts' locations and funding amounts. However, it is evident that there are clear differences between groups. Particularly, rural and poor states had less funding compared to other groups in 2006 Practical implications: It has been suggested that the complex and multi-stage application process may prevent some school districts from availing of E-Rate funds due to lack of technical expertise and administrative support. With the data of one state, Pennsylvania, the findings partly supported the hypothesis by showing that rural and poor schools continue to get less funding compared to their urban and richer counterparts Originality/value: The paper extends the scope of previous empirical study to a nationwide sample, and analyzes the competing influences on the patterns of distribution of E-Rate funds

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-58
Number of pages13
Journalinfo
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 18 2010

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funding
district
Students
school
student
expertise
rate
comparison
School districts
Funding
Statistics
Group
Internet
lack
connectivity
poverty
urbanization
revenue
income
criticism

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development

Cite this

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title = "Patterns of E-Rate funding to school districts: An eight state comparison",
abstract = "Purpose: The E-Rate program has been widely applauded for helping American schools achieve almost 100 percent internet connectivity, up from 14 percent in 1996. However, mismanagement and complex administration problems have tainted the program's fame, making it a target for criticism by many commentators, scholars and even governmental agencies. Previous research has suggested that the complex and multi-stage application process may prevent some school districts from availing of E-Rate funds due to lack of technical expertise and administrative support. The objective of this paper is to examine the patterns of distribution of E-Rate funds, especially across the rich-poor and rural-urban divides, using nationwide data Design/methodology/approach: A total of eight states were selected, two each from four categories defined based on the degree of urbanization and per capita personal income: rural rich, rural poor, urban rich and urban poor. From these states, a total of 343 school districts were randomly chosen, roughly equally from the four groups. The E-Rate funding data for 2006 were obtained from the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC) database and information on each school district from the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) Findings: The results indicate a mixed picture on how well the program has fulfilled its policy intent of supporting the most disadvantaged school districts. For example, the percentage of free/reduced lunch eligible students was not a significant predictor for the amount of E-Rate funds, although this is a critical threshold for deciding the discount levels. While the poverty level of the district, revenue per student, and locations were not significant, only the percentage of minority students and ratio of total staff to total number of students in the district displayed positive and significant effects. Contrary to some of the previous results, this nationwide sample did not reveal any significant relationship between districts' locations and funding amounts. However, it is evident that there are clear differences between groups. Particularly, rural and poor states had less funding compared to other groups in 2006 Practical implications: It has been suggested that the complex and multi-stage application process may prevent some school districts from availing of E-Rate funds due to lack of technical expertise and administrative support. With the data of one state, Pennsylvania, the findings partly supported the hypothesis by showing that rural and poor schools continue to get less funding compared to their urban and richer counterparts Originality/value: The paper extends the scope of previous empirical study to a nationwide sample, and analyzes the competing influences on the patterns of distribution of E-Rate funds",
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Patterns of E-Rate funding to school districts : An eight state comparison. / Park, Eun A.; Jayakar, Krishna Prasad.

In: info, Vol. 12, No. 3, 18.05.2010, p. 46-58.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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