E-rate/Schools and Libraries Program
One of the first priorities of 2021 should be to enable schools and libraries to use E-Rate to help students and patrons get online from home. To support these extensions is to uphold the program’s founding principles of universal service and access. So what is the hold up? For one, Congress can barely figure out how to pass its annual appropriations bills. Although there is a chance that E-Rate changes could come in the final push for COVID-19 relief legislation, relying on lawmakers typically means waiting, and waiting, and waiting.
Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), both members of the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced the Every Child Connected Act—legislation that aims to reduce the digital divide between students with and without internet access, known as the Homework Gap. Specifically, the legislation accomplishes this goal by targeting available funding sources from Federal Trade Commission data privacy violations to provide vital connectivity to American students at home. The Every Child Connected Act would:
The following items have been deleted from the list of items scheduled for consideration at the Dec 10, 2020 Federal Communications Commission Open Meeting. Items 6 and 8 have been released by the FCC. Items 7, 8 and 10 have been adopted.
6. Florida Community Radio, Inc., Construction Permit for Proposed NCE Station DWRBD (FM), Horseshoe Beach, Florida: The FCC will consider a licensing matter.
As the pandemic forces students out of school, broadband deployment programs aren't going to move fast enough to help families in immediate need of better internet access. But Democrats at the Federal Communications Commission say the incoming Biden administration could put a dent in that digital divide with one fast policy change.
The Federal Communications Commission will hold an Open Meeting on the subjects listed below on Thursday, December 10, 2020:
Connected Nation finds that 47 percent of US school districts—6,132, to be exact, representing about one-third of public K-12 students—meet the 1 Mbps/student standard. Still, that means about two-thirds of students lack what Connected Nation calls “scalable broadband” in schools. The broadband gap isn’t only a problem for remote learning. “Early childhood” videos on YouTube nearly all have advertising. And as video dominates online instruction, more educators need easy-to-use resources for video creation.
The technology gap has prompted teachers to upload lessons on flash drives and send them home to dozens of students every other week. Some children spend school nights crashing at more-connected relatives’ homes so they can get online for classes the next day. Millions of American students are grappling with these challenges, learning remotely without adequate home internet service. Even as school districts have scrambled to provide students with laptops, many who live in low-income and rural communities continue to have difficulty logging on.
The next leadership team of the Federal Communications Commission must prioritize restoring the agency’s authority to protect consumers and competition in the broadband market. Under the next administration, FCC leadership should quickly commence a proceeding proposing to reclassify broadband as a “telecommunications service” under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. This reclassification puts the FCC on the firmest legal ground to
The next administration should maximize the use of all available policy tools to close the homework gap and keep it closed. First, the Federal Communications Commission should update the existing E-rate program to allow schools to ensure home access to broadband for every student and teacher (Pre-K to Grade 12). Second, the FCC, in coordination with the Department of Education, should launch a one-to-one device program for students and teachers (Pre-K to Grade 12).