E-rate/Schools and Libraries Program
Lack of student connectivity at home may seem like a recent problem borne of the digital age. But it has historical antecedents in the movement to ensure all students have access to textbooks that they can use both in school and at home. It should, therefore, be viewed as part of a broader dialogue about what is required for an adequate and equitable education.
Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced bipartisan legislation to provide E-Rate Support for School Bus Wi-Fi to help close the homework gap while students travel on their daily school bus routes.
Timing of $7 Billion E-Rate Expansion Has Education Advocates Eyeing Long-Term Connectivity Planning Over Quick Fixes
The latest COVID-19 relief package includes over $7 billion to expand E-rate to better tackle students’ at-home internet needs. But with the dollars doled out so far into the crisis and the end of the school year fast approaching, expectations for how the additional funding will be spent have shifted among school officials and advocates from getting quick fixes, like mobile hotspots, to more long-term projects that will ensure that schools can sustain the progress they’ve made to become more digital-learning friendly.
Federal and state officials said Wednesday that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed grave disparities in education and the digital divide, posing challenges at all levels of government. “The laptops that many of our schools are providing, if you aren’t able to connect that somewhere, you still have a problem,” said Rep Alma Adams (D-NC), a member of the House Education and Labor Committee.
Reactions to House Passage of the American Rescue Plan Act, $7.1 Billion Emergency Connectivity Fund
On March 10, the US House of Representatives passed the American Rescue Plan, a coronavirus relief package that includes more than $7 billion in funding for the E-Rate program to support emergency broadband connectivity and devices for schools and libraries and their students, staff, and patrons.
The latest coronavirus relief bill sets aside $7.6 billion to help students and teachers get online, in an ambitious effort to address the “homework gap.” The funding will allow elementary schools, high schools and libraries to purchase Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, and routers for students, and also fund the Internet service that those devices use.
Q&A with FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel: The ‘Homework Gap’ Is an ‘Especially Cruel’ Reality During the Pandemic
A Q&A with Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel on how she plans to use her new role at the FCC to tackle digital equity issues. "We must start recognizing that for students who don’t have internet access at home, having the school loan out a wireless hot spot is the difference between keeping up in class and falling behind. We can do something to fix this. It’s why we’re in the process of evaluating how we can update the current E-rate program to meet the moment students and families find themselves in," she said. ...
The Senate — following a grueling vote-a-rama on March 5-6 — has finally approved a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill, bringing it one step closer to becoming law. The House is slated to take up the Senate version of the bill shortly and send it to President Joe Biden for his signature. Included in the bill is a provision that establishes a $7.6 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund, to be implemented by the Federal Communications Commission, to expand internet connectivity to students and teachers during the pandemic.
Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel's Response to Senators Wicker and Thune Regarding Keeping Americans Connected During the COVID-19 Pandemic
On February 12, Sens Roger Wicker (R-MS) and John Thune (R-SD) sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel raising concerns about the Universal Service Fund’s (USF) long-term sustainability as a mechanism to close the nation’s digital divide.
Senate Democrats aren’t setting aside quite as much money as their House counterparts for Federal Communications Commission online learning efforts, according to the latest legislative text for the $1.9 trillion pandemic aid package. Although House Democrats had wanted $7.6 billion in FCC funding, the Senate version includes just $7.17 billion. Senators are gearing up for final votes on the bill soon.