Over 50 million students and their teachers have been displaced from the nation’s classrooms by the corona pandemic. School districts are working swiftly to find ways to serve their families remotely, but the country’s longstanding failure to ensure universal broadband access means many students lack access to meaningful, secure online learning opportunities. Without the ability to equitably deliver online learning to all of their students, some state and local leaders have been forced to limit their digital responses to the emergency to basic communications with students about homework and infrequent instruction.
Congress recently approved three emergency spending bills to help communities navigate the pandemic, including providing critically needed initial financial help and regulatory flexibility for states and school districts. School districts may use this emergency aid to help unconnected students and teachers participate in online learning, but the incredible scope of the emergency, including the significant economic downturn, mean many other educational uses are competing for the same limited federal resources. Congress is beginning work on a fourth emergency spending bill and now is the time for school district technology leaders to call on legislators to provide dedicated connectivity and network security funding, through the E-rate program, to ensure that every student and teacher has the secure broadband access they need to continue their studies.
Please join CoSN in calling on federal leaders to close the “homework gap” once and for all. Act now by using the model letter provided to contact your Members of Congress and the FCC.