Over 7,500 Education Leaders Call on FCC to Fund Home Internet Access Amid School Closures
NEWS RELEASE: March 24, 2020 CONTACTS
- Phillip Lovell, Alliance for Excellent Education (All4Ed), 202.494.5004, [email protected]
- Heidi Payter, Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), 822.9491 and 734.756.5853, [email protected]
- Bob Farrace, National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), 703.860.7252, [email protected]
- Charlotte Blane, National School Boards Association (NSBA), 838.6231, [email protected]
- Candice Dodson, State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), 202.715.6636 x701, [email protected]
Washington, D.C. (March 24, 2020)—More than 7,500 district superintendents, school board members, principals, teachers, and others called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today to allow the E-rate program to fund home internet access for the 50 million students nationwide now learning online because of school closures.
School districts across the country are turning to online learning as a way to continue instruction while school buildings are closed due to the coronavirus. But many students will be unable to benefit from these opportunities due to the “homework gap” — the inability of students to do school work at home due to a lack of home internet access. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, 14% of children had no internet access at home in 2017, with major equity gaps—12% of White students had no internet access at home, compared to nearly 20% of Black and Latino students, and 37% of Native American students.
The FCC’s E-rate program offsets the cost of internet access in schools and libraries. Now that classes are moving online, educators are calling on the FCC to fund home internet access through E-rate as well. A letter signed by 7,664 district superintendents, school board members, principals, teachers, and others from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and American Samoa, urges the FCC to assist them in supporting students:
“At this unprecedented time in our nation’s history, the FCC has the opportunity to make a dramatic impact on educational equity for millions of students. The coronavirus is impacting nearly every facet of American life. With your partnership, we can mitigate this disruption by continuing to provide the nation’s students the education they need and deserve.”
The letter was organized by the Alliance for Excellent Education, Consortium for School Networking, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National School Boards Association, and State Educational Technology Directors Association. Their call mirrors a request from Senators Ed Markey, Michael Bennet, Brian Schatz, and 13 other senators sent to the FCC last week.
“Will learning continue while schools are closed? It largely depends on the FCC,” said Deb Delisle, President and CEO of the Alliance for Excellent Education. “School districts across the country are doing everything they can to continue educating students while school buildings are closed. However, the “homework gap” is going to widen the achievement gap unless the FCC steps in to ensure historically underserved students can access online learning at home.”
“Now more than ever before, policymakers and internet providers must ensure that every student and teacher across the country has access to high capacity broadband at home. Using the FCC’s E-Rate program, alongside other universal service programs, to expand connectivity for learning is not only practical, but essential, in this digital age,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN.
“The Covid-19 crisis exacerbates the broadband inequity that the education community has been battling for many years. Resourced families can reap the promise of 24-7 learning, while students without access fall farther and farther behind. A nation that values the potential of every child cannot allow this gap to persist. And during this extraordinary time, we strongly urge the FCC to expand the use of E-rate funds to allow all students to access the resources they require to continue their learning remotely,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, CEO, National Association of Secondary School Principals.
“It’s a critical time for our nation’s students and for public schools. With more states closing their schools for the reminder of the school year, it’s imperative that every child have access to distance learning opportunities. School boards are doing everything they can to provide schoolchildren with the ability to learn. Congress can help to alleviate this situation by including $2 billion dollars in the Coronavirus rescue package to fund home internet access for all students. Millions of students currently don’t have adequate internet access in their homes, but we can take significant steps to enable this valuable and necessary resource. Congress needs to deliver for these students by funding and expanding access to the FCC’s E-Rate program,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director & CEO, National School Boards Association.
“Now, more than ever, it is time to level the playing field across our country by ensuring equity, access and opportunity for all learners. Families without connectivity are not only cut off from instructional activities and being able to complete homework, but risk isolation from essential support during this pandemic,” stated Candice Dodson, Executive Director of SETDA.
The Alliance for Excellent Education (All4Ed) is a Washington, DC–based national policy, practice, and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all students, particularly those underperforming and those historically underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship. all4ed.org
CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) is the premier professional association for school system technology leaders. CoSN provides thought leadership resources, community best practices and
advocacy tools to help leaders succeed in the digital transformation. CoSN represents over 13 million students in school districts nationwide and continues to grow as a powerful and influential voice in K-12 education. cosn.org
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is the leading advocate for public education and supports equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. NSBA believes education is a civil right necessary to the dignity and freedom of the American people, and all children should have equal access to an education that maximizes his or her individual potential. The association represents state school boards associations and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S. nsba.org
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and voice for principals and other school leaders across the United States. NASSP seeks to transform education through school leadership, recognizing that the fulfillment of each student’s potential relies on great leaders in every school committed to the success of each student. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development, NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Student Council. nassp.org
The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), founded in 2001, is the national non- profit association representing the interests of U.S. state and territorial educational technology leadership. SETDA’s mission is to build and increase the capacity of state and national leaders to improve education through technology policy and practice. For more information, please visit www.setda.org.