Emergency Connectivity Fund’s Launch “Shows The Power Of The Voices Of Educators Advocating For Our Students”
WASHINGTON - The National Education Association today applauds the Federal Communications Commission for launching the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program, a $7.17 billion effort to help schools across our nation to provide students with the internet and the technology needed to participate in virtual learning.
“As educators, we believe our students can thrive, no matter what they look like or where they come from. But, for too many students – particularly Black, Brown and Indigenous students, as well as students from rural communities – the door to the virtual classroom has been blocked because they lacked access to internet and the technology needed to participate in virtual learning. The FCC’s action shows today the power of the voices of educators advocating for our students,” said NEA President Becky Pringle.
“In today’s world, access to the internet is essential for learning. It is critical for conducting research, doing homework, and, when school buildings are closed, attending class. This was true before the COVID-19, and is even more important now coming out of this pandemic.
“That is why, educators celebrated the fact that Congress passed funding in the American Rescue Plan to address the homework gap, championed by Sen. Edward Markey and Rep. Grace Meng. And today, we applaud Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and the Federal Communications Commission for launching the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program, which uses the American Rescue Plan funds to help ensure no students are left without the internet, laptops, or tablets needed for their education.”
In February 2020, NEA established the Homework Gap Coalition with more than 60 organizations focused on ensuring no student was left offline during the pandemic, and advocated for Congress and the FCC to close the homework gap by passing the funding included in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and the framework the FCC adopted.
In October 2020, NEA released Digital Equity for Students and Educators, a report exploring the digital divide for school-aged (5-17 years old) children, which reveals that an estimated one-quarter of those children don’t have what they need for online learning during the pandemic.
Specifically, the report found:
- An estimated one-quarter of all school-aged children (ages 5-17) live in households without broadband access or a web-enabled device such as a computer or tablet.
- This inequality systematically tracks across historic divisions of race, socioeconomic status and geography.
- School-aged children in households that are below the federal poverty threshold are much less likely (53 percent) than those above the poverty line (79 percent) to have access to both broadband and a computer.
- White school-aged children (80 percent) have better access than African American/Black (64 percent) or Hispanic/Latinx (66 percent) children.
- Just 50 percent of Native American children have full access.
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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, students preparing to become teachers, healthcare workers, and public employees. Learn more at www.nea.org.