National leaders support doubling request for internet funding

The National School Boards Association along with other education advocacy groups is calling for the United States Congress to provide $4 billion in funding to support better home broadband internet access for public school students during the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. That’s double the amount sought previously to address the “homework gap. The coalition said in an April 29 letter to Senate leaders the funding should be included in the next federal stimulus bill. 

NSBA, KASB and school board associations across the nation have over the past several weeks asked Congress for $2 billion in funding for home broadband internet access for students who are now learning online as a result of virus-mandated school building closures. The request was not fulfilled in the CARES Act stimulus bill enacted in late March that funneled $13.5 billion to K-12 and higher education.  

KASB last week issued a call-to-action asking school board members to contact the Kansas members of Congress to urge them to address the homework gap.  

Numerous states including Kansas have closed school buildings for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. Many expect to continue online learning throughout the summer. School officials nationwide are also beginning to plan for the possibility of depending on virtual learning in the fall should a second wave of infection warrant social distancing or school closures.  

As a result, NSBA and organizations representing the school superintendents association, teachers unions and other advocates now support requesting $4 billion for home broadband internet funding. 

Several U.S. Senators announced Wednesday they are co-sponsoring the Emergency Educational Connections Act of 2020. The bill would provide $4 billion for an Emergency Connectivity Fund to be administered through the Federal Communications Commission’s ERate program that supports internet access for schools and libraries.  

An identical bill introduced previously in the U.S. House of Representatives requested $2 billion for the Emergency Connectivity Fund.  

KASB legislative policy supports access to affordable broadband service for all Kansas students, families and schools. It’s estimated that 70,000 Kansas students don’t have reliable home internet access. 

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