AASA Issues Statement in Reaction to FCC Announcements

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
James Minichello
703-875-0723
703-774-6953 (cell)
jminichello@aasa.org

Alexandria, Va. – May 12, 2021 – Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, issued the following statement today in response to two major announcements this week that are critical to ensuring students and families have internet access outside of school.

“AASA has long supported and championed the E-Rate program for its work to transform and support broadband connectivity in schools. The pandemic upended the typical school day and found millions of students needing to access remote learning from home, which quickly highlighted one of education’s worst-kept secrets, the homework gap. Even before the pandemic, we knew that upwards of 12 million students struggled without (or with inadequate) broadband access at home to complete school assignments. When school shifted to the home, that meant millions of students were left without access to education.
 
“Two actions taken this week by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), under the leadership of Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, will help close the homework gap. On Monday, the FCC announced it was moving forward with implementation of the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program (ECF), which will allow schools and libraries to deploy the more than $7 billion in E-Rate funding that was included in the American Rescue Plan for K-12 distance learning.
 
“And today, the FCC officially opened the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program for enrollment. Whereas the ECF supports schools and libraries, the EBB provides a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households. This represents an excellent complement to the ECF focus on E-Rate and student connectivity in that one way to qualify for EBB is for households to receive benefits under the free/reduced lunch program. Together, EBB and ECF represent strong leadership focused on chipping away at the homework gap.
 
“We thank Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel for her tireless leadership on all things E-Rate and the homework gap, as well as Senators Markey, Cantwell, Van Hollen, Bennet, and Hassan, and Congresswoman Meng for spearheading the Emergency Education Connections Act, the legislation that was incorporated into the American Rescue Plan and made the $7 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund a reality.”

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For specific questions, please contact Noelle Ellerson Ng, AASA associate executive director, advocacy and governance, at nellerson@aasa.org.

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About AASA
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to equitable access for all students to the highest quality public education. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.