[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E425]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




            EMERGENCY EDUCATIONAL CONNECTIONS ACT, H.R. 6563

                                 ______
                                 

                            HON. GRACE MENG

                              of new york

                    in the house of representatives

                          Tuesday, May 5, 2020

  Ms. MENG. Madam Speaker, I rise in the midst of a global health 
emergency that has re-calibrated each of our lives, including for over 
55 million students across the country who are now forced into remote 
learning. To help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-
19), over 124,000 public and private schools have closed across the 
country--many for the remainder of the academic year. These actions 
have laid bare to the American people the critical role internet access 
plays in our society.
  Before the pandemic struck, there were nearly 12 million students who 
were part of the so-called ``homework gap''--meaning they lacked 
internet access at home to complete their homework. This is a problem 
because as many as 7 in 10 teachers assign homework that requires 
internet access. To keep up with their connected peers, homework gap 
students had to travel to a library or other public places to use its 
free Wi-Fi--or risk not completing their homework and falling further 
behind academically.
  Fast forward to now, with millions of people sheltering at home, 
students are participating in remote learning that includes class 
meetings, explanations of new content, virtual field trips, homework, 
and learning exercises. As such, for those students without internet, 
this gap seems more like a chasm. Students without internet service 
will fall further behind as students with internet service at home can 
continue advancing in their studies. Whether they live in urban 
centers, suburbs, or exurbs, or small communities in rural America, all 
students require internet connectivity to succeed during this pandemic.
  That is why I introduced the Emergency Educational Connections Act, 
H.R. 6563 which would provide $2 billion to the FCC's E-Rate program to 
ensure students can continue their studies from the safety and comfort 
of their homes. Through this program, the FCC can distribute funds to 
schools and libraries, including Tribal schools and libraries, 
relatively quickly. We do not have to reinvent any processes to help 
students.
  Madam Speaker, it is imperative that the Emergency Educational 
Connections Act, H.R. 6563 be included in the next coronavirus relief 
package to ensure no child loses out on an education because they lack 
internet access at home. I urge all my colleagues to support it and see 
it signed into law. We must finally see an end to the digital divide.

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