May 5, 2020 - Issue: Vol. 166, No. 84 — Daily Edition116th Congress (2019 - 2020) - 2nd Session
EMERGENCY EDUCATIONAL CONNECTIONS ACT, H.R. 6563; Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 84
(Extensions of Remarks - May 05, 2020)
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[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. ____________________