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The Daily Dish: Closing the ‘Homework Gap’ For Low-Income Students

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June 19, 2015 03:13 pm


The Daily Dish digs deeper into one of the day’s top news stories on K–12 education. Make sure to add High School Soup to your RSS feed for all the latest updates and follow the Alliance on Twitter at @All4Ed for more education news.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took steps to help more low income Americans receive access to high-speed internet on Thursday voting 3-2 to restructure its Lifeline program. Lifeline, a $1.8 billion program was established in 1985 to allow more low-income families access to affordable phone service, but as a press release on the FCC’s website asserts: “30 years after Lifeline was founded, the Commission has concluded it is time for a fundamental, comprehensive restructuring of the program to meet today’s most pressing communications needs: access to broadband.”

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel extended her support of the restructure in a statement on the FCC’s website, expressing that the changes – if done correctly – will “expand opportunity for too many among us who for too long have been consigned to the wrong side of the digital divide.” Specifically, Rosenworcel writes that this new way to bring internet access into homes will help to combat the “Homework Gap” that exists for students from low income backgrounds.

The Hechinger Report’s Nichole Dobo takes a closer look at the impact the reform could have on the homework gap for schools. Dobo writes that “many schools are competing for funding to update their own digital problems, such as antiquated Internet connections, and this makes it more difficult to find the money and time to address at-home connections,” adding  that the FCC’s vote to modernize E-rate does not address at-home connectivity.

Still, E-rate funding applications for schools and libraries have reached $3.9 billion for 2015-16 school year, which FCC Chairman Wheeler said will ensure the reform has its intended impact.

As for the discrepancies in at-home internet access, Dobo’s article points to ways both state and federal leaders are working to correct. Namely, the new legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Shelley Capito (R-WV).

On Thursday, the two Senators proposed The Digital Learning Equity Act of 2015. According a press release from Sen. King, “the legislation aims to support innovative ways to improve student access to the internet and other digital learning resources outside of the classroom. “

Rosenworcel also lent her support to this proposal, saying in a statement on the FCC’s website. She calls the homework gap the “cruelest part of the new digital divide,” and gives kudos to Senators King and Capito for introduction a potential solution.

Achievement Gap, E-Rate, Federal Communications Commission, The Daily Dish Blog

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