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The Daily Dish: President Obama Unveils New “Connect Home” Initiative

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July 16, 2015 02:47 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 U.S. Senate was busy debating and voting Wednesday on key amendments in a last home stretch towards a final vote on the Every Child Achieves Act, the Senate’s proposal to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). One key vote was that on an amendment led by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). The Democrat-sponsored provision attempted to address the accountability for low-graduation-rate high schools, low-performing schools, and schools with low-performing subgroups.

The Washington Post’s Emma Brown notes that while every Democrat voted in favor of the amendment, it failed 54-43. Brown writes opposition of Murphy’s amendment is the result of “Republicans who want to rein in the federal government’s influence over education, which they say ballooned under the Bush and Obama administrations.”

Despite its rejection, Murphy’s bill garnered broad support from organizations including the Alliance for Excellent Education. Before the vote, Ranking Member (Patty) Murray (D-WA) urged senators to vote in favor of the amendment saying, “…Our nation’s schools are only as strong as their ability to educate every child. And we can’t afford the cost of failure. If students get stuck without the tools they need to succeed today, our future workforce and our economy will suffer the consequences.  When every child gets the chance to learn, it will pay off for generations to come.”

Senate also voted Wednesday to invoke cloture on the ECAA proceedings. Rachel Bird Niebling, senior policy and advocacy associate at the Alliance explained in the latest edition of Federal Flash, cloture limits debate on the bill, requiring a final vote within 30 hours once invoked. “As part of the agreement to invoke cloture there will be about 20 votes today and final passage is expected this evening,” said Bird Niebling.

The White House was also busy with education Wednesday. President Barack Obama announced during a visit to Oklahoma his new Connect Home initiative. The plan is aimed at closing the Homework Gap low-income and rural students face and provide Internet access to families regardless of income.

“If we don’t get these young people the access to what they need to achieve their potential, then it’s our loss; it’s not just their loss,” Obama said to an audience at Durant High School in Durant, Oklahoma. “They’ve got big dreams. We’ve got to have an interest in making sure they can achieve those dreams.”

A fact sheet from the White House stated: “The pilot program is launching in twenty-seven cities and one tribal nation and will initially reach over 275,000 low-income households – and nearly 200,000 children – with the support they need to access the Internet at home. Internet Service Providers, non-profits and the private sector will offer broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs, and devices for residents in assisted housing units.”

The Connect Home initiative comes just weeks after the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) plans to restructure its Lifeline program to offer low-income families affordable access to quality broadband.  FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said the restructure has the potential to “expand opportunity for too many among us who for too long have been consigned to the wrong side of the digital divide.”

Dionne Searcey and Peter Baker of The New York Times note that the announcement came in conjunction with the release of an analysis from the White House Council of Economic Advisers that “highlights how some Americans, especially low-income families with children, do not benefit from broadband service, despite the rapid increase in Internet use in America in recent years.”

For more on Wednesday Senate debate of the Every Child Achieves Act and what to expect from today’s vote, check out the Alliance’s special edition of Federal Flash:


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