July 23, 2021

Wyden Co-Sponsors Bicameral Bill to Close Homework Gap, Ensure Students have Reliable Broadband Access

Legislation provides $40 billion over five years to extend the FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund and enable schools and libraries to continue supporting distance learning and connections

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today co-sponsored legislation close the homework gap by ensuring reliable access to broadband for all. The bill builds on the Emergency Connectivity Fund created under the American Rescue Plan and provide schools and libraries with $8 billion a year over five years—for a total of $40 billion—to continue to provide Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and internet-enabled devices to students, staff, and library patrons following the coronavirus pandemic. 

“In this day and age, access to reliable broadband is critical to doing research and completing homework assignments, so students who cannot count on access to the internet risk falling behind, through no fault of their own” Wyden said. “All students, regardless of their zip code or tax bracket, should have reliable internet access, and this legislation would lay the foundation for a reliable bridge to end the digital divide for young Oregonians.”

The legislation continues the lawmakers’ efforts to close the homework gap facing 12 to 17 million students in the United States who do not have internet access at home and support distance learning after the pandemic is over. Even before the current emergency, students without connectivity were at an educational disadvantage because they could not complete homework assignments that required internet access after class. The coronavirus pandemic only made this situation worse as schools shifted to online learning, leaving students without internet access unable to continue their education.

Under the Emergency Educational Connections Act, a part of the American Rescue Plan, Congress provided a one-time, $7.17 billion appropriation to connect students and library patrons struggling to learn at home. The SUCCESS Act will provide crucial additional funding to ensure that the kids who are finally being connected by the Emergency Connectivity Fund are not disconnected once the original funds run dry.

A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.

The bill is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Bob Casey, D-Pa., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Christopher Murphy, D-Conn., and U.S. Representatives Lisa Blunt Rochester, DE, Tony Cárdenas, CA-29, Judy Chu, CA-27, Adriano Espaillat, NY-13, Jesús G. “Chuy” García, IL-04,Raúl Grijalva, AZ-03, Jahana Hayes, CT-05, Sheila Jackson Lee, TX-18, Ro Khanna, CA-17, Barbara Lee, CA-13, Carolyn B. Maloney, NY-12, Betty McCollum, MN-04, Jerrold Nadler, NY-10, Eleanor Holmes Norton, DC, Mark Pocan, WI-02, Ayanna Pressley, MA-07, Bobby Rush, IL-01, Jan Schakowsky, IL-09, Abigail D. Spanberger, VA-07, Thomas R Suozzi, NY-03, Ritchie Torres, NY-15, Nydia M. Velázquez, NY-07, Bonnie Watson Coleman, NJ-12, Peter Welch, VT, and Frederica S. Wilson, FL-24.

Endorsers of the SUCCESS Act include: AASA, the School Superintendents Association, Advance CTE, Alliance for Excellent Education, American Federation of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American Library Association, American Psychological Association, Association for Career and Technical Education, Association of Educational Service Agencies, Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, Association of School Business Officials International, Children’s Health Fund, Common Sense Media, Consortium for School Networking, Council for Exceptional Children, Council of Administrators of Special Education, Council of Chief State School Officers, Education Reform Now, The Education Trust, Family Centered Treatment Foundation, Girls Inc., International Society for Technology in Education, Khan Academy, KIPP, Joint National Committee for Languages, Learning Forward, Magnet Schools of America, MENTOR, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Federally Impacted Schools, National Association of Independent Schools, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of State Directors of Special Education, National Catholic Educational Association, National Center for Families Learning, National Council for Languages and International Studies, National Digital Inclusion Alliance, National Education Association, National Rural Education Advocacy Consortium, National Rural Education Association, National School Boards Association, Parents as Teachers, Project Tomorrow, Public Advocacy for Kids, Schools Health & Libraries Broadband, SHLB,  Coalition, State Educational Technology Directors Association, and Teach for America.