WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 16, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — In advance of the President’s expected announcement later today of a new initiative to expand high-speed broadband access for families across the country, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), the sponsor of legislation that would support innovative ways to improve student access to the Internet at home, released the following statement:
“If our students are going to realize their full potential and compete in today’s digital world, they need to have access to the Internet and other critical learning resources – both inside and outside the classroom,” said Senator King. “Today, too many students are put at a disadvantage when they can’t access these resources after the school day ends. I welcome the President’s initiative as a way to connect more students and their families, and I will continue to push my legislation to help close the homework gap and ensure our students have the tools they need to succeed.”
Despite the serious and demonstrated need for out-of-school access to the Internet and other digital tools, nearly one-third of low-income households with school-age children lack a high-speed Internet connection. This seriously limits access to educational opportunities and new learning tools essential for students to be successful. This divide, known as the homework gap, disproportionately impacts minority students as well as those in rural states like Maine and West Virginia, where high-speed Internet connections are not always accessible or affordable.
In June, Senators King and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the Digital Learning Equity Act, legislation that would help close the homework gap by supporting innovative ways to ensure students stay connected and extend access to digital learning opportunities when they leave the classroom. This bill would create a pilot program that would support states and school districts in piloting creative methods to increase student access to digital learning resources outside of the school day with the goal of increasing student, parent, and educator engagement and improving the ability of students to participate in new learning models, apply for work opportunities, and fill out college applications and financial aid forms. Senator King has offered the Digital Learning Equity Act as two amendments to the Early and Secondary Education Act, which is currently under consideration by the Senate. A one page summary of the bill is available HERE.
The President later today is expected to announce ConnectHome, a new initiative in which the federal government will partner with communities and the private sector to expand high speed broadband to more families throughout America. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is collaborating with EveryoneOn and US Ignite on a pilot program in 27 cities and one tribal nation to help connect 275,000 low-income households to the Internet. Through this program, Internet Service Providers, non-profits, and the private sector will combine to offer broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs, and devices for residents in assisted housing units.