Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Grace Meng (6th District of New York)
Lawmakers call on President to allocate funding following his issuing of emergency declaration; Digital divide acutely impacts low-income students, students of color
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) today sent a letter to President Trump urging him to increase the availability of mobile hotspots during the coronavirus outbreak to help students complete their schoolwork.
In their correspondence, Meng and Booker called on the President to set aside at least $1 billion in emergency declaration funds so that schools and libraries can purchase the hotspots. The President issued an emergency declaration this afternoon.
“As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) begins advising schools to plan for possible interruptions, and as many schools shift toward a virtual classroom, we urge you to take action to protect the educational opportunities for the 12 million American students who live in homes without a broadband connection,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter, noting that low-income students, and students of color would be hardest hit.
March 13, 2020
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Trump:
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) begins advising schools to plan for possible interruptions, and as many schools shift toward a virtual classroom, we urge you to take action to protect the educational opportunities for the 12 million American students who live in homes without a broadband connection.
Now that you have issued an emergency declaration pursuant to the Stafford Act for states preparing for and responding to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, we urge you to set aside at least $1 billion of the $42.6 billion available in the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) for schools and libraries to purchase mobile hotspots, and for the Federal Communications Commission to use its universal service powers, so that all students can continue to learn while we work together to respond to the spread of COVID-19. Given the current circumstances, students without access to broadband risk being left behind, a scenario that could cause irreparable harm to the long-term education of 12 million American children.
Several local school districts across the country have already taken action and provided mobile hotspots to students without broadband access, but not all students live in communities that have the resources to provide for those students. Federal assistance is needed to ensure that the challenges faced by our most vulnerable students are not exacerbated by this crisis. It is critical that your response to the COVID-19 outbreak consider the needs of these students, and we strongly urge you to provide the necessary resources to allow them to continue learning.
The Honorable Betsy Devos, Secretary of Education
The Honorable Ajit Pai, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission