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TASA’s national affiliate, AASA, is requesting signatures of support from superintendents in Texas and throughout the U.S. to urge Congress to ensure that the next COVID-19 funding package includes $4 billion in direct funds to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Schools and Libraries Program, commonly called the E-Rate program. If you agree, we encourage you to sign on to AASA’s letter to Congress ASAP by adding your name, position, and district to AASA electronic submission form. Details below.

E-Rate Call to Action

As the nation’s public schools continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the related economic downturn, one of the enduring needs and conversations relates to the homework gap, or the reality that far too many of our students lack the internet access necessary to access and participate in remote learning.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a bright light on one of the worst kept secret inequities for today’s students: the homework gap. The pandemic forced more than 55 million students into a remote learning reality, resulting in an almost immediate struggle to ensure students can access online learning. It is anticipated that 12 million students across the nation lack internet access adequate to support online learning.

AASA has drafted a letter, to be sent to all members of Congress, urging them to take immediate action to support all students displaced from their classrooms. Congress must ensure the next COVID-19 funding package include $4 billion in direct funds to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Schools and Libraries Program, commonly called the E-Rate program, to help connect millions of students to the internet so they can continue their education and planning for the possibility of interruptions to classroom teaching and learning during the 2020-2021 school year.

Our state superintendent association is pleased to share this letter and call to action with you, and to encourage you to sign it, on behalf of your district. As part of the AASA advocacy strategy, this letter will be one piece in a broader day of action related to raising awareness about related legislative proposals, with the collective aim of putting enough pressure on Congress to ensure that the next round of COVID-19 emergency relief not only include funding for educational technology, but that the funding flow through the E-Rate program.

You’ll recall that while the CARES Act does include funding that can be used to address the homework gap, it is part of a larger pot of funding with a long list of allowable uses. The dollar amount of the overall pot comes nowhere near addressing the full set of needs it is designed to address (including connectivity) and it unnecessarily complicates the process by which schools could use it to access education technology because it would require a new bureaucratic program to drive the dollars to schools for an education technology use, instead of using the already established and well-proven E-Rate program.

In response to this mis-step, several members in both the House and Senate have introduced legislation to address this very issue and to call on their peers to support the need of dedicated funding for the E-Rate program. AASA supports both of these proposals, companion bills introduced by Rep Meng (D-NY) and Sen Markey (D-MA). The letter we are asking you to sign ties all of these efforts together by providing a unified voice for school superintendents across the nation to express their support for inclusion of funding through the E-Rate program in the next COVID package. You can review and sign the letter here.