FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 24, 2021
Contact: Jonathon Dworkin, 202-660-1340 x5
NewDEAL Statement on E-Rate Expansion to Support Remote Learning
CEO Debbie Cox Bultan urges FCC to act urgently to make funds available for students’ home internet access
Washington, D.C. – After submitting comments to the Federal Communications Commission in support of the proposal to expand the E-Rate internet access program for students, NewDEAL CEO Debbie Cox Bultan released the below statement about the importance of the FCC moving swiftly to approve and implement this change while so many schools are conducting classes virtually full or part-time. You can find the full submission from the NewDEAL to the FCC here.
“Even in times of ‘normal’ in-person schooling, students without high-speed internet suffer from a huge disadvantage, and this disadvantage is disproportionately felt among historically marginalized groups,” said Bultan. “These students are now affected not only by their inability to participate in school fully or, in some cases, at all, but also by their families’ lack of access to telehealth appointments and job opportunities. One immediate way to improve the education and quality of life of underserved students is to use the already existing E-Rate program to support them.
“The NewDEAL thanks Acting FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel for her support of expanding E-Rate funds to help students with virtual learning, and we urge the Commission to move urgently to approve this change. After a year of virtual education for so many students we cannot afford to wait to bring all federal, state, and local resources to bear to address the digital divide.”
The NewDEAL’s comments on the FCC proposal build on the work of its sister organization, the NewDEAL Forum, which has recently released a report of state and local education policy recommendations from its Education Policy Group. The document includes a section on ideas for expanding high-speed internet access in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including model examples for getting more students online outside of the school building.