Capito’s new bipartisan bill aims to close the Homework Gap

The Homework Gap, the nation’s new phrase denoting the digital divide between students with and without internet access, would be minimized under a newly introduced bipartisan bill from U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

“While improving broadband accessibility in West Virginia and across rural America has always been a top priority, there’s no question that the coronavirus pandemic has underscored the need to address this challenge now more than ever,” Sen. Capito said. 

The Every Child Connected Act, S. 5021, sponsored on Dec. 15 by Sen. Capito and cosponsor U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to make amendments to the E-rate program, the FCC’s universal service support program that helps schools and libraries obtain affordable broadband.

If enacted, the bill would target available funding sources from Federal Trade Commission data privacy violations to provide connectivity to American students at home, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Capito, who said such redirected funding would “make telecommunication services more affordable for schools and communities.”

“With schools nationwide shifting to digital learning, students and teachers rely heavily on the internet to keep up with their assignments and connect with one another,” said Sen. Capito. “However, the unfortunate reality is that millions of students do not have the same access to these online tools that some of their classmates do, putting them at a significant disadvantage.”

The bill, which also would require the FCC to redefine the term ‘classroom’ to include learning from home, according to the bill summary, has been referred for consideration to the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.