New bicameral legislation was introduced July 22 by various members of the House and Senate that would provide $40 billion over five years to extend the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Emergency Connectivity Fund that was created under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
The Securing Universal Communications Connectivity to Ensure Students Succeed (SUCCESS) Act was established under the American Rescue Plan Act and provides schools and libraries with $8 billion a year over five years “to continue to provide WiFi hotspots, modems, routers, and internet-enabled devices to students, staff, and library patrons following the coronavirus pandemic.”
The bill, if enacted, would leave $8 billion available for each of the fiscal years 2022 through 2026 to remain available until expended.
“Even after the coronavirus pandemic finally ends, we cannot ignore a key 21st century educational requirement— internet access,” Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass, one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a press release. “The homework gap is an educational inequity that long predates the current emergency, and we need to put the funding in place to ensure no student is forced to sit in a strip mall parking lot, hoping to connect to a local store’s internet in order to finish their homework.”
Along with Sen. Markey, the bill was introduced by Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., along with 15 other senators and 25 other members of the House.
“The pandemic has made it crystal clear that too many students are unable to complete their school assignments because they do not have Internet access at home,” Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said. “This means they fall behind in the classroom— and we all lose out when we have a generation ill-prepared to enter a 21st century economy.”
“Each and every student must have the tools they need to succeed in school, and the SUCCESS Act is an essential component to permanently closing the homework gap,” Rep. Meng said.