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Rep. Bass Calls For Increased Funding to Support Distance Learning

April 20, 2020
Press Release
WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) joined Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) along with 47 of her colleagues in sending a letter to House leadership calling for additional funding to help students and teachers adapt to distance, virtual, and online learning during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“As the public health crisis continues to worsen, a growing number of states and cities across the country are issuing stay-at-home orders and closing schools,” wrote the Members in their letter. “To ensure equal learning opportunities during the pandemic, schools are increasingly adopting distance learning strategies to bring the classroom into students’ homes.  However, this can prove challenging for many high poverty urban and rural school districts that may lack the resources to connect disadvantaged students to digital devices or high-speed internet.”

The Members pointed to Cleveland Metropolitan School District, where 30 to 40 percent of students do not have reliable access to internet, as a stark example of the obstacles disadvantaged students face when transitioning to online learning.   Likewise, even students who have access to the necessary technology in their homes often are forced to share it with their siblings or parents.

“The CARES Act Education Stabilization Fund helps to address daily issues local education agencies face during the pandemic,” wrote the Members.  “However, additional emergency relief funding through increases to existing programs, such as the Title I-A program under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Federal Communication Commission’s E-Rate Program, are needed to support high poverty schools and school districts to expand access to distance learning.”

To “help ensure continued success outside the traditional classroom during this pandemic and beyond,” the letter also requested funding “for teachers to be trained, supported and certified in distance teaching.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.