Here’s big news from the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC recently approved a new $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program.
We can hear you now: “What will they spend the money on.”
Here’s what: The geniuses in Washington, DC say the new program will make it possible for America’s schools and libraries to purchase laptops, tablets, and Wi-Fi hotspots, plus broadband connections. This, of course, will be huge for students and teachers across the country.
The program is part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
Additional details of the new program were laid out by cnet.com:
It also follows the FCC approving a plan in February to administer $3.2 billion in emergency relief to subsidize broadband for millions of Americans during the pandemic. That program will provide $50 per month to low-income households and $75 per month to households on Native American lands to cover the cost of broadband services starting May 12. It also provides $100 toward buying a laptop or tablet.
“Between this Emergency Connectivity Fund Program and the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, we are investing more than $10 billion in American students and households,” Jessica Rosenworcel, acting chairwoman of the FCC, said in a statement Monday. “These investments will help more Americans access online education, healthcare and employment resources. They will help close the homework gap for students nationwide.”
Three. Point. Two. Billion. Dollars.
Coronavirus be damned. We cannot even begin to imagine how much this will help America’s students and teachers. It will surely be a tremendous aid in helping our kids catch up after their previous school year was so devastated by the coronavirus. It will help the older kids find jobs. And it will help all of them get better medical care.
According to the FCC, there may be 17 million children across the US who don’t have access to the broadband needed for remote learning. Those children are “disproportionately from communities of color, low-income households, Tribal lands, and rural areas,” the congresspeople behind the legislation — Sens. Edward J. Markey, Maria Cantwell, Chris Van Hollen, Michael Bennet, Maggie Hassan and Congresswoman Grace Meng — said.
“FCC implementation of the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program is an important step towards ensuring the ‘homework gap’ does not grow into a more damaging learning and opportunity gap for our children, particularly those who live in communities of color, low-income households and rural areas,” Sen. Markey said in a statement Monday evening.
We are accustomed to criticizing almost everything the government does, but we have nothing bad to say about this program. Of course, we are assuming that the government can pull this off without screwing it up, which is always a doubtful.
Let’s hope we are wrong.