Browse all articles

Keeping Kids Connected at Home and at School

As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of E-rate, the FCC considers crippling a program that connects kids at home.

The holidays have wound down, and America's kids have gone back to school. E-rate, a federal program that helps fund high-speed Internet connections in schools and libraries, is 20 years old this January, and there's a lot for parents to celebrate: Thanks in part to E-rate, 39 million kids are now connected to high-speed broadband at school.

However, for kids to succeed today, they need high-speed access at school and at home. Despite the success of E-rate in connecting schools, many homes remain disconnected. Indeed, although 70 percent of teachers assign online homework, Common Sense's research indicates that one in four lower-income families with young kids lacks reliable broadband access. The Lifeline program, which was recently modernized to include support for broadband, is helping to close this "homework gap" by enabling more families to afford high-speed internet. But now, a new proposal would put this program in jeopardy. The proposal introduced by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai would imperil Lifeline's efforts to expand broadband access. By barring a large percentage of broadband sellers from the market and imposing a hard budget cap, this new plan would leave many families who need internet access without it.

Take action

Over the last few years, both E-rate and Lifeline have connected millions of kids, and we should not turn back the clock on this progress. Today, as we celebrate E-rate's legacy, we will also file comments opposing the FCC's Lifeline plan. Please tell your member of Congress to publicly oppose the FCC's Lifeline plan and ask Chairman Pai to reconsider this move that would widen the digital divide.

Kelsey Kober
Policy Associate