Capitol Hill hearing focuses on West Virginia students and others across the U.S. in ‘homework gap’

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The closure of the “homework gap” must be a priority in broadband development in the view of one the commissioners on the Federal Communications Commission.

“For those students in households without broadband, just getting homework done is hard,” said Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel during a Tuesday Capitol Hill event the U.S. Senate Broadband Caucus organized.

She estimated seven in ten teachers across the U.S. are regularly assigning homework that requires internet access at a time when one in three households do not have broadband.

More detailed information is expected in a report, now nine months overdue, on the “homework gap” that was requested under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

“The future belongs to the connected,” Rosenworcel said. “No matter who you are or where you live, you don’t have a fair shot of 21st Century success if you don’t have access to modern communications.”

The Capitol Hill event, “Connecting Out Students: Closing the Digital Divide and the Future of Education,” opened with remarks from U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), one of the caucus co-chairs.

“The latest numbers that have come out have shown that we’ve made steps, but they’re just incremental steps. They’re not big enough and broad enough,” Capito said.

A student and two staff members from Kanawha County’s BridgeValley Community and Technical College participated in the discussion via Skype.

“Mainly outside the Charleston area, broadband is spotty at best,” Jason Stark, chief information officer for BridgeValley, told those in Washington, D.C. “In much of the rural areas, there is not adequate broadband coverage.”

Capito said that is unacceptable.

“Just because we live in rural settings doesn’t mean we should settle for less. We should all be striving for the same levels,” Capito said.

Other participants Tuesday included Dr. Tracy Weeks, executive director of the State Education Technology Director’s Association; Scott Boone, director of information technology for Kent County, Md. Government; Susan Corbett, CEO of Axiom and founder of Maine’s National Digital and A.J. Phillips, director of information technology services for Prince William County, Va. Public Schools.

By:  Shauna Johnson
Source: Metro News