Colorado AG leads push to use federal internet discounts to help students get online at home — not just at school – By Tamara Chuang (Colorado Sun) / Feb 23 2021
The E-rate effort comes nearly five years after the Boulder Valley School District first petitioned the Federal Communications Commission for the exact same thing to close the homework gap
Nearly five years after the Boulder Valley School District asked the Federal Communications Commission to let it use federal funds to help students on the wrong side of the digital divide, the district finally got a response — in a roundabout way.
The FCC wanted to hear more, though it asked for comments in response to a similar petition filed by the Colorado Attorney General’s office.
The Boulder Valley district wanted to fix the “homework gap” faced by students who spend the day at school and then head home to no broadband service. In 2013, the district began sharing its internet with a local neighborhood that had none. But because the internet was partially funded by the federal E-Rate program, the FCC said it violated a rule because E-rate-funds could only be used on school campuses. In May 2016, the district asked the FCC to waive the E-Rate rule preventing funds from subsidizing the internet at students’ homes. The FCC never ruled on it.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Phil Weiser urged the FCC to consider his separate petition to address the divide that became more evident when students were sent home during the coronavirus pandemic. Weiser is leading the effort with Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson. Weiser has the support of 29 AGs in other states, Washington, D.C., and Guam. The FCC, in seeking comments to Weiser’s petition, noted that Colorado’s request was one of 11 asking permission for E-Rate funds to be used for remote learning.