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Sen. Van Hollen Introduces Homework Gap Bill

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has introduced the Homework Gap Trust Fund Act, which would tap into C-Band auction money

Sen. Chris Van Hollen

Sen. Chris Van Hollen

The goal of the bill is to ensure that all children have access to the home. 

In introducing the legislation, Van Hollen pointed to a Senate Joint Economic Committee finding that as many as 12 million students don't have internet access at home while 70% of teachers assign homework that requires access. 

Related: Teachers Say Homework Gap Remains 

That gap has prompted anecdotal stories about parents driving their kids to McDonald's or Starbucks, or kids sitting in school parking lots or on the library steps to do their homework.  

The bill would direct revenue from the C-Band midband auction--scheduled to begin next February--to a fund to pay for "priorities that will help close the digital divide." 

Some legislators on both sides of the aisle have been keen to direct C-Band auction funds--the FCC is freeing up more spectrum for 5G--to closing that divide, rather than compensating incumbent foreign-owned satellite operators

“Every child deserves the opportunity to succeed. But without internet access at home, many students face significant barriers in completing their schoolwork," Van Hollen said in introducing the legislation. 

Democratic FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who has made closing that homework gap a signature issue, praised the bill. "We need to fix this problem and make sure that when it comes to nightly schoolwork, no child is left offline," she said. "So kudos to Senator Van Hollen for this bill, which would capitalize on funds raised by an upcoming FCC spectrum auction to provide solutions to connect kids everywhere to digital opportunity." 

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.