Meng Introduces Legislation to Close the Nation's Homework Gap

Nov 25, 2019
Press Release
Bill would fund the purchase of mobile hotspots to ensure all students have internet access in order to complete assignments at home

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), announced the introduction of the Closing the Homework Gap Through Mobile Hotspots Act, which would create a $100 million grant program for schools, libraries, U.S. territories, and federally recognized Indian Tribes to purchase mobile hotspots to help close the nation’s homework gap. They would use the funds to create mobile hotspot programs for students to have internet access to complete their homework.

As many as 12 million students in the United States lack broadband at home. For these students, completing homework that requires internet access creates an additional barrier to their academic success. Students without the internet at home must find public venues that provide free Wi-Fi, or miss completing the assignment.

Meng’s bill would ensure that students can access the internet through mobile hotspot devices to complete their assignments at home.

“Every child deserves their best chance at pursuing an education. But it breaks my heart knowing that millions of kids, every night, are unable to finish their homework simply because they are without internet access. Before the internet became ubiquitous, students completed their homework with pencil and paper—today, that is no longer case,” said Congresswoman Meng. “We cannot allow this to go on. My bill is simple and does not require investing funds in developing new technologies to close the “homework gap;” instead, it builds on and expands existing infrastructures. Mobile hotspot devices already exist, and with my bill, we can get them to more students who need them. Essentially, students can “check-out” these mobile hotspots from their schools or local libraries – just as they do for books. I encourage all my colleagues in the House to support my bill – and help break down barriers to education.”

“Each night, millions of kids are not able to complete their homework because they lack access to the internet at home,” said Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.“This Homework Gap is the cruelest part of our digital divide. The good news is that technology can help – wireless hotspots can help children get online, do research, learn new ideas, download assignments, and communicate with their teachers—in short, help them succeed. It’s on us to ensure that every child has a fair shot at that success.  Kudos to Congresswoman Meng for her effort to bridge this divide and make sure no child is left offline.”

“We applaud Congresswoman Meng’s commitment to closing the homework gap to ensure all students have the access they need to continue learning and doing homework – especially after the school day ends," said Marc Egan, Director of Government at the National Education Association. "With more than seventy percent of educators assigning school work that requires the Internet, our educators and students experience first-hand the challenges created in teaching and learning. A solution as simple as mobile hotspots for students would go a long way in closing this inequitable homework gap."

“As America’s premier hubs of lifelong learning for all, libraries are uniquely positioned to bridge the digital divide,” said Wanda Brown, President of the American Library Association. “The nation’s more than 120,000 libraries play a vital role in providing access to high-speed internet. Many offer fee-free Wi-Fi 24/7 and parking for users after hours. Many also lend hotspots – but we can’t keep enough of them on our shelves to meet the demand in our communities. The American Library Association couldn’t be more pleased that Rep. Meng and the long list of cosponsors have a plan to fill that need through the Closing the Homework Gap Through Mobile Hotspots Act. More hotspots in our nation’s libraries is the surest way to make progress in achieving digital equity across the country.”

“Home internet access is so essential today that we must have a variety of strategies,” said Angela Siefer, Executive Director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance. “Representative Meng’s bill provides a solution for one of our most vulnerable populations. The mobility of hotspots as the connectivity solution allows students who spend time away from home or with multiple caregivers to always have access to their online homework. NDIA commits to providing implementation guidance when this bill passes in order to ensure maximum impact."