FCC Announces Emergency Connectivity Fund Application Window Will Open on June 29

FCC logo

Schools and Libraries Will Have 45 Days to Apply for Support to Aid Students Who Fall into the Homework Gap

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2021—Today, FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced schools and libraries can begin to file applications on June 29 for the newly established $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund. Schools and libraries can apply for financial support to purchase laptops and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connections for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons. During this 45-day application filing window, which will run from June 29 to August 13, eligible schools and libraries can submit requests for funding to purchase eligible equipment and services for the 2021-22 school year.

“For too long, the Homework Gap has been a troubling and persistent digital equity problem in the United States,” said Rosenworcel. “With classes themselves moving online and the pandemic requiring us to stay home, we went from having millions of children who couldn’t do online homework assignments to having millions of children who couldn’t do schoolwork at all. In other words, the Homework Gap became a full-fledged learning and education gap.”
“It’s important that we address this issue now, and the Emergency Connectivity Fund gives us the opportunity to do that. As we exit this pandemic, we know that education has been changed. Like so much else in our lives, it has been digitized. That’s why I’m proud that starting in two weeks, schools and libraries across the country will have a terrific opportunity to get broadband service and devices into the hands of students, staff, and library patrons who lack them to connect these learners at home,” said Rosenworcel.

The American Rescue Plan of 2021 established the Emergency Connectivity Fund. The Universal Service Administrative Company will serve as the program’s administrator with FCC oversight. The Fund leverages the processes and structures used in the E-Rate program for the benefit of schools and libraries already familiar with the E-Rate program. You can find more information about the program at www.emergencyconnectivityfund.org or www.fcc.gov/emergency-connectivity-fund and instructions on how to apply at www.emergencyconnectivityfund.org/application-process.

Recent estimates suggest there may be as many as 17 million children struggling without the broadband access they need for remote learning. Since her early tenure at the Commission, the Acting Chairwoman has made closing the Homework Gap a priority.

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Senators Murray (WA) Portman (OH) to Reintroduce The Digital Equity Act 2021

Closing the digital divide has always been an urgent priority, but COVID-19 has shone a harsh light on existing inequities, further demonstrating the need for legislation like the Digital Equity Act.

Digital equity is about ensuring everyone – no matter where they live – can fully participate in our society, democracy, and economy.

In a world where digital skills and digital access are needed to get an education, invest in skills training, apply for jobs, access unemployment benefits, and more – digital equity is absolutely essential.

The Digital Equity Act is bipartisan. That’s because every state and every community stands to benefit from an investment in digital equity – red or blue, rural or urban.

Background on the Digital Equity Act and the Path Forward
Senator Murray first introduced the Digital Equity Act in 2019 to help improve broadband adoption and bridge the digital divide. During the 2020 election, this bill was included in then-candidate Biden’s broadband platform. Earlier this year, President Biden also unveiled his American Jobs Plan, which includes a $100 billion investment to build high-speed broadband infrastructure to reach 100 percent coverage, promote transparency and competition, reduce the cost of broadband internet service and promote more widespread adoption. Senators Murray and Portman will be advocating for key provisions of the bipartisan Digital Equity Act to be included in any forthcoming infrastructure package.

Digital Equity Act of 2021
The Digital Equity Act of 2021 strengthens federal support for efforts to help ensure students, families, and workers have the information technology capacity needed to fully participate in society by establishing two grant programs to be administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to promote digital equity nationwide:
* Building Capacity within States through Formula Grants: The legislation creates an annual $125 million formula grant program for all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to fund the creation and implementation of comprehensive digital equity plans in each State.
* Spurring Targeted Action through Competitive Grants: The legislation also creates an annual $125 million competitive grant program to support digital equity projects undertaken by individual groups, coalitions, and/or communities of interest.
* Supporting Research and Evidence-Based Policymaking: The legislation tasks NTIA with evaluating digital inclusion projects and providing policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels with detailed information about which projects are most effective.

Quick Stats
* According to the Pew Research Center, before the pandemic nearly one in five teenagers in the U.S. said they had been unable to complete homework assignments due to lack of a reliable internet connection. The digital divide, also sometimes referred to as the “homework gap” as it applies to students, exacerbates existing wealth and income gaps in our communities; subsequently, many people-including those from communities of color, people with disabilities, low-income households, and rural communities, overwhelmingly impacted by the digital skills gap-are at risk of being left behind in an increasingly technology-driven world, absent intervention.
* According to a 2019 report from Pew Research Center, 58% of Black adults and 57% of Hispanic adults have a laptop or desktop computer, compared with 82% of white adults, and 66% of Black adults and 61% of Hispanic adults have broadband access at home compared with 79% of white adults.
* Currently, 35% of rural Americans lack high-speed broadband access, and there are approximately 30 million rural Americans with no internet access.

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Public Comment Wanted:  Title II-A and Title IV-A 2019-2020 Tydings Waivers

Public Comment Survey Open:  Title II-A and Title IV-A 2019-2020 Tydings Waivers

This New Hampshire Department of Education (NHDOE) announcement serves as notice to the public, school districts, and the Federal Office of Elementary and Secondary Education Title II-A and Title IV-A Programs for an opportunity to comment on the NHDOE’s plan to pursue a waiver of the Tydings Amendment, Section 421(b) of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1225(b)), and extend the period of availability for 2019-2020 Title II-A and IV-A funds by one (1) year. Acceptance of these waivers by the Secretary of Education would permit continued use of 2019-2020 Title II-A and IV-A funds through September 30, 2022. Without a waiver, these funds would expire on September 30, 2021.  All other requirements for 2019-2020 Title II-A and IV-A programs will continue to apply.

Please take a minute to leave a public comment regarding the waiver at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSezGGn2IKVe-njOlfbKYcf5kHpgegOQ3NY8J5AngvNkTG_v7g/viewform

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Parents, Educators and Community Members Asked to Share COVID Perspectives

Department of Education launches COVID survey, building on last spring survey that generated over 56,000 responses

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Education is proud to announce the 603 Bright Futures Survey, giving parents, educators and community members a chance to share their perspectives on the response by New Hampshire schools to the COVID-19 pandemic this past year and how the experience should influence instructional as plans are made for fall learning. Last spring, a Department survey of remote instruction and the return to school generated more than 56,000 responses, helping to shape the state’s K-12 Back to School Guidance.

“The survey we conducted last year at this time generated a tremendous amount of valuable information, helping shape our return to school across the state,” said Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut. “The 603 Bright Futures Survey will provide valuable feedback – what worked and what did not work – and provide valuable information for schools that are already crafting plans for fall instructional programs.”

The survey includes an opportunity for anyone interested – parent, educator or community member – to provide feedback. The Department will open survey on June 1, 2021 and it will remain available through June 30, 2021 to allow everyone the opportunity to respond. Parents responding for more than one child should complete the survey once for each student. Once the survey closes, the results will be made available through the Department’s website.

Survey Links: Distribution of survey links has been greatly simplified from previous years. Please share the links below. From there, respondents will be able to choose their school from a dropdown menu:
• Families in K-12, Preschool, and Private Schools: bit.ly/nhdoefamily
• Staff in Public and Private Schools: bit.ly/nhdoestaff
• Community Members: bit.ly/nhdoecommunity

*Please note that “Community Members” are those who do not have students enrolled in New Hampshire public schools. Those who do should complete the family surveys instead.

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Learn About and Participate in Framing the Evidence – A SETDA program

The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) launched the Framing the Evidence program in 2019 to help schools better gauge the effectiveness of technology used for teaching and learning. Due to COVID, many schools shifted to remote and hybrid learning strategies so that students could continue learning outside of the school building, and even beyond the traditional school day. The Framing the Evidence program is more timely than ever, given the Department of Education’s American Rescue Plan funding totaling $122 billion to help reopen schools in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

To support schools and districts in making deliberate and informed decisions when buying educational technology, we invite schools and districts to participate in pilots set up through the Framing the Evidence program, which should help them assess the impact of technology in addressing instructional and learning challenges, whether remote, in-person, or hybrid.

The Framing the Evidence Program serves the needs of LEAs, SEAs, and EdTech providers by catalyzing and scaling evidence-based trials. SETDA is uniquely positioned to undertake this work as a means of democratizing the pilot process for schools across the nation and in every type of demographic setting.

The program will provide research that will inform the field of educational technology by: a.) providing opportunities to increase the appropriate use of technology for teaching and learning and b.) identifying and sharing evidence and promising practices in K-12 digital learning.

This initiative allows districts to take advantage of free technology pilot opportunities with SETDA’s vetted partners, providing access to high-quality educational technology solutions as part of efficacy studies tailored to your district needs. There is NO COST to districts to participate in the program.

To learn more, we encourage you to visit the Framing the Evidence page on SETDA’s Website: https://www.setda.org/priorities/professional-learning/evidence-based/framing-the-evidence-program/

We suggest that you fill out SETDA’s Google Form to share your current district needs. There is no obligation to participate in any pilots due to filling out this form. 

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Christa McAuliffe Transforming Teaching Technology Conference – Onsite and Online!

This year’s McAuliffe Conference will be a hybrid model offering both onsite and online options.  You can participate in either one, or both, if you like!

Information on presenting can be found on the website Present tab.  Check out the  Call for Presenters Brochure.

Information on exhibiting at the conference can be found on the Exhibit tab. A variety of options are available. Check out the Call for Solution Partners Brochure.

Learn more at www.NHCMTC.org.

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Use the Speak Up surveys to learn about the views of your stakeholders now

You can use the Speak Up surveys for your end-of-year data collection to understand how your students feel about virtual learning, what your teachers need for PD, and what your parents say are their biggest worries about their child’s future (and more!).

Look at the SpeakUp Survey questions here to see how this critical information can inform your plans.
Reminders about Speak Up:
• Speak Up survey questions developed to provide you with valid data that you can trust
• Surveys available for different audiences – you choose whatever audience you want to poll
o K-12 students (in English and Spanish!)
o Teachers
o Parents (in English and Spanish!)
o School Site Administrators
o District Administrators
o Technology Leaders

• Lessons plans available for teachers to use with the student surveys
• Promotional materials provided by Project Tomorrow to help you with outreach
• We will provide you with 100% of your locally collected data with comparative state and national data
• There is no cost to participate in Speak Up or to receive the data reports
• Surveys are open for your use until August 15

Contact Pilar Comparan to get started today with your Speak Up surveys!

Register Your School or District now!

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Nominate NH Teachers to Participate in Ed Games Expo Panel

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology (OET) is seeking K-12 teachers to share their experiences with remote learning on a virtual panel as part of the 2021 ED Games Expo.

Candidates should represent the diversity of America’s teachers in terms of their: (1) identities, (2) geographic location, (3) grade level and subject taught, and (4) technical expertise. This event is meant to elevate the real experiences of U.S. teachers from the past year, not simply spotlight those who were best positioned to engage in remote learning.

Please feel free to identify and nominate qualified teachers as possible panelists. OET will select roughly five teachers from the nominations received to ensure that the panel is representative of the range of experiences and identities of teachers across the nation.

OET hopes to have panelists identified no later than Wednesday May 5th to ensure plenty of time to prepare panelists, record, edit, and finalize the event before it’s launch on June 2nd.

The event will be pre-recorded over the coming weeks, and is set to go live to a national audience on Wednesday, June 2 at 8:00pm. OET seeks to recruit panelists that represent the diversity of U.S. teachers and their experiences over the past year. If you have teachers in mind, please forward their contact information as well as a brief description of the subject(s) and grade level(s) they teach, as well as the school or school district in which they work, to Michael Ham in OET at Michael.Ham@ed.gov.

Let’s get one of our New Hampshire Educators some recognition. Please consider nominating a teacher to be part of this panel.

Learn more –>

ED Games Expo 2021

US Office of Educational Technology

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Share Your Views for National Research Study on Digital Learning

Dear Education Leader: 

I am inviting you today to share your insights and views for a national research study conducted by Project Tomorrow, the education nonprofit organization that facilitates the annual Speak Up Research Project on digital learning.  The focus of this new study to understand how K-12 school districts are paying for digital learning devices (tablets, laptops, Chromebooks) for their students, teachers and staff.  With the sudden shift to remote learning caused by COVID-19, school district funding of 1:1 devices for their students jumped 77%.  That tremendous increase has resulted in a significant new focus on district investment strategies for both the long and short term.  And new discussions, both locally and nationally, about how to sustain those investments so that all K-12 stakeholders have the best technology in their hands to support teaching and learning. 

To share your ideas and views on this topic, please complete this short, 12-14 minute survey here http://bit.ly/K-12DigitalDIStrategiesSurvey  so that we can better understand how education leaders such as yourself are thinking about this critical and timely topic.  In recognition of the effort, we will be selecting 20 education leaders nationwide to receive a $50 Amazon gift card from Project Tomorrow.  If you would like to be eligible to be selected for that gift card, please share with us your email address in the last question of the survey.  If not, you can simply skip that last question.  Your email address will only be used for this selection process and will not be shared with anyone or any organization outside of Project Tomorrow.  Your survey responses are totally protected. We will be reviewing only the aggregated national data.

The aggregated national data will be used to inform a new report that we hope to release this spring.  It is our goal that this report will inform policies and programs to support K-12 education funding, and bring greater attention to the need to develop more sustainable models for funding digital learning devices in K-12.  Thank you for your contributions to this new national research study.  Your input is important here.    

In case you are not familiar with Project Tomorrow, we are a nationally recognized, 501.c.3 education nonprofit organization with a 25-year legacy of supporting innovation in K-12 education through school programs and research.  Each year, Project Tomorrow facilitates the annual Speak Up Research Project to collect and report on the authentic feedback of K-12 students, parents and educators on trends in digital learning.  In addition to the Speak Up Project, we also each year design and implement research studies on other key topics in education.  Many of our study reports are here.  Please feel free to access these reports to inform your own work as well.       

If you have any questions about this research study or the survey, please contact me directly.  My contact information is below.

Thank you for your leadership during this challenging time in our country and in K-12 education.  And thank you for sharing your ideas and views with us for this new research study.   

Julie A. Evans, Ed.D.
Chief Executive Officer, Project Tomorrow

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Public Comment sought on Refresh of Digital Literacy Standards (Ed 306.42)

Last year, a committee worked on drafting possible language for an update of our current ICT Literacy Standards, which were last adopted in 2005. These program standards are in need of refresh for several reasons.

  1. They are old, last updated in 2005, and need new a refreshed focus which parallel the ISTE Standards for Students.
  2. The legislature changed the name of ICT Literacy to Digital Literacy when they also added Computer Science as a content area in 193-E:2-a (j).
  3. Some of the stuff in the old standards really now should belong in the computer science program standards, Ed 306.44, which are also currently under development. This updated draft removes overlapped material and adds previously lacking, but more relevant, language around information evaluation, cybersecurity, and digital citizenship.

You can see the updated version of the standards, in markup for comparison to the 2005 version here, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jdS7htCPTV7Y6Losqec57Yxvo0VRyJ5ueNE3XW3ckD8/view.

Please use this form to provide your public comment on this draft version of Ed 306.42: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe5ho0J9_N89_EPBsMqJbBx5LHzg1creRd1rwH4e3dnshK9JQ/viewform.

Once the public has had time to comment. The committee will use the comments to make any final changes to the draft. The final draft will be submitted to the Professional Standards Board for consideration. The Professional Standards Board would then have the opportunity to make any changes before recommending them to the State Board of Education for adoption.

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