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2020-05-08 Tyler ISD Superintendent Signs Letter of Support for E-Rate Funding

Tyler ISD Superintendent Dr. Marty Crawford recently joined school leadership from across the state to support the need for an additional funding package in response to COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light a serious inequity among today’s students and families who were forced into remote learning when the governor closed school facilities through the end of the school year. That inequity is called the homework gap. According to the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA), experts anticipate that 12 million students across the nation lack adequate internet access needed to support remote learning.

TASA’s national affiliate, American Association of School Administrators or AASA, is asking superintendents to sign a letter of support urging the U.S. Congress to ensure that the next COVID-19 funding package includes $4 billion in direct funds to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Schools and Libraries Program, commonly called the E-Rate program. This week, Dr. Crawford signed this letter of support.

“While the CARES Act includes funding that can be used to address the homework gap, it falls short of what is needed to address internet connectivity issues for students who need to access educational programs while learning remotely,” Dr. Crawford said. “Our hope is that providing a unified voice expressing our support for additional E-Rate funding persuades Congress to address this evolving need amongst our school families.”

Seeing the gap unfold in Tyler ISD has led the District to begin a planning process for addressing the lack of internet accessibility in the event of interruptions to classroom teaching and learning during the upcoming school year. One plan administrators are researching is the creation of WIFI hotspot locations at 35 campuses and facilities across the District. Additionally, it would partner with local organizations to set up 10 to 15 free hotspot locations in neighborhoods with a large population of Tyler ISD students who need internet access.

“We are early in the planning stages of this initiative, but we do know that finding a way to provide equitable internet access for our students and families is a priority we must plan for in the days to come.”