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May 23, 2024

Rep. Schiff Introduces Bill to Expand WiFi on School Buses, Make Eligible for E-Rate Funding

Washington, D.C.— Today, Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) introduced the Clarifying E-Rate Act of 2024, which would expand Wi-Fi access to school buses by making them permanently eligible for E-Rate funding, a program that provides discounts to schools and libraries for affordable telecommunications and internet access. This initiative follows a declaratory ruling from the Federal Communications Commission, confirming that Wi-Fi on school buses qualifies for E-Rate funding.

“For many students, the time they spend on a school bus is more than just a commute– it’s a crucial time for learning and completing homework, especially those with long commutes. My legislation would expand Wi-Fi to school buses so we can level the playing field for all our kids, particularly those in rural and underserved communities. I’ll continue working to ensure that our students have all the tools needed to succeed,” said Rep. Schiff.

“All students — no matter where they're from, where they live, or what they look like — deserve access to the tools and resources that will help them be successful in school and life. We know that access to the internet is essential for learning, and this bill will help to expand that access for students. The National Education Association applauds Representative Schiff for his efforts to expand internet access to our nation’s students and assist the FCC in carrying out this critical work,” said Becky Pringle, President, National Education Association.

“Learning does not stop when students head home from school, which is why we are proud to support Rep. Schiff’s Clarifying E-Rate Act of 2024. In these changing times, we need to ensure all students have equitable access to technology resources wherever they participate in off-campus learning, whether through home broadband access, a public library, or studying on the school bus. Let's keep this work going and eliminate the ‘Homework Gap’ once and for all,” said Alberto M Carvalho, Superintendent, LAUSD.

“In today's digitally-driven world, internet is a critical tool for students, helping to advance academic success and future prospects. It is therefore imperative to extend access to every student, ensuring that no child is left behind. Congressman Schiff’s bill is an important step in establishing equitable internet access and equipping students with the tools they need to thrive,” said Chris Lopez, Board Chair of the Rural County Representatives of California.

“The pandemic proved that it is virtually impossible for students to succeed without access to reliable connectivity. We commend the FCC for recently ruling that Wi-Fi on school buses is now eligible for E-Rate funding to ensure that students who have long bus rides or may not have Wi-Fi at home can remain connected,” said Ishan Mehta, Media and Democracy Program Director at Common Cause. "We thank Congressman Schiff for introducing the Clarifying E-Rate Act to ensure that future FCC commissioners continue to prioritize connectivity on school buses so all students can thrive in this digital world."

The Clarifying E-Rate Act of 2024 is supported by the National Education Association, Common Cause, American Association for Public Broadband, Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC), United Way Worldwide, and Los Angeles Unified School District.

Schiff’s bill is cosponsored by Representatives Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), James McGovern (D-Mass.), Robert Garcia (D-Calif.), Melanie Stansbury (D- N.M.) and Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.).

To read the full bill text, click here.