Standing in front of a portrait of the family, Congressman Tony Cardenas and LAUSD Supt. Alberto Carvalho visited Cardenas Elementary School in Van Nuys, named after Cardenas’ parents, on Tuesday, May 30, 2023, when he visited the school to give a press conference on the Emergency Communications Fund. with distance learning. ECF continues to help students with essential internet access and computers they need for class and homework. (Photo by Sarah Ringwirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)
At 1 p.m. Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas boarded a flight to Washington, D.C., for a crucial vote on the debt ceiling, but first he had an important stop to make at Cárdenas Elementary School in Van Nuys.
Tuesday morning’s visit gave Cárdenas a chance to see the thriving Latino community of the school named in honor of his parents, and to see the impact of federal technology funding at the schools he has argued for — and is now fighting to preserve.
In the year In 2021, Congressman Cárdenas announced the Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Communications Fund, a $7.17 billion program funded by the US Congress as part of the 2021 US Recovery Plan. As you head into distance learning.
Nationwide, the program has provided 13 million Wi-Fi connected devices and over 8 million broadband connections, benefiting over 17 million students in nearly 11,000 schools. The Los Angeles Unified School District used $280 million to provide laptops, tablets and home Internet connectivity.
In the year The first rollout of indoor devices and hotspots in 2020 under then-LAUSD Superintendent Austin Boehner has been criticized for connectivity issues in low-income families, unprepared teachers and a host of other problems. Superintendent Carvalho said Tuesday that the district has reached its goal of providing devices and home internet to all students in the district, with a major federal grant.
Although the pandemic may end the state of emergency, students’ devices and home Internet connections are long-term funding needs, he said.
But some Republicans want the government to recall unspent pandemic-era aid funds to help tackle the nation’s debt crisis, leaving the rest of the emergency communications fund at risk. This amount is estimated at 50 billion to 70 billion dollars, and the country as a whole is more than 31 trillion dollars in debt.
“We’re trying to work with the president to make sure we can save the radical Republicans who want to defund food, defund education, pull back and take money away from programs that people rely on,” Cardenas said.
LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho reiterated the importance of maintaining an emergency communication fund, which the district spends $10 million a month in federal funding to support communication for its students.
“Are we denying our children an education that we think is their right now?” Carvalho said. “This cannot be true and we are grateful for the leadership of Rep. Cárdenas and his leadership today in fighting for our children, fighting for connection and fighting for a better future.”
The Emergency Communications Fund currently expires on June 30, 2024, barring intervention from Congress to recall the money sooner — or extend the spending period.
“My goal and the goal of many of my colleagues … is to make sure that we don’t go backwards, that we keep the $7-plus billion that we’ve already donated, and that on a good day we’re going to improve it.” ” Cardenas said.
Tuesday’s visit to Van Nuys was a personal affair for Cárdenas. The school was built in 2010 using state bond funds that helped the district when he was a member of the California State Assembly. He moved from Jalisco, Mexico to the San Fernando Valley, where he raised 11 children, and asked to be named after his parents, Andres and Maria.
“It’s an honor to see first and second grade immigrants come to this country and LAUSD recognize their contributions to this country,” Cardenas said. “One of the greatest honors a person can have is raising children to be respected and responsible contributors to society. That’s what immigrants bring to this country.”
The school today serves primarily first- and second-generation immigrant students and has made good use of an emergency bonding fund. Andre and Maria Cárdenas Elementary School provided 174 devices for student home use, 131 student hotspots, and seven student home broadband services.
“When I see the work we’re doing in Washington and walk into a classroom and be able to look into the eyes of these beautiful kids and see that they’re connected,” Cardenas said. “No one should be left behind.”
Superintendent Carvalho said closing the digital divide among disadvantaged students is a critical step toward closing the academic achievement gap and preparing students for success later in life.
“Access to high-speed Internet access is a civil right for our students,” he said. “In this hyper-connected society of ours, the digitally disconnected[person]is initially at an academic disadvantage, and later at a severe economic disadvantage.”