LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – A local teacher is anxious, awaiting the future of a program that helps her students have internet. The Federal Communications Commission announced earlier this week that it plans to phase out its Affordable Connectivity Program, which helps millions get connected across the country.

Lisa Smith, who teaches 5th grade special education at Abston Elementary School in the west Valley, says several of her students would be left without internet access at home if this program runs out of funding.

“For my students with disabilities, they have many challenges that they face already,” she told FOX5.

A lack of internet would deprive those students of what Smith calls much-needed extra learning time after school.

“They need that supplemental skills practice on their own time,” she explained. “Using a calculator or adding and subtracting, mental math.”

Smith says losing this ability to learn on the computer at home would cause those students’ achievement gap to widen.

“They’re about to go to middle school, where the standards and the level of instruction is going to become more challenging for them,” she said.

FOX5 asked Smith what could be done if this happens. She said one option would be staying late after school to spend more one-on-one time with her students.

“If I can do it maybe two or three times a day after school for an hour, I would do it,” she said.

Alternatively, she could send students home each day with paper worksheets to complete.

However, Smith’s time is already short, and those paper worksheets may not keep her special needs students engaged in their work.

“I don’t know if students would actually do the work and get the practice, or get the instruction that they would need,” she worried. “Some have ADHD and ADD.”

Smith has a message for lawmakers in Congress.

“With these kids, they need to spend the money and invest in them so they can have a fighting chance,” she argued.

A bipartisan bill to replenish the fund for the Affordable Connectivity Program was introduced in the U.S. Senate this week. It would allocate $7 billion for the program.


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